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Gourd Luminaries

Decorate your home for fall with a lovely luminary made from seasonal gourds.




  • Large dried gourd
  • Painter's tape
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Home computer with word-processing software
  • Home printer with paper
  • Scissors
  • Carbon paper
  • Drill with 1/8-inch, 1/4-inch, and 3/8-inch bits
  • Pencil eraser
  • Colored CFL (compact fluorescent) bulb
  • Freestanding wired bulb fixture with plug


  1. Step 1

    Trace the roll of painter's tape onto the bottom of the dried gourd with a pencil. Cut out this circle with a jigsaw; discard. Remove all seeds and loose matter from inside the gourd.

  2. Step 2

    On your home computer, find a font you prefer and print numbers in that font, on regular paper, at about 5 inches tall. (Fonts that have varying line widths within the characters look most interesting in this project.)

  3. Step 3

    Roughly cut out the numbers from the paper. Cut pieces of carbon paper slightly larger than each printed number. Place and tape the numbers on the gourd, with pieces of carbon paper between. Trace over the outline of each number, transferring to gourd. Remove tape, numbers and carbon paper.

  4. Step 4

    Beginning with the 3/8-inch drill bit, drill a few holes within the outlines of the numbers. Fill in the outlines with more holes from the 1/4-inch drill bit. Finally, switch to the 1/8-inch drill bit to make holes in any remaining space. Always drill perpendicular to the curve of the gourd, and be careful not to place the holes too close together, as the gourd may split or crumble.

  5. Step 5

    Erase the carbon paper lines with a regular pencil eraser. Place a CFL bulb in a bulb fixture and set underneath the gourd to light from within. Note: Incandescent bulbs may get hot enough to ignite a dry gourd; use CFL bulbs to safely light the luminary.

The Martha Stewart Show, October 2010



Reviews (3)

  • hopewassil 21 Oct, 2010

    Loved the idea of the colored CFL bulb and the Freestanding wired bulb fixture with plug but not a clue where they can be purchased ~ searched the internet but nothing????

  • handymike 8 Oct, 2010

    If your drill is just a little dulll, you can try using a center punch or a prick-punch to get your holes started, In fact, you can outline your whole design with a punch, and this will show you if you have any blank areas in your design. Happy Drillin'!!!

  • AmishGourds 5 Oct, 2010

    Jjust watched your show on creating gourd luminaries, love the idea! I realized that the drill was in reverse when your guest was having problems, it happens to me once in a while. That was a good thing, now people will know what is likely the reason they are having problems with a drill, and a sharp drill bit is absolutely needed. Gourd shells are slippery! I always wear a rubber coated glove on the hand I am holding the gourd with so it is easier to hold on to. Thanks for the ideas Martha