Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gourd Lamp by Geri

I am a gourd artist and have recently seen various gourd lamps and thought I would give it a try.
This is a small irregular shaped gourd grown in Douglas, LA several years ago.  Due to the gourd's assymetrical shape I just allowed myself to have some fun drilling holes in random lines and shapes then creating cutouts (usually from cracks created by the pressure I was putting on it with the drill) on the larger part of the gourd as if its growth had caused these random openings.
Drill or Drill Press with random bits (too small: not effective for my purpose and too large: created chipped holes and splits which gives you little choice but to GET CREATIVE!!!!)
X-acto Knife (for cutting random shaped holes)
Wood Rasp (cleaning and beveling random shaped holes and opening for light fitting)
Sand Paper
Pencil (for drawing designs)

Gold spray paint, gourd dye, gourd wax and steel wool (I will explain)
Some form of stand.  This was just something I found at Goodwill and thought I could use it for a gourd.

Light Kit (I used the type you see for ceramic holiday houses but found one with a brown cord)

LED light (candle style comparable to 15 W bulb)  USE LED ONLY!!!!
I cut off the neck of the gourd at a point that was large enough to accommodate the  LED light and, using the wood rasp, smoothed the opening.  I dumped the seeds and debris out of the gourd.  This one was relatively easy to clean.

I drew some lines then alternated drill bits creating a series of holes.  If I split the gourd creating a hole I just used the X-acto knife.  Then I let the "art major" in me come out and looked for ways to turn my work into a better design addressing each line and shape to create a crafty work of art.
I used dyes (reds, greens, purple, and browns) as the under glaze.  Once dry, I sprayed the inside of the gourd gold (to compliment the base) and lightly sprayed the dyed outer part of the gourd then used steel wool to scratch off the gold spray paint revealing the dye beneath.  This gives my gourd a vintage burnished look that i really like.  Once dry, I gave the gourd a good coat of gourd wax then buffed to a nice finish. 
I ran the light kit with the LED candlelabra bulb through the center of the stand and inserted into the gourd.  On this particular kit I had to adjust the tension pieces to accomdate the larger opening.
My advice: Do this on a gourd you could stand to toss if it doesn't work out.  In my case, little cracks, chips and splits (common on thinner gourds) just "encouraged" my creativity!!!!  I have other, more symetrical, gourds that I will attempt to create a deliberate pattern but as for this gourd, I am really pleased with how it turned out.  I learned a lot in the process of creating it and do not consider it a "practice" gourd, but an actual work of art.  The patterns of light on the wall are delightful and you can rotate the gourd to get different effects.
Remember...I teach classes and have all the tools and materials to help you craft your own gourd lamp!!!!

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