Art from the Humble Gourd

Gourd Mask

Gourds are a wonderful medium for artists to work with. Each gourd is Unique in shape, size, and color. That makes them an interesting canvas, one that lends itself well to painting, carving, and wood-burning (pyrography).

Within these pages I will do my best to share my techniques, thoughts on products and anything that can help grow you as a Gourd Artist.

I hope to inspire and encourage you all.


If you ever wanted to try your hand at making a gourd drum or weave a beautiful DreamCatcher in a gourd I have just released tutorials on these two subject. Each instant download pdf  tutorial is filled with high quality color photos (as well as plenty of text) to walk and guide you through these two techniques.

Drum Tutorial

NEW – To make it easier to work with I had the Drum Tutorial made into a full color beautifully made booklet.  This booklet can be purchased for $8 through Etsy. Click on the picture to go there.

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Weaving a rim with Hong Kong Grass

I was flipping through the pictures on my phone the other afternoon and found a really nice surprise. I had photographed my entire process when I weaved a Hong King Grass Rim on a gourd. Since I will be teaching this class on Wednesday I thought it would do me, you and my students some good if I posted the steps.

Finished Piece


I got my 2 ply Hong Kong Grass and the Waxed Irish Linen Thread from the Caning Shop in Berkeley CA

Hong Kong Grass Gourd Rim Step 1Step One- Start the weave in the least conspicuous place on the rim. Generally that will be the back of the gourd unless you are adding embellishments that may hide part of the rim

Hong Kong Grass Gourd Rim Step 2

Step Two- Pre-drill holes all around the rim at a set interval. I generally drill my holes about 1/4 inch from the rim. I eye ball holes all the way around about 1/2″. Make sure your holes are big enough for your needle to fit through.

Hong Kong Grass Gourd Rim Step 3

Step 3- Using a whip stitch secure the grass to the rim as shown. When you start to overlap, instead of going through a hole, push your needle underneath the grass on the previous row. As you can see in the graphics below I bring my thread through in front of the thread on the previous row. This keeps it from sliding forward and looking sloppy.Hong Kong Grass Gourd Rim Step 5Hong Kong Grass Gourd Rim Step 4

Step 4- Continue all the way around until you are at the place where the Grass will no longer be attached to the previous row.  Stitch the final stitch and then wind the thread around the grass until you get to the reattaching point on the rim (see below)

Hong Kong Grass Gourd Rim Step 7

Hong Kong Grass Step 8Step 5- When you are happy, end the weave at the place where you started securing it tightly with the Waxed Irish Linen. I often knot it several times and apply a small drop of white glue to secure.

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Inspiration often comes from other art forms

Sometimes an inspiration hits us from unlikely sources but when they do Magic Happens.

Sgraffito Gourd ArtWhile working on a gourd that was to be the example for a fall leaf class I gave last October I wanted to find a nice way to outline the leaves. In my own work I would burn a line but my students did not have woodburners. I turned to trying various black art pens. (The Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen turned out to be my best choice). Being the perfectionist that i was, the technique was perfect for the class but I was not happy with the finished product for me, as the artist.

For a month after this class this gourd sat on my shelf teasing me and really bugging me because I hated it. Rather than let it get under my Artistic skin I decided to try sanding off the paint, which was Gourdmaster dyes with a Krylon Clear coat, and redo the piece.

Not a big fan of sanding I preceded to really screw up the gourd and now it was half sanded and looking even uglier!!
One day, in between projects, I grabbed that hideous gourd and slapped on several coats of Ceramcoat Black

On a side note, these are very cool paints. I love the black, it covers very well and does not streak!!  

Much better, but now what?

Fast forward to earlier this week… I was answering some questions in a pottery group on Linkedin and a member of one of the groups who saw my gourd work asked if I ever tried the sgraffito technique on my pottery because, he said, my gourd art looked somewhat like that. I had not tried this technique because i hardly even knew what it was but when I saw it I was blown away.  To see pottery done in the Sgraffito technique check this google image page. 

Wow I now knew what I wanted to try on this gourd.  Since this was my first time trying something like this I chose a pretty easy flowery design, sketched it on very lightly and using the very smallest, teeniest bur I had I carved it into the gourd, removing the black and exposing the white flesh. I was instantly in love!!!
Closeup Sgraffito
Here is a closeup of the carving. It was simple yet extremely effective especially against the very black skin.  After clearcoating to protect the carved out areas I added a dreamcatcher in a bright blue and dark beige.

This was a fun technique and came out beautiful.

So keep your eye on what artists are doing in other mediums and you may just find something new and wonderful too!!

Happy gourding.

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