Greetings from sunny, happy Alanya, one of the most charming towns in the East Mediterranean.
Alanya is an inspiration itself, the Mediterranean is an inspiration itself, the nomadic culture is an inspiration itself and add the biggest inspiration, LIFE itself on top of all these, I just can't stop thinking how lucky I am to be existing on this part of the world.
Every now and then, I will be hosting someone in my workshop who wants to learn gourd craft. What we show to these apprentices is primarily sketching and drilling. I also show a full process from the beginning until the finishing and let these apprentices free so that they fly with their own wings. I haven't charged anyone a single penny until today to show what we do and how we do by the way and anyone is welcome. Some keep on crafting but most of them give up.
Traditionally most of our local gourd craft is what we call a 'compass work'. Circular figures placed on the gourd with the help of a compass. Some sections beaded, some painted. Well, that's the roots of gourd craft in the Mediterranean.
When I start showing/teaching drilling, I usually make the apprentice drill a circular form, I believe this is the most effective way of learning to drill on a gourd.
About 2 years ago, I picked up a small little gourd to show drilling for an apprentice. Some gourd I would never use as a gourd to sell because of its small size. So small for our commercial work. I managed to drew 3 separate circles on the gourd and a few circles within these circles and asked the apprentice (whose name was Ozgur by the way) to drill the gourd. I must confess he did a very good job. And then I asked him to open some bead holes on this particular gourd and once again, his work was so neat and clean. The gourd remained drilled for a while and we proceeded other works with Ozgur until he graduated from the local college and returned back to his hometown 'Eskisehir' a city in west midlands Turkey. Gradually and along the way, we chopped that gourds head off, we painted into white and we laced it with blue and purple beads. We had no clue that we were creating Rising Stars iconic 'Evil Eye First' which has outsold any other design in Rising Star history. The above photo shows the first 'Evil Eye First'. You see it is slightly larger than a water glass.
At the time not only Amazon Handmade was a new platform which we got selected as crafters but I was also new to Amazon Handmade. I was sitting on my balcony on a Sunday afternoon looking at 'Evil Eye First' and I was thinking to list it on Amazon for sale. Yet its small little size was my concern as it has always been. You ship something two continents away and people end up receiving a tiny little thing which I always thought wasn't a good deal. That's why for overseas orders, I always choose the biggest gourd possible so that you get something filling. That Sunday I listed Evil Eye First on Amazon and it started selling immediately.
I received two fantastic reviews which people actually uploaded videos and photos of the lamps in their homes telling others how beautiful it was.
I must confess that it was the popularity of this design which led me to focus on similar designs as well as the Evil Eye First itself. I decided to build this design on larger gourds before everything, simply to ship even more filling and more satisfying product who wanted to own a replica. That was the birth of the larger size. The photo shooting was completed with the help of my girlfriend at the time, a beautiful lady who is my wife at the moment.
This was last Autumn and approaching Christmas, I didn't have any time to further improve 'Evil Eye First' but keep making replicas as it sold, sold and sold. I have no clue how many times Amazon sent to me messages about low inventory as I could hardly keep up with the demand.
2018 marks the arrival of Montana Colors 94, technically the best spray paints in the world which raised the bar at our craft quality. And of course, our white 'Evil Eye First' was directly affected by this hike in quality. The more we focused on this design, the better it got. Once again, varnished with matching Montana 94 varnish, we achieved the best level of quality. The output just got better and better. And I personally made sure that each and every single Evil Eye First was made to the highest drill quality. Instead of two drill bit sizes, I filled the gaps with dentist scale drill sizes additionally so that the lamp gives out the best possible charming output. Now 'Evil Eye First' is actually available in 190 color options. Photo above is a replica of Evil eye First in 'Ebony Brown' of Montana Colors 94.
And in February when I had some break from the hectic pace of Christmas......... We introduced the true handmade glass 'Evil Eyes' for our designs.
I don't want this article to turn into a commercial blog post. That's why I want to conclude at this point. This design has an influence not only in my and my wife's life as well as our workshop and also I believe it would if any gourd crafters read this throughly and think about it. I just want to respect this design by placing its story into our blog.
Until today, we had shipped over 100 Evil Eye First to the USA only. Within the first quarter of 2018 only on Amazon Handmade over 30 pieces were sold. I don't know or have no record of people who wanted a replica locally. Like Alexander, my neighbor who took the photo that you see at the introduction of this blog post now enjoying this design every night at his home in Avsallar Alanya.
I have all the respect to those who craft gourds on a personal and commercial basis. Gourd artists who make brilliant work. I never called myself an artist but a crafter. Just because I know these people make only a number of gourd lamps within a year, I know their sales figures, just in terms of quantities is nowhere near ours. Knowing local crafters and gourd lamp shops in Turkey, I also know that there is no other workshop in the world who ship at the quantities we do. Not because we make the best gourd craft but just because we make only gourd craft, I am comfortable in saying that we are the most selling gourd lamps in the world at this stage and this is the most selling gourd lamp. I know there is not one single gourd crafter in the world who made a replica of his/her work on a gourd more than 100 times.