Monday 12 November 2012

Let's make art! Gourd Art!!

A few weeks ago I took a class to make "Gourd Art". Oh... was it fun! I wanted to share my experience with you. Jane Bogg's taught the class, "About her" is below. She is fun and wants to help you become a "Gourd Artist" outside of class. She is excited and interested in you really learning the art, which make for a wonderful experience for her students. She also sell her art from her studio, contact information is below.

Gourd Art~Let's get started!

Gourd cleaning instructions:

I learned the Soaking method. My gourd didn't need much soaking. However, if your gourd does put it in a sink or bucket and soak under water. Put a wet towel over the gourd to hold in down in the water.

Use a copper or stainless steel scrubber to scrub all the skin off, this is where your elbow grease will come in. Be sure to scrub the stem too. If you have some stubborn spots, soak a little longer. Or use a melon baller to scrape gently,but, firmly.

Once the gourd is clean, keep it in the shade to dry. It will only take a few minutes. At this point your gourd is ready to  be transformed into your beautiful creation!

Cutting the gourd: The gourd dust can irritate the throat and respiratory system, so you need to use a face mask when cutting open and cleaning the inside of the gourd. A simple, paper mask usually works fine, but if you are extremely sensitive, use a professional mask. Always cut your gourd on a solid non slip surface. You could use a piece of shelf liner for a grip.

To make an circular cut use an embroidery hoop or mason jar ring or a template to pencil the line on the gourd. Use a wood burner or hobby knife to make a slit into the gourd. Now you can insert the blade of your saw and saw on the pencil line. This can be done with an electric jig saw or a hobby knife(manually). Some gourds are extremely thick shelled, so a hobby knife with a saw blade attachment may be hard work! 

Cleaning the inside:

The inside of a gourd contains the dry seeds and membrane, which you can discard. Again, a face mask is recommended for cleaning the inside of the gourd! Use a hand scraper to clean the inside of your gourd. It looks like this.
Gourds are very similar to wood and cracks are easy to repair using a wood filler and once you have dried and sanded you won't even tell the where the crack is. Or you can make the crack part of your art piece as one of my classmates did.

Up until recently "gourders" had to depend on products that were created for other mediums to stain their gourd, such as shoe polish and leather dye. Leather dye became popular because it is available in a wide range of colors. However, leather dye was created for leather, not gourds, and along with the mess and difficult to work with, the colors fade...a lot. Now there is a Gourd ink dye created by Gourdmaster Products. These ink dyes come in a wide range of colors, and are fade resistant, semi translucent and non toxic. They are very easy to work with, simply apply the ink dye using a applicator cube or a piece of felt. When you first apply the ink dye, it will look very glossy and shiny. When it dries, the color dulls a bit. To bring it back to life apply varnish, that will give  your artwork a long lasting, durable finish.

Painting the gourd:

For painting gourds, acrylic paints are extremely popular. There is a gourd paint available and made by Gourdmaster.

 You can also wood burn your gourd which is what I did on mine. If you really get into gourd crafting, you will find a woodburning tool (formally known as a "pyrography tool", is almost indispensable. Jane has 5 or six of them. These are not the little "boy scout" type, these are HOT! I am now a proud owner :-)) 

To wood burn images onto your gourd, you can transfer designs with "Stick and Burn" design transfer sheets. These sheets are made to go through your printer, so you can copy or print your design right onto the sheet. Once printed, simply cut out your image, peel away the backing and stick the image directly onto your gourd shell. Now, trace your lines with your wood burner right through the micro film. I did not use this technique on my gourd, but, several others in my workshop used stencils to trace their design on to their gourd.

Another technique used in gourd art is inlay. It incorporates precious stones or beads that have been inlayed into the gourd. This requires a Dremel carving tool. You carve the marked holes into the gourd, number your stone and the hole it will fit in.

Also, weaving pine needles along the rim of your gourd is a beautiful compliment to the natural look of gourds and it is easy. No one in my workshop did this, however, it is done by drilling holes into the rim of the gourd. Once your holes are drilled you can attach your pine needles. Use a Waxed linen thread and a needle large enough to accommodate the thickness of your thread; use a small bundle of pine needles and sew them onto your gourd rim, adding more as needed.
 Here is a image of pine needles that have been sewn onto the rim of the gourd.

 I used a wood burner to burn the lines the shadow the rim of my gourd.

Then I used acrylic paint to pant the black area, then stained the lower part of my gourd. Next I drew lines to separate areas to put my doodle or Zentangle into. I loved doodling in junior high and high school, so, flashback!!

 Next the fun part......doodle, doodle, doodle. I used all sorts of ideas and even used some of my free motion quilting patterns I developed when I worked in the furniture industry. I used a fine tip and medium tip, black, permanent marker.

And my finished piece after varnish.

 In conclusion, when it comes to gourd art, the possibilities are literally endless! Here is my workshop mates! Some had left already, so, I miss a few.

 So if I have perked your interest in a new art yippee! Be sure to experiment with your own decorating and ideas, and most importantly, have fun! If you are interested in classes, Jane is available and lives in the north Scottsdale area.

Jane pictured in the black apron.

 Gourd Artist Jane Boggs started calling Cave Creek, Arizona her home in 1995.  Although she spiritually feels she has been there her entire life.  When she and her husband John purchased their Pueblo style home in the serene Sonoran desert, Jane knew she had finally come home.

Art has always been a part of Jane's  life but when she discovered gourds, there was an instant connection!  She began combining her fascination with the Native American Indian and African cultures with this wonderful newly emerging organic art medium:  The Gourd.   Although, most of her work is done in a southwest style, occasionally a contemporary or abstract piece will emerge. To be able to offer art in a unique way with such a different medium was the perfect challenge that would become one of the main focuses of her life.

Each new gourd that is created has a story and a life of its own.  Jane truly feels that if you are receptive the gourd will actually tell you what it wants to be.  The awakening begins when she prepares the gourd by scrubbing the outside surfaces to reveal its true colors and contours. She feels the piece at this stage and begins sketching the design in her mind that will transform it into what she refers to as her "gourdian spirit" art piece.

As she etches the designs into the gourd using a pyro-graphic technique, her hands expertly control the depth and style of each engraved stroke.  She then applies the tan and maroon-colored leather dyes that complement the surface; then she adds stains, inks and acrylics that will bring forth her vision into reality. She finishes her work, depending upon the piece, with exotic feathers, leathers, precious stones, copper, natural reeds and grasses, which give each piece their truly original look.

Jane's home studio, "Gourdian Spirits Studio,"  is open by appointment most days of the week.  She is always excited to talk with art admirers about her work and enjoys creating that unique piece for a special patron or for a particular event.  Please call ahead.  You will enjoy a truly interesting and delightful art experience!

480.488.8833 Studio
480.283.7801 Mobile

Some of our pieces were recently on display at the Art League luncheon her in Desert Moutain.

 Placement of my gourd!

See you on Wednesday for Thanksgiving countdown, 5 blogs to Thanksgiving!! A yummy starter with a surprise garnish!



  1. Are you doing any classes for the Wonky Gourd?

  2. Grateful for you writing this blog.


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