Sunday, February 21, 2016

Functional Art: African Calabash Bowls


The Calabash is also called a bottle gourd or white gourd. It is a vine grown for its fruit which can either be harvested young and used a s a vegetable, or harvested, mature, dried, and used as a bottle, utensil or pipe. The fresh fruit has a light-green smooth ski and white flesh. Rounder varieties are called calabash gourds. They grow in a variety of shapes. Hollowed out and dried calabashes are a very typical utensil in households across West Africa. They are used to clean rice, carry water, and as food containers. Smaller sizes are used to drink from. They are used in West African culture to make a Kora, which is a harp lute.

Resources for this Lesson:

Steps for the Art Lesson:
You need a bowl of some sort, a small yogurt cup, some art paste and aluminum foil. You can also use flower and water to make a paper mache' paste instead of using art paste. Whatever you have on hand works great! Below is an image of what the paper mache' shape looks like using the red bowl shape and yogurt container that I used. 

First you need to wrap the red bowl in aluminum foil. You will then place it upside down and paper mache' this bowl. Let dry. You then will tape the yogurt cup with three pieces of masking tape to the bottom of the bowl when it is dry. You will then cut off and unwrap the bowl, take it out and then finish paper mache' in the inside of the bowl. 

I had to cut off the aluminum foil that the bowl original was wrapped in to take it out and have a nice rounded shape. I took the bowls out and only used it as a mold because they were heavy and I could reuse them again. If you find a light weight dish like a cool whip container or something that is light weight you can just paper mache' on top of that and not have to remove the bowl. 
Here is the final pieces. We used white and black as contrast using African animals and authentic shapes and patterns of calabash bowls. 
These are the bowls drying and completed.We painted them white first and let them dry, then we used black paint for the patterns. We used acrylic paint for these as the tempera paint would have chipped off. 

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