I think it is the time to tell you about the voyage that a calabash takes until it arrives to your home as a gourd lamp. A 7-8 months process. I will start from the farm and explain until the stage that the preliminary works take place. Right before they are turned into lamps.
Our gourd lamps are made from calabash so my article will focus on the calabash rather than other gourds.
Why do we choose calabash?
Well first of all they grow here, where we live. We are in the middle of its native. And secondly they have a large surface which we can craft. Gourds like coconuts are not exactly what we prefer because of smaller craft surface. Smaller surface area simply restricts the artist to demonstrate or apply the ideas in mind.
It is not possible to make a replica.
I am not going to go into the botanical description of calabash or which species they belong either. Simply, a calabash is a vegetable. As far as I am concerned, it is the water that turns into a calabash and that's why they look like water drops by creation. Well another magic by the Mother Nature.
Each and every single calabash is unique by creation and no calabash is the same. Some or most of them may look similar but if you look carefully, you will see that they are all different. And theoritically, it is not possible to make a replica of a gourd lamp that you own.
We feed our calabash with plenty of water and goat based fertilisers. A determinator of quality.
I am skipping the farming stage which may be an article of its own. However I must underline that our calabash gourds are
monitored from the day that the seeds are laid on the ground. Not many people will know but the quality of your gourd lamp starts at this point. Calabash needs water. Plenty and plenty of water. Not necessarily to grow up and become large. But to have thick skin. You need to feed them with a lot of water so that they have thick skin and that's what we do. We also feed our calabash with goat based fertilisers so that they support the calabash grow stronger. This is the first and one of the most important things that determine the quality of your lamp. A light skin calabash will chip and break easily having no resistance to any external force.
Each year we dry about 3000 calabash
Once they are picked up from the farm, we will bring the calabash to our workshop. The next stage will be another 2-3 months process of drying. Picked up by November-December, our calabash will rest ıntil March to dry and turn into a gourd. We choose about 3000 calabash from the farm each year to turn into gourd lamps. But please don't get me wrong as it doesn't mean that we make about 3000 lamps. Some of them will be re-selected useless or uncraftable. Some will break on the way and some while we craft.
Once they are dry, the next thing will be to remove the vegetable bit from the interiors. This is another process of its own. First we open a circular hole underneath the gourd and use a drill like handtool to remove. Within the process of crafting this may look or sound like something that you do on the way but I am afraid that is not the case. Removal of the interiors is extremely important if you want to provide your customers with a quality product. Proper removal is important for the artist to work on the gourd . And of course for the end user to have a clean, neat product. All these processes take an important role at the final quality.
I am sure I will be writing about the crafting techniques so I am going to leave it here. What happens afterwards is the crafting stage. We will get there too.