Most of us wouldn’t give more than a passing thought about eating it when we see a gourd fruit. But Przemek Krawczynski is not ‘most of us’. As an engineer and an artist, he began to picture all that he could create with that fruit and this led to him leave his career in building engineering behind for an independent venture which he calls Calabarte.
Calabash is a bottle gourd which can be eaten like a vegetable or aged and dried to serve as a container. The gourds come in various shapes and sizes and were initially grown in African and Asian countries just to be used as utensils. Krawczynski chanced upon the gourds in 2009 when his mother’s friend gave her a fruit. He looked them up on the internet and came across many pictures of hanging lamps from Turkey which inspired him to try making a lamp of his own.
Krawczynski loved making the lamp and he started looking around for more gourds. He quickly became passionate about it and in 2010, he left the university to focus on doing what he loved. Around that period, he travelled to Senegal and discovered the African calabash which became the material he fell in love with.
Every lamp is carved and engraved by hand and no two designs are the same. Each one creates fantastic patterns on the walls when the light inside is lit. According to Krawcyznski, the hardest part is the carving, more so when it comes to his trademark geometric patterns. Every single line and the curve has to be precise and accurate. The skin of the gourd is barely a millimetre thick in some places and so he craves in the dark, using a light fixed in the gourd itself. The work is already intricate and time-consuming but to achieve perfection, he also ensures that the walls of the fruit are of a varying thickness in order to add to the effect.
M.C. Escher’s art greatly inspires Krawczynski as his own scientific leanings make geometric and intricate patterns more attractive. But considering the difficulty involved in making each lamp by hand and his own perfectionism, it takes him over a couple of months to finish making just one lamp.
Talking about his creative process, Krawczynski stated that he comes up with an initial idea but most of the patterns are created as he works on each gourd. He first makes a rough sketch which he keeps adding on to. Next, he does the engraving and the painting. After this comes the carving stage. Then comes a very important stage – drilling. Each hole has to be drilled in accurately and precisely so that the interplay of light and shadow is perfect. The gourd is then coated with varnish before being placed on a specially made base.
Though he’s created a number of floor, wall, and table lamps, he does have a few favourites such as the Floor Lamp I, Fluorescence, and the Table Lamp XX Butterfly. You can check out his amazing lamps below:
1. This multicoloured swirl pattern looks beautiful both on the gourd and in the shadows it throws on the wall.
2. Spiky and precise, this lamp is reminiscent of mines but it is definitely a thing of beauty and a work of art.
3. The floral patterns on this lamp make it look like the entire room is flowering.
4. This pattern looks like an eye or a small sun and makes the walls look very interesting.
5. The intricacy of the pattern and the perfection with which it is crafted is evident in this picture and it is almost mind-blowing.
6. Besides the accuracy and perfection which go into every lamp, they are all also shipped with adaptors used in the country they are being sent to!
7. Hanging lamps like this one transform every room they are placed in and the colours just add to the experience of having a Calabarte lamp.