Thunder Gourd


Make a Thunder Gourd and take your decorative gourd to another level. Gourd crafts are great but this, out thunders them all!

This does take a bit of time and effort, but the results are worth it. Challenge yourself and make a craft project, not everyone is doing!


thunder-gourd


Age: Adult

Difficulty: Medium

Time scale: 5 out of 5 (cleaning takes the most time)


Supplies:

  • Long necked gourd
  • Scraper 
  • Wire dish scrubber
  • Large plastic container 
  • Water 
  • Bleach
  • Dust mask
  • Saw
  • Drill 
  • exacto knife
  • Sheet of Mylar
  • Stick fast Instant adhesive glue 
  • pencil
  • Spring 
  • Stick pin 
  • Ruler 
  • 1/8 inch drill bit 
  • 24 inches of Leather cord 
  • 12 inch piece of lightweight wire
  • Spray sealer 
  • Wood burner (not necessary. Design can be drawn on instead, with a fine tipped black marker) 
  • Alcohol inks: copper and light brown (or your choice) Alternatively, design can be colored with felts or pencil crayons.


This quirky, decorative noise maker is made from a long necked gourd. Weurtz farm near Cash Grande, Arizona has hundreds of gourds to choose from.

The original creator of the thunder gourd is Mr. Ron Swank. Get what you need at: R&M Swank Enterprises. He has the supplies to make a thunder gourd or even a musical wind chime. 


How to Make a Thunder Gourd

dried-uncleaned-gourd

When you buy a dried gourd, it will have dark blotches, all over it. You will probably be wondering, "How does this ugly duckling, turn into something beautiful?"

There will be colors, hiding under that gunk, that will look amazing, after scrubbing.



Mix a couple caps of bleach, in a large Rubbermaid container full of water.

Soak the gourd for about 20-30 minutes.

The gourd will want to float. You may now decide to build a boat, instead of a thunder gourd. Set a rock or something else heavy, on it to hold it under the water. 

After soaking, scrub with a wire, kitchen scrubby.

First, put on a dust mask! You don't want that yucky gunk, in your lungs. If you have bad lungs to begin with or environmental allergies, make someone else do it.


scrub-with-water-and-wire-brush

Cut down on dust, by leaving the gourd partially submerged in the water, while you scrub.

This takes a bit of elbow grease, but soon, you will see the color changing. It will have a deeper yellow color to it, with some darker tan spots. The grey and black colors will disappear.

When done scrubbing, rinse with water.

Let dry.

Use a saw to cut off the bottom of the gourd. (Up about 1.5 - 2 inches.)

scrape-inside

Now, down to the nitty gritty!

You will need a scraper to clean the inside of the thunder gourd. There are various tools, you can use.

You can make a scraper with a hose clamp and dowel or buy a scraper.

sanding-ball


There are also big sanding balls, that can be attached to a drill. I borrowed one and tried it, but didn't care for it. 

If you have a dremel, it may have a useful attachment.



It is surprising, how tough the gourds are. If you picked a nice thick one, it will be hard, like wood. It won't be comparable to cleaning out the inside of a pumpkin!

If you are having difficulties, soak in water. Now, you can pick at, and then peel layers away. I haven't decided yet, if I prefer this method to scraping it, dry. There are pros and cons, to both ways. Try both, and see which you prefer. Only wet this, if you have time to let it dry thoroughly, before moving on to the next step!


The long skinny neck, is hard to clean. I devised my own method for that part. First, The thunder gourd (which won't be too thunderous just yet), must be completely dry.

Put a couple handfuls of pea gravel inside, cover end with a plastic margarine container lid and shake, shake, shake.
When finished, dump out the rocks. Tap on the neck, to dislodge the stubborn, stuck ones.

Have you now, removed those rocks from your head, by tapping on your neck? I meant tap on the squash, not your melon. If you do have rocks, needing removed from your head (or someone else's), you could try, and see if it works. Let me know; it could be a useful, undiscovered technique.


hole-for-sound-to-come-out


Drill 4 or 5 holes in the back of the neck. This opening is necessary, for the noise to come out of the thunder gourd.

If you have a small saw, you can cut a small design.

decorate-with-a-lizard


Draw a picture on the gourd.

Use a wood burner or a fine tipped felt pen to outline the picture.

Color with felts, pencil crayons or alcohol inks. Make do, with whatever you have.

The entire thing can be colored with a tan, alcohol ink.



For the hanger: Use an 1/8th inch drill bit to make a hole, crossways, through both sides, partway up the neck.

Add a hook to a piece of wire. Poke the wire through the hole. Put a 20- 24 inch piece of leather cord through the loop in the wire. Pull the one end, through the hole. Tie the ends of the leather cord together.


Set the gourd on a piece of Mylar. Trace around the edge with a pencil. Make a small registration line, on the Mylar and up the side of the gourd. This is so you can line the Mylar back up, in the right spot.

Cut out the mylar, around the pencil line.

Add glue to the bottom edge of the gourd.

Place on the Mylar, lining up the registration line.

Check to make sure the glue isn't oozing out and making a mess. Wipe edge with a damp paper towel, if necessary.

Let dry. The glue dries, quickly.


mylar-bottom-on-thunder-drum


If the Mylar is overlapping the edge, trim with an exacto knife.

Use a ruler to find the center of the Mylar.

Dot with a pencil.



special-spring

 

Poke a hole through the mylar, on the dot, with a stick pin.

Put the end of the spring in the hole and twist, to secure the spring.


Spray with two coats of spray sealer.

Let dry.

Now... are you ready to hear the thunder gourd, rumble?
Tap the hanging spring (don't pull) or hold the neck and shake.



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