Monday, May 7, 2012

Week 18: Gourd Lights- Part 1

When we moved to Turkey two years ago, I fell in LOVE with the beautiful gourd lights I found hanging in many shops.  Falling in love with gourds is nothing new for me.  They are my absolute favourite fall and Halloween decoration, and I have acquired some mini versions that are some of my favourite Christmas decorations.  I have a gourd addiction that I have no plan to recover from. 

We brought several gourd lights back to America with us that we used over our dance floor at our wedding.
Dazzling, wouldn't you say?
 Well... If you know me at all by now, you know that the second I spied these beauties I figured I too could make them. I spend most of my time in gourd shops studying designs, and figuring out how they are made.  I have a dream of becoming a gourd artisan some day.

I've been putting this dream off, because we didn't own a drill, and those holes are all drilled.  I've wanted to buy one, but we've resisted for the sake of not amassing things we will have to get rid of when we move home. 

But last month the bed broke, and so did our will-power around not buying a drill.  
So naturally we better make good use of that thing!

So, while visiting the castle with Alan's family last week, I stopped in to say hello to my gourd lady, and picked-up these two lovely things for a total of 4 lira. Score.

Then I wasted 3 hours of my day looking for the freaking Leatherman. 
But then I found it. (phew)
So. Tools for step 1:
Saw of some sort, sand paper, sketch pad, scissors, pencil, and cute little drill with varying bits. 

 First: cut rather large hole in the bottom of gourd. Sand smooth.

 After cutting off the bottoms (and finding inspiration for a later craft called "gourd bikini")...

 and removing the seeds (or as I like to refer to them: "my future gourd farm")...

You're left with this.  This hole will allow you to attach a light bulb, or maybe a tea light candle. 

Next: Sketch a plan.  Cut out a few shapes you can trace, because sketching on a rounded surface is very difficult.  I traced a leaf like shape, overlapping three times, to make a flower shape. 

Use the thinnest drill bit you can find to outline all of the designs.  These holes wont have colour beads in them, they will just be specks of light.

I just followed the lines drilling as evenly as I could. 

Sometimes it got wonky. 

But mostly, I love it. 

Unfortunately our baby drill only came with one drilling bit. Bummer.  So our next step will be finding the right size bit for bead holes. And purchasing beads. 

But the first step of this project was surprisingly more simple than I was expecting!  All told I spend about four hours on this baby, and three of those were spent finding the Leatherman. (I put it away more carefully this time.)

When we find what we need I'll fill all of the petals with bead sized holes, and add some more little shapes between the flowers.  

Also I'll paint.  

Then I'll add the beads, and we will all sigh at it's splendid beauty.  I'm sure of it.

To see the rest of the drilling, and the painting go to part 2.

And to see the completed project.. Part 3!


  1. Absolutely beautiful...I luv it .......

  2. I am so going to try this! They are gorgeous!! What kind of beads did you use? Glass or plastic?

    1. Good question. I think the seed beads that I used were glass. I think. But the beads traditionally used are plastic, so I think you could go either way. Good luck!

  3. Hi, I just back from the 10 days tour in turkey. I bought home one groud lamp from cappadocia. It is so beautiful when I switch it on. Regret for not buying another one. May I know is there anyway I can buy in Singapore ? Or I can order from somewhere ?
    Many thanks

  4. Hello, I was wondering, will it rot? Is it a short term thing? Did you varnish it? I'd love to make one but I can see it cooking with the bulb...