Fine Art GourdsGrowing, Preparing & Creating Art
My work with gourds literally and figuratively begins as a seed. Raising my own gourds as art material is a rewarding, sometimes heartbreaking experience. Each gourd to survive the seeming whims of mother nature, will find its way into my heart and imagination as well as my studio.
An abundance of patience is helpful. Gourds require a long growing season. I start my plants indoors several weeks before the last frost date and harvest the fruits once the stems turn brown in late fall. Once harvested, a year long curing process begins. Gourds need to be completely dried before working with them. Fully matured gourds are about 90% water. Dehydration occurs naturally when evaporation of the interior water comes through to the outer shell.
PREPARING THE GOURDS
Surface mold may form as the gourd dries, often creating beautiful mottled patterns on the gourd shell which are revealed once the mold and dirt are removed. When the gourd is completely dry, I clean the exterior with water and a metal scrub pad.
Once the gourd exterior is cleaned and completely dry, the interior can be cleaned by scraping out the mass of pulp and seeds. I will then finish cleaning the interior by sanding and finally sealing it with a protective coating.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Each project begins with an idea and a feeling. I may start working on a gourd only knowing whether it will be a functional piece or a sculptural piece. Other times, I may have a fully formed concept that may or may not change during the process of creating. As I begin laying out my design, I am guided by the gourd itself. It sounds corny, I know, but the most fulfilling moments come when I get out of my head and let the gourd speak to me.
Inspiration and problem solving may come when I least expect it, sometimes during a walk in nature or upon awakening. It may come as I experiment with a new type of paint or clay or when discovering a different carving technique or by introducing wire and other materials. The versatility and inherent beauty of the gourd guide my artistic voice.