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


Reggie Eakin's Maasai Bride


In This Issue: Reggie Eakin, owner of Southern Gourds, is a man who is admired by all those who meet him. Reggie not only does incredible work, he teaches and is an advocate for both gourd art and the artist. He has a deep respect for the role that gourds have played throughout history evolving from an object of utility to an object of great beauty.

In short Reggie Eakin lives and breathes gourds. From his award-winning art to his outstanding online newsletter Reggie is a personality and we are thrilled to have him as our featured artist in this November issue of Gourd Fever.


                      Cowboy by Reggie Eakin
Ken Carlson is here with the second to last installment of his series of essays. This month Ken explains how he planted gourds this year but basically took the year off and left it to Mother Nature to weave her magic. The end result was wonderful much to Ken's surprise.
Questions abound in The Gourd Jungle - Tips For The Home Gourd Gardener. The growing season in many places is officially over but people still have inquiries regarding things such as saving seeds and green-peeling. 
Gourd Fever wouldn't be complete without our trivia and gourd sighting section. Gourd sightings pop up everywhere in the fall; even a trip to the local grocery store can turn into an adventure for gourd buffs such as us.
Now on to the main event...please welcome Reggie Eakin. 


Reggie Eakin: Promoting The Prosperity And Preservation Of Gourd Art

Reggie Eakin, a native of Savannah, Georgia, is stricken with 'gourditis.' Reggie's fifteen year affliction is defined as an addictive, compulsive disorder; symptoms include the need to touch, own or craft members of the Cucurbitaceae family. Everyone from his small town knows this about Reggie along with the three gourd farms within driving range. It was confirmed a few years ago when all the members of his choir received painted Christmas gourds as gifts.

His wife, a teacher, has encouraged him along the way with "Reggie" projects. One year she wanted a large gourd Easter bunny for her 3rd grade classroom. She had seen a wood-burned design and thought that Reggie could make it for her. He pulled out his old wood-burning tool from his Boy Scout didn't turn out well. 

A few days later he saw an advertisement for the Gourd Retreat Southern Style that was being held near Savannah. When he entered the classroom building he could not believe the scene before his eyes, So much gourd art - Reggie  ended up attending every class.

He made the rabbit for Janet and hasn't stopped making gourd art since. He states that every gourd has different possibilities. Some he knows immediately what they can become and others he keeps because they are interesting.

Like many artists Reggie comes from a family where art and crafts were a part of everyday life. His father painted and carved (whittled), his sister drew and painted, the brother was a master wood worker and his mother quilted and crocheted. There were always numerous projects on the go in Reggie's house.
Reggie himself has taken no formal art classes but has taken many non-credit courses at the local University. He has painted in acrylics (he claims that he is a terrible painter and a brush turns into the Tasmanian Devil once in his hands), has drawn in pastels and still draws in ink. He is an avid photographer and he sculpts in clay. Gourd art allows him to combine all of these skills making each gourd a new adventure.

Reggie's own approach to design is that he sees everything in a frame with an orderly perspective. First he draws the idea and then he'll draw the gourd shape around the subject idea. Once he has
a firm design he scans the drawing into his laptop where he uses an Adobe program to remove eraser lines and make changes. If he is planning for a class project he simplifies the design.

For Reggie his career in teaching began at his local gourd patch, then at the Georgia Gourd Education Days. He moved on to the State Gourd Festivals and Gatherings and has, throughout the years, watched the level of participation drop. He says that many people believe the drop in attendance is the result of the economy or the maturation of the art form and its organizations but Reggie believes it is more than that.

He states that the onslaught of the rubber stamp culture of plastic and computerization has dazzled youth and adults alike. He  has observed that everywhere we visit we see Wal-Mart type shopping mall architecture crowding out the local cultures and surroundings. Gourd enthusiasts from Africa to China to the Americas are struggling to maintain the husbandry, use and art of gourds.

Reggie continues by saying that the Arizona Gourd newsletter and the Gourd Fever newsletter allows us (gourd people) to become part of a larger community/family. Travel and venue rental costs have increased limiting many the ability to physically participate so the newsletters are a binding source.

He liked what Bonnie Gibson and Northern Dipper were doing and saw a niche where his writing and ideas could fit. He started a website and a monthly gourd newsletter and is happy to say that others are using his published gourd history for lectures and his gourd techniques for teaching.

He finishes by saying "We need to offer free access to our ideas and art in order to draw in others and cause gourd preservation and art to prosper."

When asked about his personal life Reggie smiles and tells the story of how he and his wife Janet grew up in the same neighbourhood in Savannah, Georgia. They attended the same schools and church. He hadn't paid much attention to her and then one day - WOW! It took quite some time to convince her that he was the one and this month they are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Reggie is quick to say that Janet is the most attractive and intelligent person he knows. They have two daughters and six grandchildren ranging from 3 years to 22 years.

Reggie and his wife retired 3 years ago although Janet still teaches part-time in the spring and the fall. They use their extra money, earned from teaching, to take cruises. They are still very active in the life of the Georgia Southern University, (where Reggie, Janet and their daughters graduated) and follow the University's sports teams, music, theatre and art events. 

To view Reggie's webpage and excellent online newsletter click here:

Ken Carlson: Mother Knows Best!
To those of you that don't know me I really like gourds. I have a passion for the extra-long handled dipper gourds but I also love the really big gourds. If my gourds were kids they would be fat, lazy and very spoiled. I tend to over-water, over-feed, over-spray, pretty much over everything. This year was different; Mother Nature presented me with a couple of opportunities to learn something about gourds.

The last few years my large gourds were less than stellar. This year I was able to extend my growing season by germinating my seeds and then having them planted in pots at a local nursery on April 1st. I picked them up in mid-May and they were full, large healthy plants.

I think Mother Nature must have wanted to teach me a lesson about extending my growing season because from May 15 to June 15 we had only one warm day. With rain or drizzle almost every night and cool temperatures I had almost no growth or pollination take place.

By late June our temperature and rainfall returned to normal and by mid-July my gourd plants were  full but still with not much spread. I can remember it was July 20th when I walked through the large gourds and counted 20 gourds starting.
I realized that it was the first time I had walked through the gourds at all this year. I had not watered and strangely, there were no weeds(Too cool for even weeds to germinate?) I had only 2 months left before the first frost and I decided that there just wasn't enough time for the gourds to mature. I put the tiller on the tractor and started tilling them under.

All the smaller gourds went and next the snake gourds. As my tractor tires sat over the large gourd plants I hesitated. I decided I wouldn't till those 20 large gourds under and at the same time decided I wouldn't waste any time on them either.

Then August hit. Mother Nature wanted to teach me something else. August was the hottest and driest in South Dakota's recorded history. Still I had decided to leave the gourd plants alone even though they grew 5 feet from the water spigot. I walked by these plants everyday and each day of the hot and dry weather they seemed to look better and better.

With September came normal temperatures and rain, and one more surprise from the great one - no frost at night. Our area did not get its first frost until October 11th.

So now here I am thinking about how I went through my 1st season without watering, weeding or feeding my large gourds. In my opinion I had thought that Mother Nature gave them too much water in the spring and then left them too cold. She threw too much hot and dry at them in August and left them almost 30 days too long on the vine before the first frost in the fall. As it turned out however I just ended my best year ever raising large gourds. (I have over 20 gourds in the 46 - 50 inch around size)

Is Mother Nature trying to tell me something? Let me just say that I like growing large gourds, but after this year I must openly admit that maybe I don't know quite as much as I thought I did!                                                             Ken

Out Of The Mailbag
Jeanne Morningstar Kent was our featured artist in Volume 6 - Issue 64. In a recent press release Morningstar, a Winchester artist and resident, announced that she has had three gourd pieces selected to be included in a special exhibit "Celebrating Six Years of NEFA's Native Arts Program", at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Ledyard, Ct. The show will run from October 5, 2013 to January 4, 2014.
She was also awarded a 2012 New England Native Arts (NEFA) grant which helped her research her book: "The Visual Language of Wabanaki Art" which is due for release by History Press in 2014. NEFA is partially funded by the Ford Foundation and the Native Arts and Culture Foundation as well as anonymous donors.
Morningstar recently became a member of the Native Advisory Board at the Institute for Native American Studies in Washington, Connecticut where one of her pieces is on permanent display. She serves on the Abenaki Arts Council that is establishing a web page as a resource for Abenaki Tribal artists. She is also an enrolled member of the Nulhegan Band, Coosuk Abenaki of Vermont and is considered a respected Tribal Artist.
Morningstar is listed in the Vermont Teacher's Manual as a resource for speaking engagements and a work shop presenter. She has presented many talks and workshops in Connecticut at museums and colleges. 
For more information about Morningstar, her current schedule of appearances and her art click here:
Thank you Morningstar for sending this our way. Congratulations on your upcoming book release and your exhibits. Carolyn and Linda

"Other Stuff" 

Celebrating "The Humans of New York"
Brandon Stanton, 29, originally from Marietta, GA, has a blog following of over two million people. Titled "Humans of New York", otherwise known as HONY, Stanton has put together a collection of portraits of everyday people who happen to live in New York. 

The photographs are spontaneous, touching and poignant. Along with the photographs are captions which reveal stories otherwise not heard. No names are given.

As soon as his photos are posted the response from the public is overwhelming. One such viewer wrote "HONY. Restoring my faith in humanity, one photo-story at a time." 
Brandon Stanton is now putting out a book "Humans of New York" which will be released from St. Martin's Press this month.
Check out Brandon's blog at:

Looking Ahead: December 2013

                       The Last of the Summer Blooms
Karen Ann Hundt-Brown, owner of The Curious Outlook, is our featured artist next month and she has a big goal. It is her dream to see a gourd in every home by 2024. The steps she is taking to see this dream come true are creating waves in the gourd art world.
Firstly Karen produces art that people must have. Many of her lamps light up the darkness of the evening and her bowls and vessels are finely wood-burned and embellished. Karen's teaching schedule is heavy and along with that are the classes she takes in order to remain fresh.
A self-confessed competition junkie Karen learned a long time ago that it is the detail that separates an entry from a hum-drum piece to an award-winner. Karen is pure delight and it is going to be a lot fun to have her as our featured artist in the December issue of Gourd Fever.  
Alas it will be the last appearance of Ken Carlson our illustrious essayist. In this final article of 2013 he will be asking whether you are willing to go that EXTRA  mile for your gourds. Ken's good friend offers some solid advice but it is questionable on whether Ken is prepared to take it. Tune in next month and you can decide for yourself whether you would.
Sitting here it is hard to believe that December is right around the corner. We are gearing up for our Christmas shows which are always busy and exciting. We hope to see some of you and if not have a brilliant November...we'll meet again next month.
                        Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond   

PS We love your stories, photos and comments - send them in: 































Volume 9, Number 104 


In this issue:
Reggie Eakin: Promoting The Prosperity and
Preservation Of Gourd Art
The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper
Ken Carlson: Mother Knows Best!

The Gourd Jungle: Tips For The Home Gardener

Out Of The Mailbag,
Gourd Sightings & Trivia

The Bulletin Board

Christmas Shows

Sugar Plum Show
Nov. 9 - 10
Nottawasga Inn
6015 Hwy 89
Alliston, Ontario

Home For The Holiday
Nov. 15 - 17
Markham Fairgrounds
Markham, Ontario

One Of a Kind Toronto
 Nov. 28 - Dec. 8
Direct Energy Centre
Exhibition Place
Toronto, Ontario

Dec. 13 - 22
Ottawa CE Centre
4899 Upland Drive,
Ottawa, Ontario
Due to our Christmas show schedule the last shipping day at Northern Dipper will be November 22.
The last drop-in day for anything other than gourds is also November 22.

 Reggie Eakin
"We need to offer free
access to our ideas and art
 in order to draw in others
and cause gourd preservation
and art to prosper."
"Since becoming interested
 in gourds, I've studied their history and uses. Each
culture over the past 8,000 years has used gourds in different ways. It is a journey from utility to art."
"I like to tell a story in my gourd art. Often it is only a moment in time. I want the story to be told as authentically as possible including cultural details
in my renderings."
"It is important that our art evolves. My first show pieces used only one technique. As
 I became comfortable with new products and techniques, I combined them."
"I am spending more of my time doing deep relief carving. Currently I'm in the process
of completing a gourd for our Texas grandson Christian
 and his horse Dreamer."
"It features Faux leather tooling, a leather braided
rim, two pyrography portraits of Dreamer and Christian
as well as two panels of cowboy dreams."
Words Of Advice For New Artists
"Learn the technique. Take your time to create well executed art. I often tell
my classes that there isn't
a prize for finishing first."
"Buy a really good example
of the technique to use
as a reference for comparision. Find classes
 that allow you to try out
tools and supplies before
you invest a lot of money.
Do not get discouraged -
your first piece is not going
 to be museum quality.
Keep learning."
"I think about the future and am afraid that the
 importance of art and
music is diminishing."
"Our high school aged  grandchildren in Texas and Georgia must take summer courses or after school classes to study art and music. The government's required subjects do not include either art form."
"I'm thrilled that our daughters and two of our grandchildren see enough value in art and music to go spend the extra time to study these subjects." 
"My music and artist friends must work multiple jobs to pay living expenses and still practice the vocation that they love. You must be an exceptional artist to pay your bills. I made both art and music a vocation but we encouraged our daughters to choose a business career." 
"I've been told that I would settle on one style and technique in my gourd art. That has not been true. When a new style, technique or product is introduced, I try to enroll in a class. There you can sample the product or technique without investing a lot of time or money."
"The  teacher gives you their experience on which to build your knowledge. You quickly learn what works and what doesn't and what you like and  don't like. For example I love pine needle coiling with sinew - but not with raffia."
"I'm going to continue competing, teaching and writing about gourds. I hope
 to find a location and a philanthropist to establish
a Gourd Fine Art competition and rotating display in the Southeast USA."

 The Gourd Jungle: Tips For The Home Gardener
Hello Carolyn and Linda,
I don't know if you will remember me but I came to your farm in June and bought a couple of bags of gourds. I recently heard of a process called green-peeling but don't know much about it. Can you tell me if there are any advantages to this?
John Ramsey, Simcoe, Ont.
Hi John,
Nice to hear from you. Green peeling is a process where
 the thin, waxy skin on the outside of the gourd (the epidermis) is scraped off. Using a dull kitchen knife
 with a smooth blade (I use
 a utility knife but am careful) slowly peel off the skin. Be careful not to cut or dig into the gourd. At this
 time of year, just after the harvest, there are lots of green gourds to choose from.
After peeling wash the gourd down with a mixture of water and dish soap. Some people will use water and bleach. If any bits of waxy skin are hard to get off gently use a copper dish scrubbie. Wash down once a week until the gourd has dried.
Green peeling is often used
 by carvers who want a blemish free surface to work with. Artists will also scrape
 designs into the gourd as demonstrated in the above posted photos. In this case
 the scraped surface will be
 a light ivory or pale tan color...the horse will
 dry a darker color.
Hi Carolyn,
I have a question about seeds. Can I take seeds from the gourds that I grew this year? Will they be true seeds?
 Thanks, Shirley Monk-
Dayton, Ohio 
Hi Shirley,
Good question. Many people do take seeds from gourds they have grown. The trick is to get the seeds before they freeze. Frozen green seeds will not germinate.
Re: True seeds - in order to get true seeds you have to hand-pollinate and bag the flower right after pollination. There are growers out there that do sell true seed but they are generally quite expensive. If you want a specific gourd shape then it well worth the money. Carolyn

Hi there,
This year my gourds didn't seem to do too well. They
are small and seem thin-shelled. I planted them
directly into the ground
rather than starting my seeds early. Although I had good germination it seemed as though they were slow to grow. In your opinion should
 I have planted my seeds earlier. 
Pamela Addision, MN  
Hi Pamela,
You hit the nail on the head. The earlier you start your seeds the stronger the plants. Even more importantly it extends the growing season which is good because  gourds need lots of time to mature. If they do not have this time the shells will be thin and the gourds themselves will be small.
Win some, lose some...
we have all had years where we do not have record crops. The nice thing is that spring will get here once again and you will have another chance to grow some prize winners!
Take care, Carolyn 

Gourd Sighting

The other day while at my local grocery store I spotted these mini gourds in a fall bouquet in the floral department. Thought I would send it in for you to enjoy too. 
Harriet Dawson - Ottawa, Ont.

It's A Dog's Life

Funny how our dogs seem to love us so much. Most people think that the things dogs do is purely for food and shelter but neuroscientist Gregory Berns thinks otherwise.

In his book "A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog
Decode the Canine Brain" Berns conducted extensive MRI testing on his pup Callie plus others. He concluded that "Dogs, and probably many other animals, especially our closest
primate relatives, seem to have emotions just like us."

As a long term dog owner
 I know that when my dogs look at me with those
beautiful brown and amber eyes I can't help but agree with Gregory Berns.

To learn more about Gregory Berns click here:

(Taken from the Globe and Mail, October, 2013)

 Music Pick Of The Month

The Artists:

The Songs:
Tinariwen: Live In London
To learn more about Tinariwen click here:

Published by:

Pam Grossi
Victoria, B.C., V8R 2Z7



Northern Dipper
PO Box 1145
5376 County Road 56 
Cookstown, Ontario
L0L 1L0, Canada
(705) 435-3307

© Northern Dipper 2013. All rights reserved. No portion of his newsletter may be used in any form without prior written permission from the authors.














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