Macadamia Shakers

During the summer holidays my children and I collected macadamia nut shells from a park. They were scattered below the tree, each with a giant hole nibbled out of it. I truly admire the set of teeth that did this to the nuts, those shells are so hard! Unable to resist the impulse to collect, and yet still not quite knowing what I would do with them, I carried them back home with my pockets bulging and more tucked in my shirt. Thinking vaguely that they may be used for threading, I drilled a hole into the back of each one (power drill all the way … I don’t recommend a hand drill for this task, you’ll be there until next year)

So they stayed in my craft collection until recently, when I got them out for a one-year-old jajumm to play with. He likes to move things from bowl to bowl, rearrange them, put them back, throw them, and then pick them up one by one and return them to the basket. While he was occupied with this very important play I started threading some. They rattled beautifully! So … I made rattles!


I’m going to keep them outside, hanging some in our Talga Tree (our music tree), and keeping others available for individual use in a hanging basket under the tree.


These were easy to make. I started with the materials I had at home: some coloured twine (I would have preferred natural jute but this is what I had), some wooden beads, the macadamia shells and a doll needle. Doll needles are long and can be found in a haberdashery or craft store. I use them often with children for threading. They are sharp … but then needles are.

You could use any nut I suppose, but because the macadamias are so hard and smooth they make a fabulous sound together. Brush them out on the inside first, even give them a bit of a scrub in some warm water with a bit of vinegar if they look a bit grubby inside. I like to involve children at all times in the things we make here at Numala, and they can help from the beginning. I made another set with a four-year-old jajumm and she was easily able to manage the doll needle, just needed help with the knots … and was far more interested in making loooooong strands of shells. And that’s ok too 🙂 I’ve kept aside enough to make small rattles with and we’ll hang the long strands from the music tree too.


Here’s how to make them:

1) Cut the twine into long lengths – about 40 cm

2) Tie a big knot at one end and thread the doll needle on the other.

3) Add a small wooden bead then thread on three or four macadamia shells.

4) Tie another big knot at the top of the shells, leaving enough space for them to rattle loosely together when shaken.

5) Thread on a few more coloured beads and secure them with another knot. Set this aside and make a few more.

6) When you have five or six strands of threaded shells, tie them all together with one knot just above the coloured beads. You could then tie this to a handle such as a wooden curtain ring, but I didn’t have any so I knotted the strands together in the same way my daughter and I have created friendship bands. This made a nice decorative, flat handle to shake the shells.