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Decorating Gourds

 Gourd transformation

Raw Bushel Gourd

Now that you have several raw gourds, what are you going to do with them? That's the problem I faced when I harvested and dried my first crop and found myself with about 200 bottle gourds and no clear idea of what I was going to do with them. I had never seen a decorated gourd other than maybe a painted birdhouse and had no idea that there are hundreds of talented people making works of art from gourds.

I decided to try my hand at woodburning some designs on gourds and I must confess that, at that time, I thought I was the first person to try that.Talk about naive.

 To paint or not to paint

All of the art work I do is done with a woodburner. I enhance the designs with various shades of leather dye and occasionally add some pine needles to the rim of a pot or bowl. I finish off the exterior with paste finishing wax.

This particular bowl design is a stylized depiction of our very old friend Kokopelli. This bowl blew off of a table at an outdoor gourd show a couple of years ago and broke into a dozen pieces. I glued it back together and refinished it, but, I guess, it'll be mine forever.

Pine needles on Kokopelli bowl


Quite a few of my early gourd projects were Mbiri, or Thumb Pianos. The one to the right is from a bottle gourd. The top is 1/8 inch plywood and the "keys" are from the tines of a leaf rake. It works fine, but I have no idea what scale they are tuned to by the African natives.


African thumb piano created from bottle gourd and metal tines
 Petroglyphs & Pictographs  

A large portion of the art work I do is the depiction of scenes and characters from the numerous panels of rock art left in this area by the ancient Anasazi people. I often photograrh these petroglyphs and pictographs so I can draw them on a gourd as accurately as possible.

The figure on the pot shown is called, "Moab Man". It is on a rock art panel just a sliced tee shot away from the Moab Golf Course.



Moab Man with painted border
 Gourd creations  

In the beginning, I created many musical instruments, including drums, rattles, and thumb pianos. I even made a ukulele. It looks great, but needs some more work in the tone area. Though I took great delight in turning these gourds into musical instruments, I haven't sold many of these items. The drums have a goatskin head.

Some of my favorite creations are various sizes of ornate dippers and ladles from dipper gourds.

Drum and drumstick

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Pine needles coiling on top Very large bushel gourd with lizards Large bushel gourd, cookie jar lid
Small vase with two spiral flowers Castle Valley 2003 Commemorative Vase Hummingbird and flower
Popular design, leather-look Large Bushel Gourd with pictographs from Horseshoe Canyon Large Bushel Gourd with removable lid
Petroglyph from the Moab Panel with red leather dye Narrow Bottle Gourd with lovely natural designs Drum, covered with goat hide and edged with sisal rope

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