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Hand Sculpted Driftwood Pendants


Each of our pendant's is handcrafted in house by the 'Driftwood Shaper' from driftwood, personally collected, and each is the culmination of 30 plus hours of work. The pendant is therefore, untouched by another human from collection through making until you receive it. 

Each pendant is slightly different due to the type of tree branch fork came from and the wood grain within the branch fork. The location within the section branch fork also changes to fit around any visible defects.



Our pendants have been specifically designed to withstand the knocks and wear and tear often experienced when on a journey and every day drops and knocks. Furthermore, the pendant has a 'solid' design as this also makes it stronger and shows more of the wood grain.
Where you go and what you do, your pendant should be able to go. Comfortable to stay on you day after day for years and all love a swim in the sea.   
A common belief in Maori culture is that the spirit of the wearer of the pendant is adopted by it and enriched by their adventures and journeys.

The road from Wanaka New Zealand to the West Coast beaches for driftwood branch fork collection Driftwood Shaper Ltd
Hei Matau Driftwood pendant from driftwood collected from Wanaka New Zealand Driftwood Shaper Ltd

Although all our driftwood starts it’s shaping journey from our template. From here depending on how the driftwood responds each pendant becomes just that little bit different in shape. The sectioned branch “Y” is collected from a tree that has left where it lived its life and has traveled. Sometimes we get two but mostly one finished pendant from each “Y”.
For most people this is the first time they have seen a "Y" wood grain section and we see this as growth in two directions and a natural place of strength.
For us, this is what is unique about raw material and for others they also associate with the collection location. We know that we can’t purchase from a supplier we have to collect it ourselves. So from collecting the driftwood to the finished pendant and its packaging, it is handled just by us.
Each pendant is different and unique and one of a kind.

Hei Matau Driftwood pendant from driftwood collected from Beef Island BVI Driftwood Shaper Ltd


We have taken our inspiration from hei matau, which is a stylised fish hook from New Zealand. In the Maori culture the shape signifies abundance and plenty, strength, determination and for catching good luck and energy for the wearer.

The tree branch fork or Y shaped section is the toughest part of the branch as the wood grain interlocks at this point. It is also the origin of growth and development for the tree. The hei matau driftwood pendant combines the stylised fish hook shape with a material that also has a meaning.  

The Maori fish hook also resembles the Maori respect for and connection to the sea with a safe journey over it. 
In keeping with this respect we only harvest the branch forks or "Y" sections from driftwood and never from a living tree.


The wood we use, driftwood, has had its own story. It has traveled, lived another life and this captured in its wood grain. The pendant is also created out of what generates the growth of a tree - the 'Y' section of branches.  It is also the strongest, toughest and densest part of a branch. Along with the symbolism of the pendant design it is a perfect travel companion.

Travelling to Raglan New Zealand on the back roads Mt Karioi in the background Driftwood Shaper Ltd
Ash timber branch fork section.jpg



Driftwood shaper and making his first Hei Matau Pendant at Bone Idle in NZ

This was the first hei matau pendant I made on the 18th Aug 2006 at Bone Idle at Barrytown, West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand. I had taken on an ambitious design and the instructors were very clear that I would not finish within the worksop. It was a full day workshop with the instructors undertaking some of more critical tasks but true to their word, I did not finish and left fine grades of emery paper for final polishing, which took days to remove the machining marks from the cutting shaping bits.


I wore my pendant all the time for just over 10 years before it broke when I took it off to show a friend and they dropped it and it broke. It felt like a decade of emotions that I had achored with my pendant just slipped away. A design flaw and a very hard lesson learned, that needed careful consideration in the design and material.

Broken Bone Hei Matau Pendant


This was my first greenstone hei matau pendant I purchased, back in 1985, just prior to my first overseas journey. I dropped on the floor and broke. I was "gutted", as it had captured years of my travel experiences, emotions and memories. It was to continue no more with my journeys, but is still kept today but not worn. I was too young at the time to consider "lessons learned" but did much later on when undertaking the shape and material for the hei matua pendants we make today.

Broken Greenstone Hei Matau Pendant


The material journey led to me wood and in particular driftwood and in particular the branch fork. Branch forks have a wood grain beauty of their own. They are also highly individual between each tree species. The wood at a branch fork has about five times greater fracture energy (toughness) than the wood of side apex, stem middle, and branches. In addition it has approximately 20% greater density {1}. These qualities made this a natural choice.   

The back of our pendants are solid. This shows off the wood grain and branch "V" grain structure but ensures a solid design, falling back on our lessons learned. All our pendants have the same starting shape, but as they are shaped the difference in wood density and its hardness makes each one unique. Combine that with the individual nature of the branch fork wood grain, each pendant is indiviual and a one off.

{1} Fracture properties of green wood formed within the forks of hazel by Seray Özden, Duncan Slater and Roland Ennos

Section of Buckthorn branch fork marked up for cutting out the initial design Driftwood Shaper Ltd
Section of Pine branch fork from Mt Etna volcano marked up for cutting out the initial design Driftwood Shaper Ltd
Section of Larch branch fork from Ireland marked up for cutting out the initial design Driftwood Shaper Ltd
Section of unknown branch fork from the island of Anegada marked up for cutting out the initial design Driftwood Shaper Ltd
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