Welcome  /  Gallery   /   Shop   /   About Cyndee   /   About Gourds     Art Process    /   Resources  
    History of Gourds  

@ Contact Cyndee


A gourd is the hollow, dried shell of a vine fruit in the Cucurbitaceae plant family, similar to a cucumber or pumpkin. There are 2 main “types” of gourds, ornamental and hard shelled.  Soft shelled, ornamental gourds are the type you see in the fall season and are generally used for temporary decorations.  Hard shell gourds, once dried can last forever and are essentially a soft wood. There are dozens of varieties of hard shell gourds and their varying sizes and shapes have provided man with a multitude of functional, decorative and spiritual uses, such as containers and utensils, boat floats, masks, musical instruments, jewelry, dolls and more.

Gourds are believed to be the earliest plant domesticated by man. Genetic testing has shown that gourds originated in Asia, but were eventually grown throughout Africa, Polynesia and the Americas.  It is speculated that they made their way to America carried across the Bering Strait and by floating on ocean currents.

The Gourd as used in Art today

The American Gourd Society was founded in Massachusetts in 1937, but until recently Gourd Art was a relatively unknown art form, used primarily for primitive folk art, crafts and birdhouses.  A resurgence in gourd arts and craft began around 1990, when Gourd Art Guru, Ginger Summit began to publish a series of Gourd Crafting books. These books, still in print today, introduced thousands of people to the incredible possibilites of gourd art. Since then numerous other books have been published, gourd club chapters referred to as Patches have sprung up and in recent years, tools and art materials specifically made for gourd work has become available.

Modern day artists use the gourd to create functional and decorative containers, masks, jewelry, figures, musical instruments and sculptural items.  Due to the gourds versitility, just about any art medium can be applied.  As gourds are a type of wood, they can be carved, wood burned and sculpted. The fibers can be used in paper making. The gourd form can become structure for basketry and sculpture.  Experimentation and new forms of expression continue to be explored.

Links to Historical Information Regarding Gourds
  American Gourd Society
  A Brief History of Gourds
• Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History

  navigation arrows Welcome / Gallery / Shop / About Cyndee / About Gourds Art Process / Resources