Fresh batch of gourds from a new friend

Last Monday I had the absolute coolest time.

In September I held a Gourd Class at Brick City Emporium and met a wonderful woman, Linda,  who is an artist and a fellow gourd enthusiast.   During our conversation Linda shared with me that she had a “barnful of gourds she wasn’t going to use”.

Oh Linda, those words were magic to my ears!!

Not wanting to let this golden opportunity go by I made arrangements to visit with Linda and see for myself.

Last Monday I donned my overalls, because that is what you wear when you go into barns, and drove out to her place. We did not have to go much further than her garage to find oodles and oodles of gourds.

My jaw dropped, I broke out in a sweat, and without any thought to spiders or other creepy things I dug my hands into bins and bins of ornament sized gourds and kettle gourds.

One Dozen uncleaned gourds

These are the gourds I picked out just for my up coming class.

Gourds

This box is filled with ornament sized gourds

We did not stop at her garage though and we did get to her barn where she had giant black trash bags all filled with gourds stacked as high as the ceiling.

Anticipating my visit she had already popped open some of these bags and had gourds everywhere.  Most were kettle gourds,  goose neck gourds and ornament/jewelry sized.

Oh I wish I had brought my camera so I could show you this barn but if I had my camera I completely forgot about it!!

Who could blame me.

I left Linda home three hours later with 92 gourds!! I have the gourds for my next two classes as well as a bunch for myself.

In fact this is what I have been working on over the weekend. Its one of the gourds I got from Linda. It was one that she had already cut a small hole in the bottom to harvest the seeds so I decided to turn it into a gourd lamp. When I finish it I will post it.

Kokopelli Gourd Lamp

Not completed yet but all the burning has been done

As I mentioned earlier in the post, Linda is also an artist. She loves to paint historical Fort Smith scenes in Acrylics but also paints on gourds, glass and ostrich eggs. You can see her artwork here. I really enjoyed meeting her, working with her and her generous spirit.

Thank you Linda!!

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Drying Gourds, the down and dirty!

Hello there fellow gourders

If you have been reading my blog you already know that this is the first year of raising my own gourds in a 10×10 garden right outside my studio.  It has been such a thrill watching them grow, seeing them form and later, finding some hidden away in all the leafy mess!!

As the weather is cooling down and the garden is dying out my thoughts are on…

What’s next? What do I do now?

If you are growing gourds, I bet that is your thoughts now as well, unless you have had gourd gardens in the past and you already know what to do.

So I have been asking, and reading and basically the answer is

I don’t have to do anything! 

Reality is I really have to do absolutely nothing, which is the kind of gardening I love.  Gourds have been growing and maturing and hardening all by themselves FOREVER, without our help.

What I have read is that if you leave the gourd alone, all winter long, in the snow even if you get snow, that it will be just fine. In fact, several websites suggest that if you let them “do their thing” outside in the garden they are the better quality gourds.

The plants will die out at the first frost but the gourds themselves will be just fine.

But we can’t leave things alone, now can we?

So I decided to experiment.

OK, so I have to admit my first experiment, removing the gourds a little early from the plant, came about by mistake. As my garden became over grown and the runners hit the lawn, my hubby could not mow, so it became unsightly. I decided to clear out a bunch of those runners, leaving the ones with gourds alone, but I did not stop there, I continued into the garden, shears in hand to clean it up a bit. Inevitably I cut a few stems I should not have and severed the gourd from the plant.

My Bad….

So that is Experiment #1. What happens to a gourd when it is removed from the plant while the stem is green. At this point (about 2 weeks later) these gourds look great.  I left them in the garden. Their stems have turned brown.

Experiment #2 is what is referred to as Green Cleaning. A fellow gourder from Facebook Group, Pyrography Gourd Art, recently posted a short video on green cleaning.

Green Cleaning by Paul R. Buhrmester. His short video led me to trying it on two of my gourds, so we shall see what happens.

Green Cleaning or Scaping of a gourd from start to finish

Green Cleaning or Scaping of a gourd from start to finish

By far the easiest will be Experiment #3, which is leaving them alone, in the garden, all winter long !!  Nuf said.

But here are a few things I did learn about drying gourds that I felt was necessary to pass along.

  • They need lots of ventilation. A gourd is made of 90% liquid and that liquid needs to come out before the gourd is art workable.  It does that by shedding it through its skin and stem. Therefore, if you harvest your gourds and place them someplace to dry make sure there is plenty of air flow. Don’t let them touch each other either. 
  • They smell while drying, so you want to make sure that you dry them someplace where the smell won’t be a concern. In other words drying in the spare room of your home is probably not a good idea. Only one website, amishgourds.com, mentioned this but I thought it was pretty important to note. You can read their whole post by clicking the their website above. Its a very informative read.
  • Mold is basically a good thing because it means that the gourd is doing what it is supposed to do and that is shed the inside liquid. You can clean it off with diluted bleach or peroxide solution but it will pretty much  come back. This is what causes the mottling affect (which I love) but if you want a really clear skinned gourd, wash it off.
  • If there are soft spots or mushy spots on your gourd, throw it away, immediately. Its rotting  and you can’t stop it. What I read is that you will always lose some, so kiss it goodbye and throw it in your compost pile.
  • Your gourd is ready for crafting when it rattles when shook, meaning all the inside stuff is dried. But i did not really have to tell you that. If you work with gourds, you know what a dried gourd feels and sounds like!

With all that said, I will see what happens with all these gourds next spring.

I have already laid out my gourd garden for next year. It is a bit bigger  (20′ x 24′). Right now I have big sheets of black plastic on the ground killing all the grass and weeds. Next spring we will till it up and I already have ideas for making fences for the gourds to grow up on.

Gourd Garden for 2014

I have laid out my gourd garden for 2014

 

 

 

 

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12 new, beautiful gourd drums hits the streets of Oklahoma!

Last night wrapped up our last night of the gourd drum making class I held at Carl Albert Community College.  What a fun and adventurous time we had and what beautiful, and unique drums came into the world.

The class was full with 12 people in attendance.  That was about all I could handle. Since the class was being held inside these folks did not get the opportunity to clean and cut their gourds.

I got to do that. It took me almost a full day to scribe, cut, clean and paint the insides of these guys!!

Note to Self: Find someplace to hold a class outside so the students can learn this. After all, they need to know how!!

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I knew that we needed plenty of time to attach and stretch the drum head so I really pushed to get everything ready for that.

On Tuesday evening, the first evening of class, we spent our 2 hours painting the gourds and preparing the head by stitching a colored rope around the outside of the skin. Not only does this rope add a bit of color (if you use colored rope) and dimension to the drum head but it also helps, when we are pulling on it to stretch it on, to not tear the head.

On Thursday night the only thing we needed to do was attach the heads which took us all 2 hours.

We had some giggles with the use of the word “head” as in the “drum head.”

For example as I walked around, unknowingly and not attempting to be funny I would say:

  • Your head is on crooked (giggle)
  • Drop your head in the water bucket (giggle)
  • Your head is lopsided (giggle.. not very complimentary!)
  • Go soak your head (giggle, how rude is that)

Two ladies, sisters, brought in their own leather and beads and other things to fancy up their drums. It was so cool.

One drum was almost a disaster because it was a smaller gourd (7″) and the base was too big for a 5″ ring. When she got it all together it was all leather and was not appealing. Fortunately I had thrown my upholstery tacks in my supply case so we were able to recut the skin to remove the holes we punched for the cord and used the tacks to tightly attach the head. Normally I would have used a staple gun but I wasn’t THAT prepared!!

But the gourd looked adorable and it was exactly what it needed!! You can see it in the 8th picture. She looks like she is strangling it thought but I promise you she loved it!

Ok… one confession to make.  I bought plenty of drum cord for 12 drums but forgot to read my own tutorial on drum making so when I cut the cords I cut 10 foot pieces instead of my recommended 15 feet!! Yikes.

15′ would have been overkill, 12′ would have been perfect, 10′ was a very uncomfortable length. But it did force everyone to really stretch their heads (giggle, see what I mean!) and we were able to make the 10 feet work in all but one drum, and she resourcefully added a bit more cord.

So thank you guys and gals for coming to the class. It was fun working with all of you!!

If you did not get to come to the class and want to make a drum from a gourd I have published a tutorial.  Gourd Tutorial.

Happy Gourding.

 

 

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Fall is in the air and the gourd garden is starting to die down

This morning we had the lovely opportunity to sit outside on our front porch while we sipped our morning coffee. The air was  cool (finally), the ducks were very active in the pond and it was a glorious way to start the day.

Of course, I don’t expect the coolness to last too long today so we enjoyed it while we could!! But it is a reminder that fall is right around the corner.

This cool morning was a perfect time to clean up the gourd garden and see what is happening in there. You may recall that this is my first year growing my own gourds and I had no idea what to expect. I ended up with one very small garden overflowing with gourd plants.  So much so that I have no idea whats going on in the center of the garden because it was so overgrown.

But look at what I found!! 15 glorious gourds in all. Some are big Bottle Gourds, some are small but they are all very beautiful.

Garden2013-02-resize

Little Guys

 

 

 

 

Funny thing is, the gourds has started to bloom out again which I was pretty sure I did not want.

There is not enough time left in the season to allow gourds to grow up so I decided that all the runners, vines and blooms had to go, to open the maturing gourds to the sun and allow them to continue to dry.

Garden2013-03-resize

So this morning I got out my clippers, donned my gloves, put on real shoes and ventured into the gourd jungle.

I snipped away all the runners, and found gourds buried under the very tall grass. I found gourds I did not even know were there.

Next year these gourds will become vases, drums, bowls or whatever sings to me. For now they will rest in the garden, growing hard and strong.  Sweet winter sleep dear ones.

Garden2013-04-resize Garden2013-05-resize Gourd Garden 2

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