Gourd Lanterns

Alicia W
by Alicia W
5 Materials
2 Hours

Over the years, I've carved pumpkins but I've never worked with gourds. While picking up gourds for another project, I really took the time to look at how beautiful they are and then idea hit me...

...what if I make lanterns using these beauties?

Step 1: Choose your gourd

A - this is a larger gourd with beautiful coloring

B - and I chose a much plainer gourd

A little fact - gourd and pumpkins are in the same family - Cucurbitacea - however, pumpkins can be eaten and gourd cannot be eaten. A squash is also in this family and they too can be eaten.

Learn how to grow winter squash yourself.

Step 2: Cut and clean the large gourds

1 - I used a serrated knife to cut a hole in the bottom

2 - As you can see, the inside is much like a pumpkin

3 - Using a large spoon and my hand, I cleaned the inside

4 - scraping away all of the "stuff" until it was clean

Step 2: Cut and clean the small gourds

1 - I used a serrated knife to cut a hole in the bottom

2 - the I scooped out the insides using a large spoon. You can see the insides are much denser than the other gourd

3 - Once the inside was clean, I cut off the top

4 - and I used a spoon and knife to cut away inside the top. The top didn't have any seeds and was "meatier".

5 - Once the top and bottom were clean I cut a hole through the middle inside

6 - I cut and scooped out the insides so you could see through the gourd

Step 3: Cleaning

1 - I filled a bucket with a gallon of water

2 - then added one cup of bleach

3 - I placed the gourds into the bucket and allowed them to soak about 10 minutes

4 - I removed them from the bucket and allowed them to dry

Step 4: Making the lantern - large gourd

For the first stripped gourd, I used a 1/2" drill bit and simply drilled random holes then I used a flat head screwdriver to clean the holes so there wasn't anything blocking them.

Since this was a new medium to me, I wanted to try staining the outside.

1 - I applied a walnut stain and allowed it to sit on the gourd about 2 minutes

2 - and then wiped it off. Not much of a difference.

For the other stripped gourd, I drew a design on the gourd and drilled holes using a smaller drill bit.

Then I used green craft paint and painted vines and leaves onto the gourd.

Step 4: Making the lantern - smaller gourd

I drew a free-hand design onto the gourd with a pencil

Then used two different size drill bit to follow the design

Step 5: Lights

For safety, I used battery operated tea lights in all the gourd lanterns.

I'm glad I experimented with gourds. They give a unique look to my fall decorations which I love.

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3 of 9 questions
  • Victoria Bachlotte Victoria Bachlotte on Jan 04, 2020

    I might try this..... I am a little impatient though. Do you think a drimmel would work for carving designs on outside?

    Also did you notice a defference in light in places that were thinner?

  • Sharonsgarden Sharonsgarden on Sep 04, 2020

    I would be a bit worried about these rotting. Wouldn’t it be better to get real gourds that you allow to dry first. Then you can paint, drill holes, etc.

  • Colleen Prout Colleen Prout on Sep 05, 2020

    If you put the light in the bottom. What did you do at the top

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2 of 31 comments
  • Jeanne Jeanne on Oct 05, 2021

    They are very pretty though. Personally I enjoy eating them

  • Patti Nicholas Patti Nicholas on Oct 05, 2021

    left on the vine they garden off better but they can be dried off the vine. The trick is to turn them every couple weeks so they don’t rot on the bottom. It takes 1-6 months to dry a gourd depending on the size and type. There are lots of instructions online including how to speed up the process.