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Interview: Przemek Krawczynski - Unique And Exquisitely Beautiful Gourd Lamps

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Przemek Krawczynski started making gourd lamps in 2009 after he came across a gourd fruit and started thinking what he can do with it.  He gave up his studies in building engineering and his job in architectural studio to put up a business he named Calabarte.

Calabarte offers unique handcrafted lighting fixtures such as table, floor, wall, and pendant lamps that not only illuminate a room but also throw off amazing designs.

Krawczynski meticulously sculpts the calabash, combining lines and hundreds of holes to create extraordinary designs.  By day, the lamp is a unique sculpture and by night, it gives off beautiful and intricate geometric patterns on walls.

Krawczynski never repeats his patterns - every creation is one of a kind.

Krawczynski working on Table Lamp XXI Questa Art by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

Table Lamp XX Butterfly - InteriorArt by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

Can you tell us about yourself? 

Przemek Krawczynski: My name is Przemek Krawczynski.  I was born in 1983.  I live in Lodz, Poland.

Table Lamp XVIIIArt by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

Art by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

How and when did you first become truly interested in making gourd lamps?

Przemek Krawczynski: For the first time I came across the gourd at the end of 2009 thanks to my mom, who was given one fruit from the friend gardener.

Creating gourd lamps is nothing new and one of the first things I encountered while browsing the Internet were photos of Turkish, hanging lamps.  I decided to make one for my room.  I liked it, so I found another gourds for new lamps.  Soon it evolved into hobby and passion, for which, nearly one year later,  I quit my studies in University of Technology  and job in architectural studio.

Just after that I made a trip to Senegal from where I brought African calabashes.  Since then, they have become the raw material for my lamps.

Floor Lamp I - FlorescenceArt by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

Art by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

What is the most challenging part in making gourd lamps?

Przemek Krawczynski: The most difficult part is probably carving stage. Especially with very geometric patterns like mine, every straight lines, arches and curves has to be carved very precisely.

The deeper layer of white wood allows some light to pass through it and then, at night it becomes red/orange.  At some places it is less than 1mm thick.  To control the depth of the carving I do that work in darkness with a light inside the gourd.  It is very difficult and labour intensive work.  Sometimes I also change the thickness of the wood to make the additional gradient effect which is even more difficult.

Table Lamp XXI QuestaArt by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light 

Floor Lamp II - AffirmaArt by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light 

What inspires you for each gourd lamp you create?

Przemek Krawczynski: Both my perfectionism and having first of all scientific mind determine my style to a great extent.  I am inspired by geometry, complex, harmonious, intentional patterns (I adore works of M. C. Escher) and I try to achieve the same when I design my lamps.  Also the fractals are the mine odd ideas for me.

Table Lamp XI EvolutionArt by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

Art by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

How long does it take for you to finish one gourd lamp?

Przemek Krawczynski: With the course of time, my lamps have been evolving and the patterns have become more complicated and time-consuming.  At this moment, the time needed to create one lamp is about 3 months.

Table Lamp XX ButterflyArt by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

Art by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

Describe your creative process?

Przemek Krawczynski: Almost always I design the pattern directly on the gourd.  But I never have complete idea in my mind.  It usually develops, and I let it go with the flow, not holding tightly to the initial idea.

I start from sketches, then I add grid on which I continue drawing.

Then I engrave the lines and paint the gourd.  Next stage is carving.  Part of that work must be done in the darkness, having only some light inside the gourd, to control the depth of the sculpture.  After that it comes to drill holes. The light effects depend on the precision of the drilling.  For some time, to achieve even better accuracy, the placement of each hole is earlier precisely marked.  After the drilling stage, the whole gourd is protected by special varnish.  The last thing I do is making the base and the final assembly.  Most of the bases is made by me.  Some of them are made by my friend artist.  Of course, as every artist I also have some secrets.

All of the above may sound quite simply but each stage is very time-consuming process.

Wall Lamp VI Waves EquilibriumArt by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

Table Lamp XIV Globe IIArt by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?

Przemek Krawczynski: Each of my lamps teached me something and was a step in my artwork.  I really like my Floor lamp I Florescence because of the pattern and light effects.  Table lamp XX Butterfly was one of the most time consuming lamps because of the openwork carvings but I like the light effects it gives.  I really enjoyed working on my recent three smaller lamps Rivia, Raya and Stilla because I used new drilling technique.  My two Globe lamps were also special for me. I am now finishing new floor lamp which is the result of my whole experience.  It will be released in February and I think it will be my favourite from that moment.

Table Lamp XVII 
Art by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

Art by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light

Thank you so much for giving us this interview. Anything else you want us to know?

Przemek Krawczynski: What I like the most in my work is constant development and discovering new possibilities.  Making the lamps incorporates plenty of various, creative activities – sculpting, painting, drilling, but also technical issues connected to bases etc.  With every new lamp I learn something new, I come to new conclusions and new ideas come to my mind. I can improve my skills all the time.  Although making each lamp is very slow process, I absolutely cannot call my work boring!  Every detail, every minute spent on the gourd is a part of something bigger.  This moment, when I turn my lamp on after a few months and all the light effects fill the room for the first time is something amazing and incredibly satisfying. Though I can predict the effects to a certain degree, the final result is always surprising and magical.

Wall Lamp VII
Art by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light   

Table Lamp XXI Questa - Interior
Art by: Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte | Calabarte. Art of Light 

To know more about him and his beautiful lamps, you may visit his website, www.calabarte.com, Facebook page Calabarte. Art of Light, or send him tweet @Calabarte.


All images are courtesy of Przemek Krawczynski/Calabarte.