artists, growtips, info & more

Note: If using Outlook click the above bar where it says “Click to download photos” The photos are the best part!

It is Christmas. Many people, myself included, get rather nostalgic at this time of year. There is nothing nicer than sitting by the fire, the room glowing with twinkling Christmas lights, remembering Christmas past and dreaming about the future.


Christmas is a time for traditions that are passed along from generation to generation. I love the Danish Christmas where there are real candles on the tree.

I get a thrill, when in Barbados, to hear Christmas carols wafting from the shops. And although I am not Catholic I must admit I almost always attend Midnight Mass. I just love the incense and the ceremony. To learn more about how Christmas is celebrated around the world click here or click here.


Santa Grouping – To see more click here.

In this Issue we are going to travel to Utah to participate in the 5th Annual Castle Valley Gourd Festival. As well we will stop in Mexico where the Huichol Indians portray their culture and beliefs through their exquisite and detailed beadwork. This includes instructions on how you too can make a beaded gourd. To get into the Christmas spirit our Featured Artist France Benoit will teach us how to create a gourd Santa. As well a year end grow report and oh yes, I wonder how those green peeled gourds are doing!

Monthly Specials at Northern Dipper

For the art lover & home craft person here are some gift ideas!

1.) NEW! A sample box with 12 gourds in all!Kettle, Dipper, Wartie, Apple, Swan, Tobacco Box and Minis will please any gourd lover. Not cleaned, sorry no substitutes. Full Value - $48.00 A great gift for $34.95 For more info click here


2.) For the music lovers on your Christmas list “Making Gourd Musical Instruments” by Ginger Summit & Jim Widess.  A beautiful coffee table - reference book presenting over 60 string, wind & percussion instruments & how to play them. Reg Price - $26.95  Sale Price - $21.95 Sale in Effect Dec 1 – 30. Must be shipped in the month of December. For details click here.


3.)25% savings on Kettle Gourds over 9” diameter. Perfect for France Benoit’s Santa Tutorial (following)or for that matter an ideal gourd to make gourd drums. Consider the above mentioned book and a Kettle gourd for an extra nice gourdly Christmas! Sale in Effect Dec 1 – 30. For more info click here.


4.) Water Drums are now Available. Set of 3 plus 2 sticks - $25.00  For more info click here

Welcome to the 5th Annual Castle Valley Gourd Festival - A Report by Darienne




It was autumn, the leaves were falling, and once again the McAuley gang were off on their annual Gourdessey.  Number Five to be exact.  First to the Ohio Gourd Show in Mt. Gilead, oldest gourd festival in North America. Here Ed spent about 2 hours buying gourds. Alas, there were few Cannonballs to be bought, and they were for the most part small and light. No Tobacco Boxes either. However the Canteens were nice and thick. Chloe and Morgan (our well-travelled pups) and I just hung around a lot...


The best part of Mt Gilead was seeing old gourding friends. No Funnel Cake for me this year however.  The Funnel Cake folks did not show and all my

deliberations over whether or not to indulge were for naught.


Four more days on the road. I-70 from Denver west through the Rockies and into Utah was as always spectacular. We beat the first terrible storm of the year by 6 hours. And the River Road from I-70 into Moab, wondrous as ever. And we were in Moab, wonderful Moab of the red rocks, my home away from home.  Have I mentioned that I like Moab????  



Whatever else good or bad transpires in Moab, the red rocks remain the same.  Breathtaking beautiful.  The sun is hot, the huge sky is an amazing blue and the snow-capped Manti-La Sals are always visible. 


Moab, town of many so gourd artists.  If you want to sell your gourds; pick a place where gourds are already on sale!  More gourds means that gourds are an accepted art form and that yours will sell too!


Had wonderful Mexican food with old gourding friends Cris and Bob on day 1 in Moab and saw their respective latest works.  Ed and I were each given a 4x4" gourd square and pressed into the 2005 CVGF (Castle Valley Gourd Fest) special wall hanging project.  We both did turtles with turquoises embedded in them.  Ed’s was burned and mine was coiled.


A Few of Singing Dog Studio's (Ed & Darienne McAuley) Designs

GourdFest took place on the most perfect of all days: clear, no wind and not too hot.  And it’s so wonderful not to be in a position of responsibility.  Love it after years of that weight!!! The tractor parade was - well, a tractor parade. The kids love it. The gourdess of the event was suitably - if implausibly - arrayed. The hit of the day was the giant gourd figure (see photo), a feat of gourds, glue, bolts, and who knows what?  The food was great, featuring a chili cook-off.  There is much to be said for a small community-oriented event.


Ozark Country Creations, a huge Missouri gourd farm near Joplin, was a homebound stop for us and Ed poked around in the remains of last year’s crop for some goodies. Dennis, Becky and daughter Emily have become friends over the years and we have watched Emily grow from a young girl into an accomplished young lady.


One more small item to relate. Our re-entry into Canada started with a scare and a laugh. The border guard asked if we had any stuffed animals. My heart leapt into my throat. We did have stuffed animals....7 or 8...our dogs play with them. What had I missed about the prohibition of toy animals...some forbidden stuffing?  Stop!  Think!  Idiot!  Of course, she meant dead beasts which had treated by a taxidermist. 


Thank you very much Darienne for contributing this article. To view Ed & Darienne’s Picture Trail click here.

To see more on the Castle Valley Gourd Fest in Utah click here or click here

France Benoit – Artist , Painter & A Promoter of Gourds & Gourd Art

Quebec artist France Benoit loves gourds! She not only loves transforming them but also promoting them. France is presently toying with the idea of organizing a Gourd Fest in Quebec. (For those of you not familiar with Canada, Quebec is primarily a French speaking province. Many people however are bilingual like France. Lucky her to know 2 languages.) Following is an interview with France Benoit.


1.) How long have you been working with gourds? Have you always dabbled in things that are creative or did you just discover this about yourself in the past few years?"

I discovered oil painting 5 years ago. When my son was born, I had a big urge to create. Being a computer technician for 10 years and a secretary before that, the creative side was completely shut down for a long time. Or rather it was a different type of creatively.

2.) Do you find that the French people are very receptive to gourd art? It has been my experience that the French get very excited about art, fashion and style.
It's been said that Quebec has the most artists per capita then the rest of the country. Everyone has a hobby or side job that is creative. Musician, photographer, painter - Very popular here. So yes, I think we are. And yes there is a very good feeling towards gourds.

3.) You  paint.  Do you also wood burn and carve? Do you try to incorporate other mediums in your art such as leather, etc?"

I use leather and feathers and I wood burn. I have tried to carve but I don't feel at ease when doing it. I think I need a workshop on this. Also my Dremel is battery powered so it's doesn't have enough power to power carve. I have bought good gouges and I want to learn how to work with them. I like experimenting with different things and I use Gilders Paste now more often than anything else.
4.) You are working hard at possibly organizing a Gourd Fest in Quebec. You are also involved in some shows and galleries. What else are you up to?
Unfortunately, I don't have much news about it. There is a strong will to do a Gourd Fest near Joliette. But at this point in time it is only a thought. I would like to do some teaching in the new year. There is much interest in what I am doing as there are not too many people in Quebec or in Canada for that matter who have workshops on gourds.

Upcoming Shows

La Maison des arts de Sainte-Thérèse from November 23th to December 11th
2005. Located at 37 Blainville Ouest, Ste-Thérèse.

Montagn'art in St-Hypolite from November 25th to November 27th 2005.
Located at la Maison de la culture of St-Hypolite.

Salon des métiers d'art de St-Eustache from December 9th to December 11th
2005. Direction & updated schedules are on my website at

Tutorial: Santa (with Gilders Paste) by France Benoit

What You Will Need:

Woodburner (optional)
Kettle gourd
Mineral spirit or other type of solvent
Soft shoe brush
Your fingers
A fine paint brush
Scott towel


If the gourd doesn't sit well:

Wood filler


Gilders Paste: Colors -
Iris Blue
Coral Red or Apricot
Rich Gold

If the gourd doesn't sit too well, you can drill a hole at the bottom and put sand in it through a funnel. You close the hole with a wood filler product.

Gilders Paste is easy to clean from the fingers with hot water and soap.

1.) Draw the design of the Santa on the gourd. You can woodburn the facial features (eyes nose, mouth and facial lines) and
also burn the round of the hat, arm, the paper list and stars. Take off the pencil lines with alcohol after you finish burning. If you do not have a wood burner you can paint the features with the Sandalwood Gilders Paste.

2.) Apply the first coat of Iris Blue to the body and hat. I use my fingers and go in a circular motion because it's nicer to have a blended look to it. The circular motion is important or else you'll end up with lines and that's not the effect we want for this. Leave the beard, face and paper list blank for the moment. Let it dry for 12 hours and buff with a soft shoe brush.


3.) Put on a second coat. Be careful – do not rub too hard as it will take off the first coat. Go gently and let it dry again, buff with the shoe brush.

4.) Line the arms, the stars and under the fur with Black. Put Rich Gold on the mitts and stars. If the gourd has a stem, you can put Rich Gold on it too.

5.) Apply a first coat of Patina on the hat rim, arm's fur (cuffs), front fur and the middle of the arms with your finger or a Q-tip. Let dry.

6.) For the skin: You can use Apricot or put a grain of Coral Red on a very small amount of White until you have a skin-like color. Thin the color to a liquid with a little Mineral Spirits and apply to the face with your finger in a circular movement until it has a uniform color.  The color of the gourd will help to get an interesting skin tone. Note: Don't use too much paste. You need very little to do the face.

7.) For the beard, moustache, hair: Mix a little Sandalwood and a bit of White. Apply the first coat  with a Q-tip making a flowing hair movement. You can now let that all dry and brush with your soft shoe brush
12 hours later.

8.) Put White on the fur around the hat, cuffs and front. You can dabble it with Q-tips and spread a bit with your finger. Make hairs with a small brush. Don't put too much solvent on the Q-tip or you will lose the background color.

9.) Apply Coral Red to the lips and Sandalwood in the mouth. Add Sandalwood to the eyebrows and eyes after the skin is done. Put Black in the middle of the eye with the small brush.

10.) Put a first coat of White to do the beard. Put a second if you feel there is not enough hair volume. You can also put a bit of Sandalwood in your White to contrast.

11.) Color the paper list White with a downward movement to it. You can then add a bit of Sandalwood and make shades in the paper.

12.) Put a darker shade of Coral Red on the cheeks and pure Coral Red near the beard. You have to blend the color with your finger very delicately. Do the same with nose and eyes.

13.) Burn the facial lines you did first with the wood burner (or use the Sandalwood Gilders Paste). Set your burner on a low temperature.

14.) Put brown for the eyes and darken the edge with liquid black. It has to remain pale around the iris. Put little tiny dots of gold at the bottom of the eyes. Not too much. Put a touch of dirty white in the iris.

15.) Burn or outline the paper list again. Let dry and brush.

Joyeux Noel & Bonne Annee!

France Benoit

Check out France’s website for some great gourd art and paintings. Click here.

Gourd Growing In December

 First Snow

This is the last grow report of the year. It is hard to believe that in such a short time we have planted our seeds, babied our seedlings, watched them grow, pruned, pollinated, cheered over every gourd that grew, harvested and now here we are. It is time to go through the gourds that you have harvested to check to make sure that they are not rotting. If they are dripping, soft or turning a dark porous looking brown get rid of them. They are not mature and will not dry. Go out again in a couple of weeks and check again. What is left should dry quite nicely.  After harvest clean up all your vines and burn if possible. They may contain insects or disease.


At Northern Dipper…

The field is cleaned up and ready for next year. We have had one snowfall but today it is 13C/55.4F with rain so the snow is quickly disappearing. We are crossing our fingers that we have a very mild short winter. In December we will be getting ready for the Spring Shows and then there is Christmas! And onward we march….


To see photos of growing gourdsclick here.


A lovely house-warming gift. To see more click here.

Green Peeling: It’s A Chancy Business! 


Oct - Freshly peeled gourds. The one on the left was questionable as it was brown around the top around the stem.

Nov - As the month progressed the brown around the top got soft. The past week proved that this gourd won’t make it. It is starting to cave in as you can see. 

This is what they should look like – the mold will appear primarily on the area that has not been green-peeled. Wipe down with a mild solution of water and bleach.

Huichol Indian Beaded Gourds


Close – Up of this Exquisite and Detailed Beadwork To view more click here

The Huichol Indians in Mexico have maintained their traditional ways preserving their unique culture, religion and art. Huichol art portrays deep religious beliefs that each Huichol acquires through stories, ceremonies and rites.

Common designs are plants, flowers, geometrical shapes, snowflakes and animals.

How to create a beaded gourd yourself:

  1. Melt bees wax in a steel pot and let it cool to the touch. You want it warm so it can be handled and spread onto your gourd.
  2. Using a small putty knife, spread a thin layer on part of the gourd you want to place your design.
  3. Take a pair of small needle nose tweezers and starting in the center of the gourd, place your beads. Lightly press the beads into the wax, you want the wax to come up into the bead hole. If the wax starts to harden before you get your design done put is in your oven on a low temperature to warm the wax up again.
  4. Leave it for a few days to harden. Spray with a shiny gloss finish after it is dried to secure the beads and to give it a nice finish.

To learn more about these fascinating people and their art click here or click here or here.

These natural colored snowmen are charming. To see more click here.


Organic Apples in the Northern Dipper Orchard


It will be January and we are already thinking about Spring and seeds. We will have an article on seed selection and a “Myth Buster” report from Amanda Davidson who has proved, for the past 8 years, that you can grow gourds in Saskatchwan! In addition you are going to meet Claudette Hart, “The Gourd Lady of Merrickville.”  Claudette is an incredible artist, a “sorceress with a burning wand”, who just happens to have a very large audience. Claudette will be sharing some of her art with us as well as the practical and useful topic - “How To Build A Spray Booth”  As well gourd sightings, trivia and more. Until then have a Peaceful Christmas, see you in the New Year….Pam Grossi & Peter Bell


Back issues of our newsletter Gourd Fever are on our Website. (Sorry no photos) If you have missed any issues there are some interesting tutorials and grow information you may want to check out.


PS If you have any stories or ideas that you would like to contribute to this newsletter please send to


Volume 1, Number 10 


In this issue

Christmas Ideas from 

Northern Dipper That Save You Money!


A Report on the 5th Annual Castle Valley Gourd Festival


Tutorial: Gourd Santa by Featured Artist France Benoit


Gourd Growing In December


Green Peeling - A Progress Report!


Huichol Indian Beaded Gourds - A Simple How-To Guide


Gourd Sightings & Trivia

Gourd Nativity Scene from Peru. Click here for a fascinating site on Nativity Scenes.

"Little Cutie" Gourd Snowman. To view more seasonal gourds click here 

Dar Beck designed this unique wreath. Click here to see more of Dar's art & instructions on how to make this "Story Teller Wreath"

10’ Tall Gourd Figure Overseeing the Castle Valley Gourd Fest

Sampling of Display Gourds

This amazing gourd is the work of Ed & Darienne McAuley. Note how the design on the body of the gourd is duplicated in the coiling at the top. This gourd was featured on a Castle Valley Gourd Fest postcard.

Ed Working Under The Red Rocks

"Spirit Portals"


"Tribal Group"

"Gourd Purse"

The Above 3 Photos Are Ed & Darienne McAuley’s (Singing Dog Studios) work. Their pieces have won many Awards and Ribbons. You can find their art in Galleries throughout Canada and the US.

Gourd Clock by France Benoit


Painted Lady



"Serente Familiale"


Red Dragon Skin Vase

The above 4 photos are the works of France Benoit.



Santa with Gilders Paste by Quebec Artist France Benoit 


Sketch Santa Design on Gourd Using Pencil

(Close - up of Sketch)


Use circular motions when applying Gilders Paste


Use a Q-Tip for the details

Apply White and Sandalwood

for beard


It is difficult to see but the shell of these gourds are pitted and soft to the touch.

Burning the dead vines.


 Gilded Ornaments For instructions on how to do this technique click here

 Santa Lamp with Light Bulb (Please hesitate before using a candle in a gourd!) To see more click here.

Gourd sightings and trivia Astrid, our 5 -year old film critic, just loved the movie “Because of Winn Dixie” It is a story about how a dog and a little girl can change and enrich the lives of the people around them. Astrid spotted all the gourds which were hanging from the trees. For more info click here.

From Singing Dog Studio’s Gourd Collection

“Ruelle de Probence” Painting by France Benoit. To see more paintings and gourd art click here.

 Simplicity In Nature

Published by Northern Dipper Enterprises

Northern Dipper Farm
1666 Villa Nova Road
RR1 Wilsonville, Ontario
N0E 1Z0 Canada
(519) 443-5638