Here's how to grow gourds in a mold to create any shape you want.
Even portrait sculptures. It's an ancient technique from China.
This method also works for other vegetables. Portrait pickles anyone?

Jim Widess, proprietor of "The Caning Shop" in Berkeley CA and author of many books on gourd craft walks me through the steps.
These molds and gourds were made by the Chinese master Zhang Cairi.

Step 1: Get or Carve the Original Pattern

Here's Jim Widess holding mold-grown portrait gourd sculptures of himself.
The light-colored one is the gourd's natural color. The darker one was stained with dark tea.

Almost any object can be used as a pattern for gourd mold.
Most likely you'll want to cast your head full-sized and make a mold from that.
Watch this space for an instructable detailing that process.

The mold must be slightly smaller than the gourd's natural size.
Match the gourd to the rough size and shape of the object you're molding.
There are gourds that grow very large and in a variety of shapes.
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<p>Nice! This is exactly what I was after. My question is, how do you make the actual mold? And if one did the latex method of making a mold, how do you create a mold of the object you want in the shape of a gourd? Great instructables.</p>
<p>Wow Jim! This is so, so cool! I've always loved coming to your shop on 8th Street and miss my times there for gourds, beads, leather, classes, etc. I think I may want to try this new thing!</p><p>Ellen Willingham</p>
wow, there is a site called www.fruitmould.com has more type of this kind of molds , there are square watermelon molds ,buddha pear molds ,baby shaped molds and many other type of molds , you can check ,there will be a lot of fun ...
I once grew a pear inside a bottle for pear infused vodka. It tasted great and really impressed everyone who saw it. <br>I had heard of the molded square melons before and always assumed that the mold needed to be transparent to allow light to fall on the surface of the fruit. I guess gourds don't need sunlight on their skin to grow. Great project really has me inspired for spring.
&quot;the outer coating called the 'cuticle' is removed&quot;<br><br>Anyone care to speculate on the process for this? Gentle abrasion, chemical process, very tricksy work with a peeler...?
Happily, the first related project (see sidebar) covers exterior scrubbing and waxy cuticle removal <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-clean-a-hardshell-gourd/step2/Cleaning-the-outside/">here</a>.
They must be out of their gourds. ; )
http://www.instructables.com/id/Gifts-For-Guys/<br><br>Put you in my gift guide for guys! Just thought I'd let you know :)
Can you grow more than one gourd inside a mould? If so it would/could make for some really interesting effect....<br />
So long as you leave enough space so that the vine's aren't having any weight put on them I can't see a problem with it. <br> <br>Wouldn't water get into the mould and rot the gourd in the process of the casting?
this reminds me of 'Invasion of the body snatchers' pods
You could make some crazy gourds if you had a 3D printer. Good instructable. +
Did you see <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.instructables.com/forum/TZTQBKFF7YGTCJV/">this video</a>?<br/>
I looked at the video and was wondering, well, exactly why did you encourage us to watch that video? Was there something relevant to this instructable? Maybe I missed something. Please clarify.
Cheers! Wish I had that much energy. Keep up the good work.
awesome portraits!&nbsp; weirdly enough you share the same facial structure as danny divito!<br />
Nice one! They look beautiful and strange.<br/><br/>How about making a portrait mold in which the gourd stem comes out of the top of the head? Gourd bottom = face, gourd top = hat, remove hat to fill head. <br/>
haha yeah, you could make it look like a garden gnome lol
A very cool instructable.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> This is similar to an idea a friend once had to mold eggplants or other vegies to make Jesus faces and then to reverse shoplift them -- sneaking them into supermarket bins for people to find.&nbsp;&nbsp; A miracle!<br /> <br /> I think the Japanese used to mold square bamboo for furniture making.&nbsp; Also, someone was molding cubical watermellons for more compact shipping and storage in refrigerators.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> <br />
Hi :0) Oh Brilliant one! Can you suggest some possible objects that I could use for molds?
COOL! One promblem though, where do u get the gourds
I bought seeds in home depot.. <br />
That's AMAZING! I never figured that gourds would grow to fill whatever space they occupied. Truly outstanding science.
can anyone tell me how to book mark this instructable? i would like to be able to refer to it again. it is awesome
This is a brilliant technique! Pumpkins could be used in larger molds for Halloween decorations. You could also make gourds look like other kinds of food, like cucumbers that look like ears of corn or hot dogs, for instance.
I'm wondering if soap molds or chocolate molds might work? I don't have the skill to make my own mold. your gourds are phenomenal! wonderful tutorial. Thank you!!
Hey... I know that Jim Widess guy! Awesome tutorial. I wish it was gourd growing season, as I'd love to try this out. I guess I could try to come up with some molds for when it *is* time.<br/>
You're my favorite person of the day for posting this. Thank you so much; I absolutely have to try it.
Hilarious. Anxiously awaiting the EPS mold making tutorial.
Does this only work on gourd-like vegetables? Or do other plants work, such as potatoes, lemons, etc.
Besides the possible industrial/functional uses (which are running through my head as we speak), I also envision a real potato that looks exactly like the modern plastic Mr. Potato Head.
The only problem with Potatoes, is since they grow underground, It would be quite difficult to partially dig around the plant, put the mold around one of the smaller potatoes, then bury it again. :)
wait, do the gourds keep for ever, or do they ever go bad?
they dry out and are usually pretty hollow after a while, so they don't have any moisture to go bad. They can quite a long time. I've seen people use them for maracas (seeds still inside) or cut a small hole out and hang them as bird houses.
i heard that they grow watermelons somewhat like this in japan, except in a box shape so that the watermelons stack
if you dry out gourds they can last "forever"
Very awesome instructable my friend. I have a question about what kind of gourd that actually is. And how long does it take to get to stage one?
hahaha, should have kept it in that genie form haha
This is great. You could do a chess set or something like that. Have you done any religious figures yet? That would be a miracle!
If I'm not mistaken, Epcot at Disney uses this method to grow 'Mickey' pumpkins.
Your patience is amazing. And so is the project! Nice work.
Read about someone doing this with pears several years ago. However, they used transparent plastic enclosures. Didn't realize it was so old and could be so low tech! Will do next year!
This is really fantastic!
Unbelievable! That is too funny.
That's crazy! Wonder if it'd work with cucumbers.......
Wow, I would not have imagined it. Hey, can you use Zcorp printers to make molds? You could create a whole "vegetable museum" that way to rival Madame T. Beethoven (or Charly Brown) busts made from pumpkins.

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Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of www.zcorp.com, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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