Making a living doing exactly what you enjoy doing is a blessing. There’s one lucky man called Bai Zehua who owns a shop selling handicraft made from gourds.
Working with gourds has always been my hobby. I enjoy painting on them, carving designs on them and embossing designs on these gourds.
For embossing, the gourds should be chosen carefully. Gourds with a soft skin are easy to emboss, but the skin bounces back as soon as you apply pressure to them. Patterns embossed on gourds with hard skins might look shallow, but the final effect is much better.
The art of embossing gourds originated in the late Qing Dynasty. At that time, artisans used bone tools, but nowadays we use tools made from agate or steel. Now, I will show you the whole process of making embossed gourds. First, you should design a pattern on the gourd and then carve the outline with a sharp knife. After that, choose a suitable type of knife to emboss the pattern on the gourd.
Gourds are very popular in China. People use them in many ways, as these gourds have many meanings.
Gourds are considered very auspicious. The pronunciation of gourds in Chinese is “Hulu” which sounds similar to the Chinese word happiness and wealth. And gourds have a lot of seeds inside, symbolizing a big family with many children. Nowadays, people still like to keep gourds to avoid evil spirits.
To make a unique gourd, artful decoration isn’t enough. The curvaceous shapes of gourds can be molded artificially as it grows.
The shape of gourd handicraft is very beautiful. This one in my hand is a specially-shaped gourd manipulated by using several kinds of techniques. What you see is not its natural shape. In order to make it looks like a “Ruyi”, we tied ropes on it and put it in a mold before it became ripe.
Because gourds have a high degree of elasticity, different designs can produce different effects. Gourd handicrafts can be made using different kinds of techniques, such as tying it with rope, burning designs on it, carving it with a knife and scratching it with a needle.
I love gourds and I’m so happy to work with them. It is a way to carry on historical and cultural traditions.