Art circles craft all around these exquisitely carved, drilled and etched gourd shells shipped from Senegal. The elaborate patterns are not just for show, though – they are made to cast spectacular light displaces on interior ceilings, walls and floors.
Designed and executed by Calabarte, some small etchings are intentionally superficial, remaining opaque or translucent, while others are cut deep for full transparency. Each is naturally unique, but so are the shapes scooped out of it by hand (after each shell is hand-selected, emptied and dried).
Some feature abstract patterns while others form more literal representations (a globe, for example) – many are fractal-like, creating a sort of secondary-but-still-natural layer of visual interest across the surface and in terms of projected light.
Like other plants from Cucurbitaceae family (such as cucumbers, squashes and melons), the shell of a gourd has a long history of adaptive reuse in the form of decoration and ornamentation, on the one hand, and being employed as functional vessels or instruments on the other.