Gourd with white waxy film

10 ways to clean a stubborn gourd

Have you ever had a gourd that was covered in a white, waxy substance and you just could not get that stuff off?

Gourd with white waxy film

Gourd with white waxy film

In preparation for an upcoming class I needed 13 medium bottle gourds so I decided to order them from a gourd farm. I am not going to say who (some of you may already know if you read my post on Facebook). The gourds looked decent when I got them but when I started to clean them they turned from a nice bunch of gourds to

Gourds from HellYou know the ones…. they have this thick white or black waxy coating that no matter how hard you scrub you know you won’t get it off during your lifetime.

Well all 13 of these gourds were this way.  After scrubbing and scrubbing for several hours I was about ready to box them all back up and send them back to the farm. Instead I turned to my new best friend, Facebook!

You got to love the internet and especially Facebook! I have a slew of gourding friends out there, whom I have never met, but we help each other out. The gourd group I posted to was wonderful and I immediately got some replys to my frustrated post about getting this stuff off. If you are not a member yet pop over and be part of the gourding world.  With over 1000 members help is just a click away!!

From the post I was able to compile this list of very clever ways of getting stubborn gourds cleaned. I did the black bag, water in the sun, copper scrubby and occasional scrape with the knife and eventually got the gourds clean!!

  1. Place your gourds in a black thick trash bag and fill with water. Leave it out in the sun for a couple of days. You might want to rotate after a day to make sure the gourds stay wet. I personally like to use those ultra thick contractor type giant bags because they are less likely to tear. Gourd stems will tear your bag  There were all kinds of variations on this theme that sound pretty promising
    1. Add Ammonia or Bleach to the water and leave in the sun
    2. Wrap the gourds in bleach soaked paper towels first and then place into the water filled bag.
    3. Add Ivory or Dawn soap to the water
    4. Wrap the gourds in a towel which helps keep them wet and hold them down
  2. Bury them in potting soil. Perhaps fill a garbage can with gourds and potting soil. The  enzymes in the soil will eat away that coating.
  3. Hot water and some type of additive – This was recommended by several people. It sounds like the water has to be pretty hot but one person mentioned if it is too hot it may cause gourd cracking. Some said you could soak for as little as 15 minutes up or up to two days.  I guess you just need to experiment.  You can try adding
    1. liquid fabric softener and floor wax stripper combined
    2. soap to the water (Dawn, Ivory or cheap soap)
    3. Fabric Softener
    4. Fabric Softener and Tide
  4. “The Works” Toilet Bowl cleaner- She cautions to  “stand back! And use it outside with gloves on! Stand back, it’ll eat it right off. Then rinse thoroughly w/ water.”
  5. Cheap Oven Cleaner-  Let it soak a couple of hours and scrub.  I suggest doing this outside and using gloves
  6. Copper Scrubber and Lots of elbow grease. Copper scrubbies is almost a MUST when cleaning gourds. Its the elbow grease part I am trying to avoid!
  7. Carefully scrape with a single edged razor (Be careful to not damage) or a dull knife. I personally got an old dull knife and scrape off what I can and then let soak, and scrape some more. As one person suggested, scrape lines with the dull knife and soak more. The scraped lines allow the water to get under the remaining wax allowing to come off easier.
  8. Clorox Cleanup- Spray gourd with Clorox Cleanup, Wrap in paper towels and spray the paper towels. Leave the paper towel on (did not say how long) and then wash the paper towel off and the white stuff comes off.
  9. Power Washer- If you have one of these they work pretty good but its a two man job, someone to hold the gourd and someone to do the spraying. If you try to do this along your gourds will be in the next county!
  10. Rub your gourd with yogurt and put into a plastic bag, in the sun, for a day or two. I read about this and the person who actually tried this said that it was pretty gross when she opened the bag there were maggots and I am sure the smell was not all that pleasant. After getting over the gross stuff she said the gourd cleaned right up.

So a BIG HEARTY THANK YOU  to all of you who took the time to post and help me out. Someday I hope to return the favor!!








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Gourd Art

Adding more color to your gourd art

If you have been reading my posts you are very aware that I am an avid GourdMaster Ink Dye user for my gourd art. Sometimes, though, I want more brilliant color, or the gourd is dark and the color is rather flat. So I have been experimenting around.

The gourd I was working on was a commissioned piece. She wanted tropical flowers all the way around. Of course the colors in tropical colors are so bright and happy and I wanted to be able to get those colors. I have often read about using colored pencils on gourds so I thought I would give it a try. Since I did not have any colored pencils I borrowed some from my artist friend Penny, who also loaned me her watercolor pencils as well.

Vi Commission Gourd ArtAfter sketching out and burning in the flowers, I wiped it all down with rubbing alchohol so that I could remove any oil or sap that may have been released during the burning.

I started with just colored pencil but really did not like the look of it. The gourd skin is not a super flat surface and the pencil skipped over bumps giving it an uneven colored appearance. Plus it did not lighten anything up. I tried white pencil as well, but did not like the results. So for this piece I switched over to applying a layer or two of white acrylic paint on the flower petals. Once it was dry, I again tried the colored pencil but still disliked the look.

So out came my Gourd Master/Memories ink dyes.

Now the very cool thing that happened was the ink dyes moistened the acrylic paint enough to start blending and coloring the white base. I pushed the paint around, adding more, blending here and there until I finally got what I liked.

Vi Commission Finished Gourd ArtGourd ArtGourd Art As you can see I did obtain some beautiful coloring on the flower petals of the Plumeria. In order to get the flowers to pop I only used the ink dyes on the leaves so that they stayed more muted.

I am in the process of trying the colored pencils again on another gourd and really not liking the results. Maybe when I clear coat it I will like it.

Try experimenting around with other painting mediums.


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Hong Kong Grass Gourd Rim Step 7

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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Sgraffito Gourd Art

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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Bye Bye 2013, Hello 2014!!

Happy New Years 2014

Wow… what a year 2013 has been!!!  As is true for many of you, I am sure, the beginning of the new year is a time of reflection on the year that is now ending. It is also a time when we send new dreams and hopes into the universe.

2013 saw some big changes for me. It is the year that I FINALLY gave myself permission to let go of my job and embrace being an artist full time. For many years my hubby gave me permission but I never felt life would go on if I quit doing what I hated doing in a job I disliked. But the universe has its way of pushing you towards the direction you need to be in order to fulfill your desires, you just need to have your eyes open and be willing to jump.

And jump I did.

On July 1 2013 I left the workplace and entered my studio as a full time, I am going to make it, just try and stop me, oh lordy what have I done, artist.

And to force myself to be productive I rented a space in an artisan mall in Fort Smith Arkansas for a year. Now I had an obligation and nothing says get your ass into gear like an obligation. I also reopened my Etsy store, redid my websites and jumped onto the social bandwagon.

Today marks the end of 6 complete months.

Its always fun to look back and see exactly what I did so here goes.

  • In 2013 I sold  6 gourds through Etsy and 14 through my boutique at BrickCity Emporium for an amazing 20 sold gourds.
  • Two of my gourds went international, one to Australia and one to Canada
  • I wrote two tutorials, Making a Gourd Drum and Making a Gourd Vase with a Dreamcatcher. I have sold several copies of both and I recently had the “Making a Gourd Drum” printed.
  • I held 4 Gourd Classes at the Local College that were well attended and we had a ton of fun. From these classes I discovered a new source for gourds and made several new friends
  • I wrote 27 blog posts on GourdGoddess.com where I shared my techniques and gave reviews of product.
  • I started Email Marketing, Build my Facebook Social Network and played around with Twitter (Which I don’t really get yet but I am working on it.)
  • I participated in only two, very small art shows.

And that is just the gourd side of my Artist Life.  I talk about my pottery half and living the artists life on my other blog at YellowCottageStudios.com

A quick Pictorial of 2013

Gourd Drum Photo 2Thunderbird Gourdturtle-Gourd ArtGourd Drum - FlowersFall LeavesGourd Art Wall decor with Eagle head.

So that was my 2013!!

Going through and really looking at your accomplishments like this is a great boost to your ego and gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment. I suggest you all sit down and do the same. I think you might be surprised at just how successful you can be.


Happy New Years all my friends. Here’s to the FUTURE!!


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