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|Gourd Art Process|
From the Field to the Art Studio
Gourds grow best when given plenty of water and a long, warm growing season. I purchase organically grown gourds, or use gourds grown in my own organic garden. Once gourds are harvested in late Fall, it may take up to one year to thorougly dry. Gourds vary in shape, thickness and density. A good, thick, dense gourd can be quite sturdy.
Dried gourds are covered with a epidermis layer, which is first removed by soaking and scrubbing. The hard, wood like exterior is then sanded to create a smooth surface. The interior is cleaned, by first cutting the gourd open, removing the dried pulp and seeds, and then by scraping and sanding the interior surface. The bottom of the gourd may be sanded flat, to insure stability. If necessary, gourd figures or sculptural items are weighted with sand.
Gourd artists often talk about how the gourd tells us what it wants to be. True gourds come in dozens of shapes such as birds, snakes, apples, the human figure, bottles, pots and more. Cross pollintated gourds create an unending array of unusual shapes and sizes. Gourds that grow hanging from an arbor, grow straight. Gourds grown sprawling on the ground (unless set upright) can twist. They are often endowed with a beautiful burl-like mottling. A successful gourd art piece incorporates these natural features into the design.
After a design is lightly sketched onto the gourd, the gourd is then wood burned and carved using both hand and power woodworking tools.
Color and Embellishment
I use professional quality acrylic inks, stains, dyes and paints for both environmental and aesthetic reasons. Professional acrylic mediums are permanent and light fast. Applied properly, acrylics are translucent, enhancing the natural beauty of the gourd. Gourds can be embellished with beads, weaving and basketry materials, cloth and leather. Gourds can be sculpted and joined using pieces of gourd, wood and clay. Another popular decorative technique is to inlay stone, glass, metals or shells. In my gourd work, all embellishment materials are securely attached either by stitchery, or pegged in and glued with professional carpenters wood glue.
Finished works are lightly sanded and then treated with a clear, UltraViolet protective Acrylic spray, to seal and enhance the finished product.
Caring for Gourd Art Work
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