A hole in the gourd. Sounds trivial. It simply must be done, first and foremost, to thoroughly clean the inside of the gourd (it will be discussed in a separate article).
However, in case of the gourd lamps the topic is more complex than it may seem at first. As we are becoming more and more ambitious, at some point we come to the conclusion that getting rid of a part of the gourd is a bit of a waste of the surface.
In this post I will describe several ways to approach this subject, in the order in which this element has evolved in my lamps over the years.
Although I try to show and explain everything quite accurately, my goal is not to give detailed and ready-to-use instructions on how to do the whole job step by step.
First of all, unfortunately not all of my work is documented in the pictures, and secondly I simply want to inspire, motivate to make an effort and show the range of possibilities. I want to encourage you to experiment and to work out your own solutions.
These are the methods that I have developed myself, but I am not saying that they are the best possible ones and that some things cannot be done differently.
– 1 –
No closing part
Leaving the hole in the gourd and not caring about the closing part is the easiest way we can deal with the topic. That is why it is the most popular one.
However, it is worth remembering that the hole does not have to be round and its shape may be incorporated into the lamp pattern. It will certainly look more interesting.
CUTTING THE HOLE
There are several techniques of cutting a hole in a gourd and the choice depends on the tools you have, the shape of the gourd and the precision of your attempt.
For quite a long time, my only tool was the Dremel rotary tool, so I would use it to make the holes in the gourd. Because the way I made the gap was almost the same as in case of the closing part, I will explain it in detail in the second method.
– 2 –
A hole with a magnetic closing
While in case of the first technique (no closing part) we do not have to worry so much about the precision of cutting the hole, here, the precise cutting of the gap is very important. I cut a 2-3 mm wide gap.
Most of the times, I cut the gap and opened the gourd only when the pattern was already fully designed and painted.
CUTTING THE GAP
⇒ Drawing the gap lines (two parallel lines 2-3mm apart).
⇒ Outside the gap on both sides, marking 4 perpendicular lines. These will be the places where magnets and pins will be mounted.
⇒ Engraving the lines. You can see them in the pictures.
⇒ Carving out the outer layer of wood between the lines to reveal the lighter and softer wood of the gourd.
⇒ Drilling holes very close to one another at the gap.
⇒ Cutting the wood between the holes with a slightly thinner drill.
⇒ Opening the gourd and sanding the walls of both the gourd and the closing part.
That way I got an open gourd with a precisely made gap.
The gap walls should be parallel or slightly closer towards the inside of the gourd. The gap should not be wider at the bottom than at the top.
What magnets to choose?
I used 2 x 3 x 1mm neodymium magnets.
In the previously marked places, on the wall of the gap (that one on the gourd, not on the closing part) I cut a rectangular magnet dimples with a scalpel. They must be slightly deeper than the height of the magnet. Then, I gently stick the magnets with two-pack epoxy glue. Depending on the thickness of the gourd, I glue the magnets 1-2mm below the surface of the gourd.
It’s best if the surface of the magnets is perfectly equall with the surface of the wood. The excess of the glue can be easily wiped off with a solvent before it hardens.
Pins can be made from a piece of nail. Max thickness 2mm.
In the appropriate places on the walls of the closing part, I drill holes so that the pin fits freely in it. The pin should fit completely there and have some space for the glue.
Sticking the pins
Here I used two methods.
1. In my first lamps I used to glue the pins so that they were longer than needed, and then each of them was gently shortened (e.g. with the Dremel cutting disc) to the right length so that the closing part fits perfectly. It has to be done very slowly, not to shorten the pins too much.
2. The second method is much better, but it requires speed of action. I put the glue in all four holes and put pins in them. Then I put the closing part into its place in the gourd so that the pins themselves are attracted to the magnets and thus automatically adjust themselves to the appropriate length. When using epoxy glue, we have only 1-2 minutes before the glue starts to harden. But it is doable 🙂
– 3 –
The hole integrated into the pattern and closed permanently
In this case, the closing part was incorporated into the pattern, and at the very end it was glued permanently into the gourd. This was possible because in these lamps, the head could be unscrewed from the base in order to have access to the bulb.
Leaferis and Nepenthis were the first lamps where I used custom-made light fitting designed by me, which made it possible to unscrew the gourd from the base.
Here, basically I did everything as in the previous method, but the gap was permanently sealed. The difficulty is to do it very carefully and mask it at the end, so that it is as little visible as possible.
Cons of this method:
– the gap is visible from the inside of the gourd.
– when designing the pattern, you need to consider the location of the hole (big enough) and the gap.
– you need to glue and mask the place where the gap was with great precision.
Unfortunately, I do not have photos from that process or other photos of my lamps, where these places would be visible better.
– 4 –
Round hole at the bottom of the gourd, closed permanently
This is a technique that I am currently using in my lamps. It’s probably the most labor-intensive, but I think it’s the best one.
This method allows you to use the entire surface of the gourd for the pattern, which can cast light pattern. Here, you don’t have to worry about the closing part. The place at the bottom, where the hole is located, is the shadow zone of the bulb anyway.
As in the previous method, here the lamp’s head must be unscrewed from the base, so that the access to the bulb is possible following the permanent sealing of the hole.
The option of unscrewing the gourd from its base has also another great advantage – it minimizes the risk of damage to the lamp during transport.
THE GAP AND THE MAGNETS
The gaps in the places where magnets are glued must be made precisely so that the magnets aren’t too loose. Otherwise, there will be a problem with gluing and the magnets may fall into the gourd.
Two outer lines spaced about 2mm from the gap will be needed at the end, when the hole is being fixed permanently.
In each of the four places I glue two connected magnets (round neodymium magnets, Ø 3 x 2mm). Of course, while gluing the magnets into the gap, I have to be careful not to glue them together.
When the magnets are already glued, I cut the rest of the gap and sand it. That way I get the closing part perfectly matching the hole in the gourd.
CLOSING THE HOLE TEMPORARILY
At a later stage of work, e.g. when carving in the dark, when I need to have the light inside the gourd, it is necessary to firmly close the gourd temporarily. The magnets alone would be too weak here.
I put the paint tape on the edges of the gourd and closing part, then I glue the hole with epoxy glue. The joint is very strong, but later I can easily open the gourd again. I cut the glue and peel off the tape together with the glue.
FIXING THE CLOSING PART PERMANENTLY
When the lamp’s head is completed, the closing part is glued on permanently.
First, I put a flat plywood ring (custom made) under the gap, so as to mask the gap from the inside and prevent the glue from getting inside the gourd. Since the diameter of the ring must be slightly larger than the diameter of the hole, therefore the ring consists of two parts so that it can be mounted.
I use non-transparent two part expoxy glue. It is important that no light penetrates this place even minimally.
The outer layer of the glue is the transparent expory glue mixed with wood dust to get the right color.
Finally, I thoroughly sand and paint the surface.
As you can see, there are several possibilities and each of them has its pros and cons. In methods 2 and 4, where the gourd is unscrewed, the biggest problem is a light fitting. I use custom-made metal parts that I designed myself. However, their cost is considerable.
If you had the opportunity to buy such parts made of plastic or whole, ready bulb holder with a G4 socket, would you be interested? What price would be reasonable for you?