The Process of Making a Lamp
This process is always above 1000 (up to 1600) active hours of work. I try to challenge myself with new techniques and approaches to get the best of every idea and gourd. I have a rule that every next lamp should have at least one new significant feature never used before. The goal is constant progress and enriched vocabulary.
As the final result (when the lamp is finished) is an unique art piece, the process of arriving there is also unique for every lamp. The stages that every gourd goes through are almost always the same, but the experience is always different. I find myself as much frightened as trilled behind every gourd in my hands that needs to start the long journey. There are certainly long stages where there is just pure labor, but the creative aspect almost never abandons the process of making a lamp.
First, a gourd with wanted shape must be picked and thoroughly check its healthiness. Then the gourd is cleaned from its skin and it’s ready for the design. As the creative process starts here, it can sometimes go very smooth, or it can go with long repeated measurings and mistakes until the wanted idea is visible. The completed drawings are then repeated by pyrograph so it can withhold the long period of upcoming work. After this I use paint (or sometimes I do this as a last stage, or even don’t use paint at all) and here the gourd is ready for opening. The gourd must be carefully cleaned from the inside and then incorporate the light bulb. What follows is a lot of carving. On the African gourds I still haven’t done a lamp with drilled perforations (like in my first lamps), but always do open work carvings. This is because of my still-not-satisfied hunger for thick-walled gourds (something I wanted very much while working on the local gourds with very thin walls). I want to give as much visible accent to that advantage as possible. That thick wall on the African gourds gives so much opportunities simply because of the more material it caries. The thickness on a gourd is always a surprise moment, and can even change the previously designed look because of this. Sometimes there is more material then the one needed for the design so it can evolve itself into more delicate and more complex design because of this. In the opposite case, if the wall is thinner than the one needed, it can simplify the previously imagined look. After all the carvings and perforations are done I sand everything. Every single surface. Even the smallest perforations from the inside, they are all sanded with fine grit. Although this is quite difficult in technical terms and takes a lot of time, it changes the overall look in a way that I must do it. In this last stage I also start to carve the wooden base which is a design alteration of the gourd design, so they can well complement each other. The work on the base is certainly not minor to not be mentioned, being an art piece of its own. A lot of delicate carvings and a lot of sanding. After both the gourd and the base are completed, they are treated with wood finish, all of the parts are joined together and the lamp can reveal its final look for the first time.
Although the lamp can be seen as exquisite wooden sculpture by day, it is quite different when lighted at night. The incorporated light gives life to the carved gourd, making it transparent on the thin-walled carved parts (glowing in the shades of the color red) and projecting its clear beams to the nearest walls through the perforated parts.
The room where the lamp is, metamorphosises into new mystical place. The shadows and the light not only draws and projects the lamp’s design, but also sculpts the room. The very first moment the most frequent reaction after the lamp is lighted is silence. It’s one of my favorite moments. It’s a confirmation for me for the importance of something beautiful in our lives. It’s the surprising element in a very pleasurable form. It is a very intimate and mostly introspective moment more then a relationship between a human and an object. I think the lamp just triggers that state in us.
The main materials for every lamp are gourd and wood. The gourds I’m using are from Guinea and Mali. The wood used for the bases is local walnut. Inside the lamp there is a halogen light bulb which can be accessed (if replacement is needed) with opening the lamp’s cap holding itself with magnets. Every lamp goes with its own electrical adapter (input:100-240 volts, output: 12 volts).
The lamps are for indoor use only. The gourd and the wood used for the lamps are dry and stabilized so they will last a long time. However, being thoroughly carved, their structural strenght is weakened, so you need to be gentle with them. Keep them dry and don’t use any kind of detergents for cleaning. When you need to remove the dust use bigger paint brush with soft bristles. I find this method to be the most effective.