HOWTO make a molded portrait-gourd

Instructables member TimAnderson has a great HOWTO for growing molded "portait gourds," a technique from China and would work with other vegetables. He starts with a 3D sculpture of his subject, creates a mold, and then coaxes the veg to grow within the mold's constraints.

This mold has a flexible rubber lining which makes it easy to remove from the gourd. A plaster mold adheres to the gourd more tenaciously and usually the mold is destroyed in the course of removing it from around the gourd.

The gourd is then allowed to dry slowly, and the outer coating called the "cuticle" is removed. Then the finishing steps, if any, are done.

On this gourd, the details of the face and hair were then traced with the point of a jade knife to enhance the detail, It was dyed with dark tea, and a coat of varnish was applied to make it shiny.

Portrait Gourds Grown in Molds (via Make)


  1. This is very cool, and would be really interesting to try, but I’m sorry, that thing looks like a turd.

    1.  The gourd in the picture has already been dyed. The natural color is much less turd-like.

    1. A commenter at Instructables intimated that you could do other veggies with a Jesus mold, slip them into your local grocery store, and wait for the “miracle” to show up on the local news.

  2. Honestly, if you want a homunculus that much, it’s easier to just summon a demon and ask for one.

    1. undoubtedly. Actually taking possession of it, however, is another matter entirely.
      And that’s not a phone you can hear ringing!
      hehehe. Oldest trick in the book.

  3. Fred Saberhagen taught me that the pressure exerted by a growing gourd can crack open a spaceship bulkhead, therefore I choose to not believe that this molding process works.

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