Thursday, April 12, 2012

Laser Printer Spring Gourd Shaker

It may look like it, but I didn't use a random noun generator to name this post. Yesterday I made a gourd shaker with a bunch of the 172 springs from the Brother laser printer.

I knew the awkward day would come when I'd have to share a substandard creation. Not like getting a massage from a T-Rex awkward (picture it, with those short, creepy little arms), but awkward just the same. I did say I'd share my creations, warts and all. And this one has a few warts.

For one, (and I never expected to use these words in the same sentence) the skirt was too short and too tight. So it makes it a bit difficult to shake the skirt. But it looks pretty cool, and if you twist the gourd so the skirt slides around it, it sounds reasonably good I must say.

I bought the gourd last year (and I'm not making this up) at the Idaho Gourd Society Gourd Festival. Remarkably, admission was free. Now, I know what you must be thinking. "Wow, that car must've caused more damage than the doctors let on. He's eating beets and going to Gourd Festivals? That musta been some concussion." I'd like to add that I also attended Tool and Metallica concerts in the last year. I don't know if that redeems me or not. But it's something. Right?

But I digress. The gourd. I bought it for about $4. I washed and scrubbed it, then cut the end off of it to get all the dried seeds and pith to fall out. Since the pieces were too big I put gravel inside of it and shook it like Katharine Hepburn's head. That caused the pieces to break into small chunks and fall right out.

I used hemp string to build the skirt and had to try several different ways of winding them together. There were two very difficult steps to this. 1) hemp string is not woven very tightly and it wants to come undone. When trying to slide a small spring over it, it just gets caught up and tangled. And 2) there was a constant tangle of string and springs. I used clothes pins to try and keep the strings together and prevent them from getting crossed.  All in all, the skirt took me about 1.5 hours to create. Prolly woulda taken 2 hours if I had made it long enough.

I record my videos with my phone, so the audio quality is pretty crappy. This video sounds like I'm dragging a bathtub down an alley. In reality, the shaker sounds much softer than what the video represents. But sans a better audio system, this is what I ended up with.


  1. Cool, it's got a nice rhythm but on a scale of 1 to 10 I'd go with a 6, I couldn't really dance to it.

  2. I've never seen a gourd shaker. For some reason, I assumed the springs would go inside the gourd, like a maraca. Learn something new, etc.

    1. Hmmm... Maracas... maybe something I can use the 550 screws on.

  3. I think there were a couple of times the Impala sounded like that.