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The Calabash Journey

Every dismoi calabash light is utterly unique, and each follows a journey of its own. From the farm where mother nature devotedly grows them, to the studio where they are lovingly made into beacons of the African heritage.  Each piece is different, an artwork, a treasure grown from the African soil.

Inspired by Nature

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Depending on its use, calabashes can take either months or years to grow. Each gourd tells the story of its growth – some has a small indent from hail, others small scratches from the vine, some grow fat in the shade, and others become tall as they stretch towards the sun.

Because of our preferred size, the calabashes can take up to a year to grow. When the gourd fruit has been allowed enough time to mature to its favoured size, it is plucked. It is then placed in storage where it must dry completely for the shell to become hardened. 

It is in our studio in Johannesburg,  where each calabash is opened, hollowed out, designed, cut and each hole drilled by hand by our experienced team. One calabash can take three or more hours to drill as the gourds are fragile. From there the calabash is transported to local panel beaters, where the gourd is sprayed in the booth. The paint used is widely used as car paint, and works very well on the calabashes as they give additional durability and strength to the product.

Back in the studio, the calabash is fitted, wired and packaged for it’s ultimate destination. One calabash can take twenty-four hours to prepare, and we wouldn’t prefer it any other way, because it is the labour of love that makes this product so unique. This is the heart of our business, hand-grown, handcrafted, and lovingly made boutique home décor.  

About The Calabash

Calabashes can grow on either vines or trees, depending on where you find yourself. In Africa, and more specifically South Africa the vine is more prevalent. The hard-shelled fruits are often erroneously immediately labelled toxic – although it is very true that the plants contain cytotoxic compounds (the same as that of a puffadders venom) – there are some species that can be eaten and are used for cooking in various cultures spanning Africa, Central America and Asia for example.

For centuries calabashes have been used for a variety of purposes all over the world: some were vital to survival such as the water gourds, food containers and utensils that were used by nomadic tribes, others were ingenious, like the development of a diverse range of musical instruments and more recently motorcycle helmets. 

In African society, the calabash is synonymous with life, and is widely recognised as a symbol of the African culture and heritage. The design and architecture of the FNB Stadium in South Africa for example, which hosted the first match of the FIFA World Cup in 2010, was the site of Nelson Mandela’s first speech and his last public appearance, drew its inspiration from the calabash. And so do we.