Of gourds and copper
My son Luka, a botanist, was compelled by my 13 year-old gourd pipe to tell me some interesting facts about gourds. The 'calabash' gourds used to make pipes with that namesake come from the same family of vines as the cucumber: the Cucurbitaceae family. This is not to be confused with the Crescentia calabash tree, which is in the Bignoniaceae family, but which has also been known to yield smoking gourds!
A highly regarded fruit in many cultures and throughout history, gourds have been used as a food, for containers, lamps, musical instruments, and of course, pipes. Personally, I find the gourd shape itself to be an inspiring and very appealing form.
One of the first gourd pipes I made back in 2002 is still one of my favorites to smoke.
But now I have the opportunity of 'gourding' through copper by building a set of copper lamps inspired by the gourd and the Wabi-sabi tradition. The concept of aesthetic through transcience and imperfection is called Wabi-sabi. Read more here. Along with briar wood, copper is a perfect medium for expressing that organic aesthetic--I leave the hammer marks and stain the metal with a dark chocolate patina.
The copper for these lamps comes from the roof of an old building in New York City, and they go back to the same building to light up the roof-top gardens.