Andean master carvers travel to the gourd fields on the Peruvian northern coast to ensure and inspect the quality of their raw material. Gourds, vegetables very closely related to pumpkins, squash and cucumbers, grow in a variety of shapes and sizes which allow gourd carvers to create a variety of functional and decorative pieces. The elaborate process starts by selecting and “green-scraping” the gourds, using a dull knife to shed the outer green skin and reveal the lighter color below. Laid out on the sandy beaches, the gourds dry naturally in the hot Peruvian desert sun.
Now the creativity of our artists is ready to shine as original patterns are sketched on each gourd and intricate designs are hand carved with precision with simple hand chisels.
Using a technique called pyrography, artists use fire to create the rich shades of browns and black in each natural art piece. At times, after the carving and burning, a white paste is applied to highlight the intricate carvings. Then, depending on what the gourd will become - a box, a bowl, a basket, or perhaps a birdhouse - it may be cut open, and the inside scraped, ridding the gourds of seeds and fibers, then cleaned and coated. The finished artwork is both complex and beautiful, presenting you with a one of a kind piece with a tradition that dates back more than 4,000 years.