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    artists, growtips, info & more

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 Art VS function - Calabarte's lamps show you can have both.

In This Issue:
 Ever since Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, designers from around the world have been creating the body to house it. This month we are thrilled to have with us, one of these great designers, Polish artist Calabarte. Using the hard-shell gourd, Calabarte has designed leading edge lamps that have an international presence. A unique artist and individual, we welcome Calabarte and his art.

              Illumination - Calabarte's lamp at night

Glorious spring flowers are up and what is more fitting than collecting these blooms in a gourd basket. To celebrate this wonderful season, we have a tutorial on how to make a gourd button basket. Easy to do, this is a project for older children and adults alike and could be that perfect Mother's Day gift for that special person in your life.  

If you are planning on growing gourds, 'Out In The Gourd Patch', our series on gourd growing, will interest you. The experiences are from ex-commercial gourd growers and during 8 years of growing, these people have seen it all. The wheres, hows and whens are explored month by month making things clearer, especially for first time growers.

Our mailbag was very lively this month with Pudge and Smudge, two playful, curious pet rats, running about. Turns out rats LOVE gourds! Also a letter on "Brains VS Brawn," a guide on gourd cleaning for the elderly, the young and the smart! Thanks for your ideas and letters...the mailbag is a highlight of our month.

Gourd sightings, trivia, It's A Dog's Life and our monthly music pic appear too so without wasting another moment, welcome to the May issue of Gourd Fever.

Calabarte: Lighting The Way With Gourd Art

In the city of Lodz, Poland resides a young artist who is making a name for himself. Przemek Krawczynski, better know as Calabarte, is a designer of gourd lamps. Throughout the US, Mexico, Malaysia and in several European countries, Calabarte's art is on display in living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms. During the day they are works of art and at night, they illuminate their true beauty.

Calabarte's love for gourds began thanks to his mother's curiousity. It was December, 2008 when she saw some gourds while passing a garden. "What is this strange fruit?" she asked. "Gourds" she was told and the owners offered her one.

She took it home and Calabarte was instantly captivated. After a little Internet research on the plant and the types of things you can do with gourds, he set out and made his first lamp. That lamp is still hanging in his home.


He finished that first lamp and decided to make another one, and another and another. Before long he quit his studies in building engineering and devoted his time doing what he really loved...making gourd lamps. He travelled to Senegal and bought African gourds (calabash) which, since that time, has became his raw material.

When asked about his background Calabarte states that he has always had artistic interests but first and foremost he enjoys any type of manual activity. His quick, scientific mind lends itself to fine detail and precision; skills that are obvious in every lamp he designs.
Most of the lamps Calabarte saw on the Internet were Oriental in nature; his vision was something different. He wanted original, using a modern style. His intuition, imagination and creativity, pared with his scientific mind, has now produced designs that had
never been seen before.  

Inspiration comes from many different places for different people and in Calabarte's case, it comes in the form of fractals. (Fractals are the study of patterns and space.) When working on a design he begins with a very basic pattern and will begin to draw and sketch on a gourd. Throughout the process the pattern may change dozens of times.

Like most artists, sometimes the initial idea will be nothing like the end result, but it is the unpredictibilty that Calabarte likes. He has learned to trust his intuition...it is the best path to follow.

The light patterns his lamps will cast is considered as well. It is impossible to know 100% how they will look exactly and in the end are always a surprise.  


Calabarte is brimming with new ideas and knows he has the potential to create beautiful functional art. He spends his time looking for new forms and designs and his work with his lamps leaves little time to follow other forms of art. The response and appreciation he receives provides him with additional motivation and satisfaction to follow this direction.

He does not exhibit at shows or exhibitions as he does not have the inventory to fill these venues. He sells all of his work and has a waiting list of clients wanting to buy. One lamp alone will take 1 1/2 months to make so as you can imagine it is hard to build inventory. 

For Calabarte the quality, perfection and satisfaction is much more important than the number of lamps he can make. In the past he has sold on eBay.com and is now in the process of setting up his own site. It should be up late April/ early May.

On his down time Calabarte enjoys playing the West African drums; the djembe and dun duns. These drums were the reason he initially travelled to Senegal. Sports are important and Calabarte can often be found swimming, running and cycling. His philosophy is that the body has a big influence on the mind, his work and creativity.

Calabarte describes himself as an open-minded person and appreciates it in other people. He is a vegetarian and has a clean, healthy lifestyle.

Calabarte's official website is: http//www.calabarte.comp:// 

His facebook fanpage is:
Calabarte, it was a pleasure meeting you. Your art is facinating. The precision and your design sense makes it "one of a kind" art. In short, fractals may inspire you but it is you that inspire us! Thank you very much and all the best in the future. Carolyn & Linda

Tutorial: Making A Gourd Button Basket (Vessel) by Carolyn Cooper

Step 1

Using a scrap piece of round reed as a spacer between the gourd and gourd button, stitch your gourd buttons onto opposite sides of the gourd.

It is your choice as to where you may want to place them. Here I placed them just over 1/4 of the way down.

I used Artprint Brown ink to color both the gourd and the reed.

Step 2


This is a basic technique for making a gourd handle. The base for the handle is reed. The cane is wrapped around the reed to form the finished handle. For the base cut a length of round reed about 4 to 4 1/2 times as long as the desired finished handle.

Wrap the round reed around the gourd button on both sides of the gourd. Cut the reed long enough so it ends around the button. Use tape to temporatily secure the ends. Using the binder cane make a loop around the reed and start wrapping. Make sure it is tight and even.

Wrapping Details
These two photos demonstrate how I began the wrapping. I go over not only the round reed but also the beginning piece of about 2" of binder cane. This buries and secures the first of the wrap. Continue wrapping until you reach the other side and bury the end under the last couple of wraps. Finish up by adding some beads to the buttons.

This basket can be embellished in many ways depending on your personal style.

To look at gourds suitable for baskets click here:
For Irish Linen click here:

Out In The Gourd Patch: Seedling Care and Planting Out

The seeds planted as seedlings should be up and growing rapidly. Continue fertilizing with a weak formula of 20-20-20 but slowly back off over the course of the next couple weeks. As the seedlings do grow and become thicker, make sure that there is air circulation so there is not a build-up of humidity.

Next on the gourd growing agenda is trying to figure out where they should be planted. Do you have lots of space or are you restricted? Depending on the types of gourds you planted, trellising can be a lovely option. In all cases full sun is essential.

Soil Preparation and Planting
Gourds love rich, slightly acidic soil with a PH of 6.0 - 6.5. Compost and manure should be dug in to enrich it.

Choose a sunny spot. If the weather has been on the cool side cut open black garbage bags and spread it over the soil. Place a soaker/drip hose under the plastic. Gourds like dry leaves and a soaker hose will water only the roots. This conserves water too.
Hold the edges down with rocks or soil. Plastic will, in addition to warming the soil, control the weeds and keep the moisture in. The photo above is plastic laid in a commercial field.

Hardening Off
Once mid May hits start putting your seedlings outside in a sunny, sheltered location. Bring them in at night if the temperatures dip. Hardening off prepares them for their outdoor planting towards the end of May.

Planting Out In Canada and the Northern States
In most areas this happens on the May 24th weekend. If there is a threat of frost in your area postpone this step until the nights are frost free.

Getting back to your laid-out plastic now: Tear a small hole in the plastic and dig a hole deep enough to cover the peat pot or newspaper pot. If you have heavy clay dig the hole and add some compost or ProMix. Place the seedling, press down making sure the seedling is secure. Water well. 

Once transplanted into the ground the seedlings may go into shock and wilt but will recover within 12 - 24 hours. Rewater as necessary.

Out Of The Mailbag
Good morning Carolyn & Linda,
I just finished my gourd that I turned into a mouse house. The attached photos of Mikey's Mansion should give you a chuckle.
I am entering it into the Niagara Wood Show just to find out what kind of feedback I get. That is real glass in the windows, except for the picture window in the back.
Hope you enjoy the photos. Thanks bunches, Mike and Linda
Mike and Linda,
This mouse house is great. So detailed and homey...wouldn't mind moving in myself. Bet the response you got at the wood show was extraordinary. Thanks for writing, Carolyn and Linda
Hi there,
My name is Cate and I saw your amazing gourds at the One Of A Kind Show in Toronto. I purchased a piece for my two pet rats to make a home in and they LOVE it.

I was asked to send a picture of them and I've just managed to get two perfect ones. I hope you enjoy them as much as my girls enjoy their new home.

Thanks for creating such wonderful and unique art.                                 Take care, Cate - Toronto

           Pudge peeking out of her new home

        Here is Smudge, nice and cozy too!

Hi Cate,
These are great photos of the girls in their new digs. They look very happy (they are very cute) and they most certainly did put a smile on our faces. Thanks for sharing...

Hi Linda and Carolyn,
Here is a photo of an old skirt marker I found. I now use it for marking the my gourds. It is so much easier than the stack of books I use to use.
Debbie Essex - Ontario
We agree, thanks Debbie!
Brawn VS Brains: An easy gourd cleaning method for the elderly, the young and those that don't want to spent hours up to their elbows in suds.
I found a web site that suggested soaking the gourds in a solution of water and mild Javex. Cover the  gourds, let them soak and then hose them off with the garden hose.

I soaked mine for 12 hours and because gourds float I had to repeat the process for the other side. Using a plastic dish brush with a plastic scraper those stubborn spots were easy to get off.

I just wanted to share my experience because cleaning gourds can be tough work. This method makes it easy for the elderly and the young - give it a try.
                                  Yolanda - Orleans, Ontario

Thanks Yolanda. A little tip: Weigh the gourds down while soaking (a board, old oven rack and bricks work well) and then you won't have to turn them and soak again for another 12 hours... a time-saver! Carolyn
PS Don't forget to wear a mask when cleaning moldy gourds...your lungs will appreciate it!

Looking Ahead: June 2012
Next month we are happy to have with us Hellen Martin, a U.S. artist who has a passion for gourds. Her home away from home is her studio; a place that she can get lost in for hours at a time.

She is also an advocate, teacher and author working hard promoting the fact that gourd art is fine art, not just a craft item. Her high-energy and positive attitude, along with her sharp wit, will both inspire and entertain you in the June issue of Gourd Fever.

We have learned, from our mailbag, that pet rats love gourds but what about white-handed gibbon or golden-lion tamarin? We'll find out when we visit the Toronto Zoo to meet with Nicole Presley, the Wildlife Care Supervisor of the Indomalaya Pavillion.
Her stories are facinating about how gourds fit into the daily lives of these intelligent primates.

So on that note have a lovely month of May. We'll see you next month...
                            Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond  
PS Stories, comments or ideas? Please send to info@northerndipper.com


 Volume 8, Number 86


Email: info@northerndipper.com

In this issue:
Calabarte: Lighting The Way With Gourd Art

Tutorial: Making A Gourd Button Basket

Out In The Gourd Patch: Seedling Care & Planting Out

Out Of The Mailbag, Gourd Sightings, Trivia and More 

 The Bulletin Board
Now that we have completed all the spring shows we are shifting our energies to the  popular workshops held at Northern Dipper Farm.

Sign up and bring your friends. It is fun, educational and
a chance to spend the day
out in the fresh springtime air in rural Ontario. 

The schedules are as follows:

Sat. May 5 
Birdhouses & Feeders

Sun. May 6
Gourd Basketry

Sat. May 12

Sat. May 19
South-western Style Bowl 

Sun. May 20
Rimming With Suede

For details click here:

"Being a perfectionist I am always very accurate in what I do. Looking for inspiration is a very active process. It is not just sitting and waiting."

Close-up of doves

 "My scientific mind, patience and manual skills draws me to the creation of complicated, varied, geometric and composite patterns. Nothing about their arrangement is random." 
Doves flying at night
 Such a beauty

Lit up...

"With every lamp I had more and more ideas, findings and solutions. I learned and got more experience. Of course I made mistakes but I learned from those too."

Wall-mounted lamp...

at night.

Advice To New Artists
"If you enjoy working with gourds just keep going and work a lot. Never stop looking for new solutions."

"Experimenting is very important. The same holds true with faults. Remember there is no progress without faults."

"Lastly each new piece should have some kind of  challenge. Then you will get better and better in what
you do."

"In Poland gourd art is rare. Most people just don't know what a gourd is. There are no gourd festivals or workshops or any special online or normal shops that sell tools or supplies for gourd art."

"I think there may be a several gourd artists in Poland but as far as I know I am the only one who is making a living from his gourd art."


Music is important and accompanies Calabarte while he works. He likes to read, spend time with friends and like everyone, have fun.


Tutorial: Making A Gourd  Button Basket

What You Will Need:
- A clean finished gourd.
The size can vary depending on your own particular taste

- Irish Waxed Linen

- Two gourd buttons cut from scraps

- # 3 round reed

- 4 mm binder cane
- Masking tape or a similar tape
Gourd button with beads
Did You Know:
Basket-making is an ancient art form and historically many different types of materials were used.
The four main categories of basketry are:
 Coiled baskets use grasses and rushes
Twined baskets use roots and tree bark

Wicker and splint baskery use reed, cane, willow, oak & ash

Plaited basketry uses wide, ribbon-like materials such as palm, yucca and some types of flax

Gourd baskets (vessels) were used for collecting water, storing wine and other items. In some cultures they were decorated in detail and can be found in museums today.

Out In The Gourd Patch

 Ground, Trellis or Containers - All Three Work!

Each has its advantages and disadvantages and normally space and the type of gourds grown are the deciding factors.
Ground grown gourds ready for harvest
Ground Grown
-Takes up lots of room
- Large gourds such as bushels should always be grown on  the ground
- In rows there should be 8 feet between the rows and 4 feet between the plants
- If they are hilled leave 8 feet between the hills

A trellised maranka in August

-Trellised gourds take up less room and are easy to prune
- Any type of trellising material will work providing that it is strong. (Green gourds can be extremely heavy.) 
- Chain link fences in urban settings are gorgeous when covered with gourd vines.
- Over the winter the gourds can be left on the trellis to dry.
- For dippers, trellising will give you nice straight handles, perfect for knotting.
Ideal for growing mini gourds. They will need more water compared to the ground or trellis grown.

  Out Of The Mailbag 
 Mikey's Mansion 
A little pool anyone!
Let's have a barbacue tonight.
Relaxing after a busy day at Mikey's Mansion.
Meet you upstairs honey.
Time for bed in a room with a view...Sweet Dreams.

 Gourd Sighting
A favorite movie for many is Chocolat starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.  
A gourd was spotted when 
the family's history with chocolate was being told. The chocolate was poured into a gourd and drunk.
To learn more about this movie click here:

  It's A Dog's Life 
Spring has sprung and Mickey loves the taste of that fresh grass. Some people think
dogs shouldn't eat grass, others think they should.
All Mickey knows or cares about is that it's sweet and it makes him feel good. It's a
bit like us having our greens
every day and we all know how good that is for us!

 Music Pick of the Month
  The Musicians:
The Cinematic Orchestra
The Songs:
To Build A Home
The Awakening of a Woman
 To learn more about this group click here:

  "Other Stuff"
Mother's Day has been traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.
During the 1600's the early Christians of England celebrated the day to honor Mary, the mother of Christ.
 It later included all mothers and the day was named Mothering Day.
 Today it is known as Mother's Day, the day where 
mothers from around the
world are honored.
This year, in the US and Canada, Mother's Day is on Sunday May 13.
For global dates click here:
Happy Mother's Day to all those moms and special women who have influenced our lives. Thank you!

 Published by:
Pam Grossi
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7

 Northern Dipper
PO Box 1145
5376 County Rd 56
Cookstown, Ontario
L0L 1L0, Canada
(705) 435-3307
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