Wednesday 23 January 2013

Wonkey Weaving Gourd Basket!

Recently I attended a class to further my education on Gourd Art. It was taught by two very patient, talented and passionate Gourd Art teachers.......

Margaret Sullivan moved to Rio Verde with plans to retire and visit with her three daughters and grandchildren. She wanted to travel and her husband wanted to play golf. However, her life of leisure was disrupted when Margaret stumbled upon a gourd centerpiece at a cocktail party. Fascinated, she borrowed books about gourds and traveled to a gourd farm in southwest Phoenix. Her daughter bought her first bag of gourds for Mother's Day. Thats how her passion started. Now known to be one of the best teachers of Gourd Art in the area. Take a look at her website,

Shelly Fletcher has been working with gourds since 1992. Coming from a 4th generation Arizona farming and ranching, which influenced her choices of artistic materials. Even though her Father, a cotton farmer, viewed gourds as weeds, she found them to be the perfect medium. She likes the earthy and natural appeal of gourds and often leaves much of the beautiful gourd surface showing in her work. You can read more about her on her website, where she sells supplies and materials for "Gourd Art".

Our class tuition included all materials for the project except the beads/stones, which we were told we could purchase outside of class or that would be available during class to purchase from Shelley. I purchased mine in Bellevue, Washington while I was there for the holidays.

We started with a cleaned and cut gourd.

I first used a pencil to measure and mark about 1/2 inch from the brim and 1 inch apart. Then I used an "AWL" to make an indentation into each mark.

I used a drill to drill the holes.
Step 4, we stained our gourds, how we wanted our gourd to look, with leather dye.
This one is mine. Wow! It's RED, what a shock!! I layer gold stain, then red and finished with black, using a spray bottle with alcohol to make the colors run and to thin them out. i then took my gourd outside and wearing a mask, I sprayed several coats of spray sealer.
After counting the number of holes in my gourd, I decided what color round reed I wanted to insert for the spokes.

Well soaked reed spokes were inserted then the weaving commenced. We continually soaked our gourds in big tubs with water and fabric softener, to keep the reed from drying out and breaking. We also used spray bottles to help with this process.

After the reed base is established, we used seagrass, various beads and began to create our vision. This is not a precise art.

Step 9 is to weave the top border, we used a simple rolled border. Step 10 is to fill in with jute or yarn the voids you created.
The "Wonkey" comes from the shape you create by pulling and various other techniques to get the Wonkey shape of the weaving. It is quite pliable when it is wet, so you are able to shape it. Some of the comments I heard while working. "How do I wonk this up?" "Let's get Wonkey now"!
This was a really fun class! I would recommend to anyone coming to the area. Many classes are available. Go to Margaret or Shelly's website and see if there is one to fit your schedule. I have explored many art mediums over the years, but found a lot of them limiting. Gourd Art is natural, organic and versatile.

Here are a few more pictures of our creations.............

Well, did I get you excited to learn more about nature's container?

Here are a few more pictures of gourd projects I did before  Christmas.

I used my Zentangle art on this on....Wee Bears favorite!

My daughter hosted Christmas this year at her beautiful home. She had a brunch in the morning and everyone came to open gifts, then, in the afternoon she had a "White Elephant"gift exchange, followed by a sit down dinner for 10. I made this Santa gourd for my White Elephant gift. It was a huge hit and quickly changed hands three times, ending in my son, TT's hands. :-)))

Back side of Santa gourd.

My friend Fawn was thrilled with her gift, which made me very happy........

 It is bone chilling cold in most the country right now, I am hoping you all stay safe and warm. Here in Scottsdale....well don't hate me.....temperatures are ranging from 70-80F, I am wearing shorts and flip flops again. Winter lasted about one week, enough for me to make some chili and a few other cold weather dishes.

Next up, Amy and I are gearing up for Superbowl with some fun foods to serve at YOUR party. Followed by.... Valentines Day! Last night I set the stage and served Valentines dinner to Wee Bear, he loved it! Said,"Is this our Valentine's dinner? Can I have more sauce?" Followed by, "Mmmmmmm this is so good, Mmmmmmm will you make this for me more often? Mmmmmmmm." He is my favorite and best supporter, just love him! 

Love this Life!


  1. Hi Classmate. Thanks for sending me this e mail. I have found this to be MOST interesting. I visited your blog - and looked through the recipes. I plan to copy and try a few. I have to say this blog business is all something new to me - and I really don't know much about it. I guess I should get in to this century, huh? You know - my father would have found this extremely interesting as well. In his day - back in the 50's, he was a very famous chef and restaurant owner. One of his restaurants was judged as in the top ten restaurants in the U.S. for over 10 years. In those days that was really something. So I was raised in the back end of a kitchen. Many fond memories for me as a child. My father was the inventor of having live lobster in a restaurant. He won an award for that idea. And I recall going with him to the airport every Sunday in order to pick up the little fellows which had just flown from the east coast to Portland, Oregon. He and I would then go back to the restaurant - take them out of the boxes and have Lobster races in the back kitchen. Too funny. Then we would put them in a huge tank. He also inventented the Monti Cristo Sandwich - another award winner for him. Although I have to say, most restaurants don't make them correctly now adays. I'm sorry we didn't have a chance to speak the other day in class - I would have really enjoyed it. AND I also see we have another thing in common - our love for our little Jacks. Yours are adorable. I raised and showed them for many years - and now have just two little girls left. Wonderful little lovers aren't they. Well - all the best Joan - and I'll keep my eyes open for your blog. Hopefully we will meet up again in another gourd class -

  2. Nice work, Joan - Thanks for the write up!! If you get down to the Gourd Festival in Casa Grande, come find Shelley and myself. Margaret


    1. Hi! The spokes are fed through a drilled hole and taped. Thanks for commenting! Cheers! JJ


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