Skip to main content
THE ART OF CALABASH DECORATION IN NIGERIA Process of decorating calabash - decoration could be by painting, carving or scorching. - calabash is prepared. - designs are determined. - sketches are made. Calabash is the term used for artifacts made from the hard shell of a fruit in the gourd family "Lagenaria siceraria." Once the calabash is dried and hollowed out it can be used for serving or storing food. It can also be used as an ink pot, cosmetic container and by market women as a money box. Aside from the use as containers, calabashes are frequently adapted as musical instruments such as the flute, violin, harp, xylophone and the rattle (which is made with seeds inside or with cowries/beads on the outside). THE name, calabash is a derivative of the French word, ‘Calebasse’. It is defined as a tropical American tree (Cresenctia cujete) of the bignonia family or its large gourd-like fruits. Calabash and gourd are often used interchangeably. The calabash is simply the dried hollow shell of a gourd used for household utensils. Calabash is a versatile fruit of a creeping/climbing plant which grows easily in almost every part of Nigeria. It produces fruits which are regular in shape. It is in many sizes which determines its uses. Calabashes are mostly round.The calabash is known by various different names depending on the area or people in Nigeria. For example, the Yoruba call it “Igba”, the Igbo call it “Ugba”, while the Hausa call it “Duma” or “Kwarya”. Calabashes undergo some processing to produce household utensils like bowls, cups and water/wine containers among others, not only for domestic uses, but for religious and religious cultural purposes. When the calabashes are ripe for harvesting, those that are to be used as household utensils and/or other purposes are gathered and soaked in water for several days until the seeds are rotten. Then the calabashes are cut open, and the contents are scraped out clean. The shells are dried in the sun until they are hard. The dried calabashes are then ready for use. The natural colour of the outer skin of dried calabash is warm yellow, and it darkens with age and use. The calabashes may be stained in other colours: rose, by rubbing them with millet leaves; blue, with indigo among others. They can also be darkened by hanging them in a smoky room. However, calabashes can be decorated by several different techniques or methods according to the tradition of the area; though some people can use them as they are. They simply wash the calabash regularly. They are numerous varieties of designs and patterns which calabash carvers carry out for calabash decoration. These are achieved by applying the following main techniques or methods namely: Scraping; Carving; Scorching; Pyro-engraving and Pressure-engraving. In the most areas of the country, the techniques or methods in use are combined. For example, calabash carvers in Oyo State or Kwara state combine Scraping Carving and Engraving techniques. In Adamawa State, they combine the Pyro-engraving and the engraving techniques, while in Kwara and Sokoto, Scraping, Carving and scarification as well as Painting methods are used. Calabash decoration The basic tools for calabash decoration include: Knife of different sizes and shapes; iron needles; Saw; Perforated polished can; scrapper; nails; white chalk etc. The decoration techniques are: Scraping Method: This technique involves the use of a sharp knife which sometimes has a serrated edge. This is used to scrape off the pattern motif to some depth, about 2-3 millimeters below the surface. The Fulani women carvers may rub chalk into the scraped area. As the background area is carefully scraped away, then the pattern stands out in the natural colour of the skin of the calabash against a white background. 1. Scraping method: Pick slide, also called pick scrape, an electric guitar playing/sound effect technique. Gourd scraper, also called a pua, a stick used for playing the g├╝iro, an instrument consisting of a hollow gourd. the action or sound of something scraping or being scraped. "the scraping of the spoon in the bowl" a small amount of something that has been obtained by scraping it from a surface. plural noun: scrapings "I got some scrapings from under the girl's fingernails" Carving Method: This is another technique, whereby lines are incised with a sharp knife. The carvers make as many incisions as possible to decorate the calabash both inside and outside. This is also called “Cutting” or “Scarification”. They put their knives in the made or prepared fire. When the knives get red-hot, they use them to design on the calabashes. Carving is the act of using tools to shape something from a material by scraping away portions of that material. The technique can be applied to any material that is solid enough to hold a form even when pieces have been removed from it, and yet soft enough for portions to be scraped away with available tools. Carving, as a means for making sculpture, is distinct from methods using soft and malleable materials like clay, fruit, and melted glass, which may be shaped into the desired forms while soft and then harden into that form. Carving tends to require much more work than methods using malleable materials Intaglio by Engraving There are two techniques to cut the lines of an intaglio print, engraving and etching. Engraving is the oldest method and it uses a burin with sharp V-shaped cutting section, which is pressed gradually down onto the surface of a copper plate and then driven more or less deeply through the metal. It will be raised up at the end of the line to lift out a sliver of copper. Intaglio by engraving is identified by: • Shape of the line. It has clean edges, tends to be pointed at each end and to swell or diminish during its length. The controlled act of engraving also gives the line a formal character. • Engraving is the practice of incising a design onto a hard, usually flat surface by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing images on paper as prints or illustrations; these images are also called engravings. Wood engraving is a form of relief printing and is not covered in this article. • Engraving was a historically important method of producing images on paper in artistic printmaking, in mapmaking, and also for commercial reproductions and illustrations for books and magazines. It has long been replaced by various photographic processes in its commercial applications and, partly because of the difficulty of learning the technique, is much less common in printmaking, where it has been largely replaced by etching and other techniques. • Traditional engraving, by burin or with the use of machines, continues to be practised by goldsmiths, glass engravers, gunsmiths and others, while modern industrial techniques such as photoengraving and laser engraving have many important applications. Engraved gems were an important art in the ancient world, revived at the Renaissance, although the term traditionally covers relief as well as intaglio carvings, and is essentially a branch of sculpture rather than engraving, as drills were the usual tools. Engraving, technique of making prints from metal plates into which a design has been incised with a cutting tool called a burin. Modern examples are almost invariably made from copperplates, and, hence, the process is also called copperplate engraving. Another term for the process, line engraving, derives from the fact that this technique reproduces only linear marks. Tone and shading, however, can be suggested by making parallel lines or crosshatching.


Popular posts from this blog

PORTRAIT PAINTING - small scope.

Artists generally begin with drawings. Drawing of the image which could be regarded as sketch. These do not supersede photographs, but are generally preferred as the very act of drawing requires the artist to study and understand what he is seeing. Nonetheless, there can be problems. Some drawings will come off straight away, but many only after a great deal of effort, and on occasions nothing seems to give a likeness. For that reason, some painters, particularly the more experienced, begin immediately on the oil portrait. By moving from general appearance to telling details they avoid producing a photographically correct but facile/bland/unilluminating facsimile of the subject.

Some general hints:

1. Use the appropriate medium in preliminary work: pencils for a small and/or detailed sketch, chalks or pastel for the broader sketch.

2. Ensure the lighting helps to give strength, solidity and character to the face. It is very difficult to capture a full face likeness if the lighting and fe…


What is Drawing

This simple is the art of using lines to create, depict or represent images or objects in a visual form.
Therefore, drawing is a visual art, it must be visible i.e one must see. The term drawing is applied to works that vary greatly in technique. It has been understood in different ways at different times and is difficult to define. During the Renaissance the term 'disegno' implied drawing both as a technique to be distinguished from colouring and also as the creative idea made visible in the preliminary sketch.

The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines drawing as:

    'the formation of a line by drawing some tracing instrument from point to point of a surface; representation by lines; delineation as distinguished from painting...the arrangement of lines which determine form.'

Despite this insistence on the formation of line and the implied lack of colour, few would deny that a work formed by dot…