Banana Bottles
by Lynne Slack



 
I first made them as powder horns for a re-enactment. Though a number of than were purchased to carry black powder, other uses for them became obvious—one woman bought a small one for a necklace; another woman for a "medicine bag;" and a man told me his was to hold his cognac! I have since lined some of them with bees wax to hold spirits. The creation of the Banana Bottle is fairly simple, though cleaning the inside can be tedious.

First, saw off a section of the stem end—far enough down the bottle to create at least a 3/8ths inch opening. At first I used long thin sticks with a bit of a "blade" whittled on the end for scraping and breaking up the lining and seed case. More recently we've fashioned metal scrapers from a heavy gauge wire, looped on one end for a handle, and flattened on the other for a blade. 
A pair of hemostats is usefill for pulling out stubborn seeds and chunks of lining. Sturdy tweezers will also work. 
A small bottle brush should remove any remaining lining.

A tightly rolled tube of fine sandpaper will smooth the inside of the mouth of the bottle. To use your bottle for a liquid it should be lined with melted wax or washed and dried repeatedly until the funky gourd smell has disappeared. For durability, I woodburn my designs on the outside, sometimes painting as well, then seal under several coats of polyurethane. 
After the finish is well cured, I proceed to the final step which is a kind of leather harness for hanging the bottle. About an inch or so below the top of the bottle, pencil a ring all die way around. On this line, score the shiny finish (if applied) with a file or creased sandpaper so the glue adheres well. Various cords or twines would do as a harness. I use thin strips of soft leather-2 long strips from which the bottle hangs and a short one run through slits in the hanging strips and wrapped and super-glued around the bottle where the line has been marked. The harness is further secured with one or two short brads (you might have to clip them) pushed through the leather and into, but not through, the wall of the gourd. 
The final step is to buy or fashion a cork to snuggly fit the opening. "The finished Banana Bottle is attractive and unique and its uses are limited only by our imagination.