Gourds…

You likely haven’t noticed that the last several posts have something in common – the topics all start with the letter “G’ – garage doors, gabions & google, and garden organizing.  Well, I am going to continue the trend for one more post – gourds…

I love gourds as home decor!  In fact, I learned decorative painting specifically so I could paint gourds.  This Jack-O-Lantern was my first gourd painting project ever.

DSCN2256

My next Halloween gourd project was purple toads!

DSCN2240

I also have gourds hanging around the house that I didn’t paint myself.  My mom and I both got a witch gourd in Santa Fe many, many years ago (before I started painting gourds myself) – she started the gourd thing for me.

DSCN2368

My sister made this penguin for me.  Totally cute right?  She also grows gourds in her garden!  It seems that gourd obsession runs in the family…

DSCN2326

Finally, this frog gourd stays out all year.  He is perfectly painted (not by me).  He is inspiration.  I strive to paint like this some day!

DSCN2356

I also like to promote gourd appreciation in others.  I participate in a few holiday craft fairs each year – as a gourd ornament artist. I have all year to make ornaments, but for some reason I find myself procrastinating until October of each year.  This October is no different – I am spending every waking moment thinking about gourds, talking about gourds, painting gourds (and now writing about gourds).

Here are my current gourd ornaments in process.  The process is surprisingly simple.  I first fill in the imperfections with wood filler and sand it smooth.  Base coating starts it all off (basically I paint the background color).  White paint is next – eyes, penguin bellies, owl bellies, horse spots.

DSCN2307

The other blocks of colors are added – such as the black parts of the eyes, pink noses, chicken beaks, reptile heads, etc.

DSCN2343

DSCN2351

DSCN2355

Shading is next.  Shading is what creates dimension and depth – most noticeably around the eyes.

DSCN2349

The final painting step is details – a smile, eyelashes, simple highlights that outline a nose, layers of colored dots, and eye details that bring them alive!

DSCN2419

DSCN2418

A little spray finish, maybe some wire ears (or antennas for the aliens), a string for hanging, and it’s ready for fellow gourd appreciators.

DSCN2421

Gourds are definitely a bit of an unusual media.  So, I get a lot of questions.  Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I get about gourds:

Why gourds?  I don’t know – maybe, because every gourd is unique – and the idea of a painted gourd as decor is unusual – I like unusual.

What is a gourd?  It is technically a hard shelled fruit.  Most gourds are not edible. Gourds have been used for ornamentation, musical instruments, and utensils (bowls, spoons, etc) for thousands of years.

Do you hollow out the gourd?  Nope.  The gourd farmer dries the gourd on the vine for several months (sometimes up to and over a year – depending on the size of the gourd).  There is no need to hollow out the gourd once dried.  In fact, if you shake most gourds you can hear the dried seeds still inside.

Where do you get your gourds?  I buy most of my gourds from a farmer in Arizona – I have to clean those myself.  The really small ones come from the Amish in Pennsylvania – those come cleaned already.

How fragile are gourds & how long will the painted gourd last?  The gourds aren’t fragile at all.  I don’t know how many times I have dropped a gourd – I don’t think I have ever broken one.  Dried gourds last a really, really long time – like decades if stored and treated properly – maybe, forever.

Go gourds!