Dragon Bowl: Inverted Watermelon

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About: I am a qualified Industrial Designer based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and UK Citizen. I currently am working as a researcher, Industrial Design Lecturer, and direct a registered Industrial Design Company.

For a long long time people have created functional containers from fruit/vegetable skins. I aimed to do the same from the skin of a watermelon instead of being discarded or composted.

This is a product made through the experimentation with different materials and processes, which is always interesting and provides a large amount of challenges for me. Check out my other Instructable projects, and website if you are intrigued.

Things you will need:
+ A watermelon or part thereof
+ A spoon
+ A craft knife
+ A small bowl for shaping
+ (ideally) warm dry air
+ some patience.
Optional: Oven, hair dryer, rice, plastic container.

Step 1: Empty the Watermelon

The first step is to eat the majority of the watermelon pulp. Don’t cut the watermelon into slices, but rather scoop out using a pudding spoon.

The watermelon I used was pretty much spherical, and what you see in the images is half of the melon.

When you’re done with most of the pulp, you will need to scrape away the majority of the pink flesh leaving approximately 8mm of the more ridged white flesh. Eat all the scraped out pulp and slurp the last of the watermelon nectar (waste not want not).

Step 2: Cutting the Grooves

The next step is to cut grooves into the outside of the watermelon.

The reason for these cuts are twofold: 1 to allow for moisture to escape through the gaps created on the waxy water retentive outer layer, and 2 To allow for the water melon to be folded inside-out.
The interesting aesthetic created by the cuts is a further benefit (however not functional).

The method I created the cuts was to first cut into the skin normal/perpendicular to the edge, approximately 2mm into the surface. Once I completed the network of cuts, I then cut at approximately 45 degrees to the initial cut, allowing for the thin slithers of skin to be removed.

Step 3: Drying Process

There is a large amount of water in the watermelon (obvious) which made for a tricky journey of attempting every drying process I had at my disposal.
1. First I dabbed off most of the moisture with dishtowels.
2. I tried to dry it as quick as possible, which would prevent any mould or rotting to perish the skin.
3. I tried a hair dryer for a while but got bored.
4. I preheated my microwave grill for a while and checked how well that would work.
5. I tried covering it with rice.
6. I left it outside in the sun for a day.
7. A 60w directional spot bulb in close proximity proved the most effective method of removing the moisture.
If the weather was better, I would have had the patience to rely solely on sun-drying, but alas.

The thickness of the skin soon decreased from the 8mm, down to approximately half. The rigidity of the watermelon also soon disappeared, forming a flexible malleable form.

Step 4: Flip It

Turn the watermelon inside out.

The flexible form is now able to be ‘flopped’ inside out, and draped over a form. I used a small enamel bowl, which was a perfect size.

I did not plan for it to fit this particular bowl, but rather had a look through the kitchen cupboard to find a suitable bowl.

The bowl is then left near the heat source to allow for more of the moisture to be leave the skin. You can see a glass weight which was placed on the inverted watermelon. This helped create a flat spot on what would later become the underside of the bowl.

Step 5: Use It

As more moisture leaves the skin, it slowly stiffens and becomes a ridged solid form.

When the bowl is completely dry, the interesting patterns created on what once was the outside of the watermelon now resemble olive green reptile scales. The inside of the bowl has a hard, naturally waxy finish which works rather well as the exposed interior surface.

Although this is not dish-washer/hand-wash safe, it makes for an interesting usable object encouraging the clever implementation/use of what many would otherwise be considered waste.

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38 Discussions

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SwarnalathaR

2 years ago

The rind is edible, and more nutritious than the pulp. It can be used in curries and soups, similar to squash / pumpkin. So when you use half the melon's skin for making this wonderful bowl, the other half can go into a dish for the day. :)

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ohbejoyful

3 years ago on Introduction

Might be fun to make a few as cookie containers for holiday gifting.

I wonder what other produce items can be used...

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mrsgreengenes64

4 years ago

Wow. I've never seen an inside out watermelon bowl before. I like it. Can't wait till summer. I think I'll use a moon and stars watermelon. Have u ever seen one? They have spots instead of stripes. Very cool idea man!

you can get food safe lacquer to seal it. just check your local home improvement store (like home depot, menards or lowe's, here in the USA).

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jj ramz

5 years ago on Step 5

Do you have to turn it inside out ??

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kristell1119

5 years ago on Step 5

cool would be good for storing or displaying small trinkets

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ctpuckett

5 years ago on Step 3

I dried one in a convection oven for 2 hours at 250 degrees. Afterwards, I misted the entire bowl with bleach water to prevent mold and finished it off in the sun. This seem to work with great results.

1 reply
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AnnaBanana1123

5 years ago

Omg I love this idea(now I have a(n) excuse for eating a lot of watermelon)

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Eternal_Tristan

5 years ago on Step 3

Salt might be a good drying agent to pull the moister out, and it would give the added benefit of preserving the watermelon - protecting it from rotting too quickly.

My 7-yr old daughter would LOVE this! It looks exactly like the boat that's in one of her Tinker Bell movies. I'm going to do this right away to surprise her. Great idea, thanks for sharing!

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realife11

5 years ago on Introduction

Very cool!! I'm going to try this, but I will try the following adjustments:

I will cut the inside instead of the outside, with the grid pattern to release moisture, and the outside I'm going to use a wood burning tool to make patterns and designs, so that when turned inside-out, it will be really decorative when dry.

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alex.holt43

5 years ago on Step 5

I'm also curious to how well it has done over time... also how do you expect to clean it ? swiffer?

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lordkuragari

5 years ago on Step 5

have you tried a lacquer or some parafin wax to seal it?

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=PK=

5 years ago on Step 5

What a nice idea! I have to wait for a long time before I'm able to eat any watermelon here (Chile). Anyway, I think I'll try to put some (several) layers of enamel to make it washable. You know, being married turns you into a little pickier...

Congratulations!

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poikilotherm

5 years ago on Step 2

If you were to leave the watermelon like that and dry it, it would make a cool light fixture.

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foehn

5 years ago on Step 5

Have you tried covering this bowl (after drying it to "bone dry") with some polyurethane stuff, like it used for wood floors/furniture? It would look nice and would keep it usable for holding dry stuff longer. You could call it "preserved dragon hide." :-)