|Note: If using Outlook click the above bar where it says "Click to download photos."
Karen Brown's White Oak Gourd Lamp
In This Issue:
Michigan artist Karen Ann Hundt-Brown, owner of Curious Outlook, has a lengthy resume filled with accomplishments. Artist and teacher she is well known among gourd enthusiasts. In 2013 Karen
attended the Canadian Gourd Festival and it was fun to hang out with such a dynamic woman. Humorous, knowledgable and an extrovert, Karen is a natural advocate for gourd art. Please welcome Karen to these December pages of Gourd Fever.
First Place Winner by Karen Ann Hundt- Brown
We have Ken Carlson waiting in the wings with his last essay of the year. This month we find him mulling over the advice of his neighbour...well meaning, but Ken isn't quite certain whether he has the stomach for it. Read on and you will soon understand the dilemma Ken finds himself in.
Also our trivia and other interesting things but first up, Karen Ann Hundt-Brown.
Karen Ann Hundt-Brown: A Gourd In Every Home
Four Rose Bowl
A few years ago Karen Ann Hundt-Brown, owner of Curious Outlook, celebrated her birthday by attending the Ohio Gourd Show. It brought back flashbacks of her days in the 4-H club and gave her hundreds of ideas as to what she could do with the 50 gourds she had grown in her garden.
Once back home her competitive nature took over and she produced 22 gourds to enter in a local show. She walked away with 11 ribbons and from that moment onward she didn't look back. Karen was thrilled that she could combine the skills she had learned while attending the Kendall School of Art and Design in the 70's as well as the skills she had picked up during a lifetime of art involvement. In her mind gourds were the perfect medium which provided a pathway for creativity and imagination.
Art is a passion for Karen and therefore she only creates art which makes her happy. She does not do much commission work as she works from her heart. She states "Art is my therapy and my pleasure. My muse shows me pictures of finished products in dreams" and she doesn't care how she gets there, just that she gets there in the end.
Beauty inspires Karen as does nature. Her camera travels with her on a daily basis and photos of trees, leaves, beautiful homes and animals are used as reference points for her art. Over the years she has become a competitive "junkie" and was quick to acknowledge that it is the details that separates first place from best in show. When she doesn't win it just makes her pushes her to do better next time.
Many of the techniques that Karen uses in her art are drawn from her past childhood experiences in 4-H. The fact that she loves crafts is a driving force as well. She is a curious person and as a teacher she knows that it is important to take lots of classes herself in order to stay fresh and to learn about new techniques and products.
Carved Maple Leaf Pin
Karen has been teaching for the past 10 years and absolutely loves it. She also currently has art in three galleries in Michigan and one in Ohio. She believes that the public awareness of gourd art is the responsibility of the individual artist. She continues that it is sometimes an uphill battle as people do not know enough about gourds to know their long history in human civilization.
Her philosophy is be your own best advertising; carry a gourd purse, wear gourd jewelry or carry your projects with you and work on them. Karen does all of these and has made many new friends and met new students because of the gourd projects she is always talking about or working on.
In thinking about the artist and the role that art plays in society Karen states" Artists are the last bastions of a civilized society. With the arts programs leaving our schools yearly, it becomes more important than ever to have artists who are also teachers in whatever medium they perform in."
Karen lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband and her "four-legged children." She also has two step-children and has been blessed with a wonderful grandson. She enjoys gardening in the summer and canning and preserving in the fall. She grows at least 2 types of gourds every year but it is never enough to keep her supplied for her numerous classes.
Ken Carlson: Going That Extra Mile!
Are you willing to go that EXTRA mile for your gourds?
Each fall I look back and admit to myself that I could have made just a little more effort. I could have gotten up at 5:00 AM one more time to spray a weed killer or a pesticide while the wind was down. I could have stayed longer, hand pollinated more, wrapped each flower in plastic and made sure that raindrops or insects would not contaminate the pollinating process. I could have watered with a soaker hose so no flowers got wet with a sprinkler. There are many, many things that each fall I swear I will do better "next year".
I really am going to go that EXTRA mile next year as it will be here in the blink of an eye. Now is the time to decide how I will go that extra mile.
I told a friend, who maintains a large lawn and garden for an elderly couple, that I was going to go that extra mile next year. It was just that I hadn't decided what area I wanted to concentrate on. I could hand pollinate more, cross pollinate more, dig a watering trench, lay plastic for a warmer soil temperature and weed control, fertilize more, water more, tie more knots or shape more gourds.
He interrupted me and said, "Fertilizer."
He then told me how he goes that "EXTRA" mile in his garden.
At this point I want to tell you, my readers, that I am writing his words to me as exactly as I can remember them...this is honestly his extra mile.
"Each April," he says, "when the circus comes to town, they do shows on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For clean up detail they sweep up all the pop corn sacks and pop cups and everything else people throw on the floor and throw it all into one of those big garbage containers they park outside the arena.
Well most people don't know it but they also put one of those big containers over by the elephant trailers. Each morning when they wake up, the first thing those elephants do is relieve themselves of about 40 pounds of pure fertilizer. At about 10AM each morning I go over and climb into the container and get the bags that they put the stuff into and load it into my pick-up. Each day I must get a couple of hundreds pounds of the stuff. It's GREAT!"
I know I let the silence hang just a little too long before I spoke, and I know that I should have pretended to give his "extra mile" some thought. Instead I just said, "I think I'll just go with the soaker hose."
I know by the end of next summer I'm going to wish that I had gone that "extra" mile and jumped into that container and fished out a few hundred pounds of...no...I don't think that will be happening anytime soon!
Ken we just want to take this opportunity to thank you for your humorous and enlightening series of essays. It was a real pleasure and we look forward to hearing from you again. Carolyn and Linda
Out Of The Mailbag
Hi Carolyn and Linda,
I want to wish you two a Happy Holiday and a Happy New Year. Here I am holding my "piece de la resistance." See you in 2014.
Hi Joe, Look forward to it as always. Thanks for the photo - we love your art. Merry Christmas. Carolyn and Linda
Dear Northern Dipper,
I would like to thank you for the newsletters I receive each month. They are informative and entertaining with something for everyone. The past couple of months they have not come in so I would like to sign up again. Can you do this for me? Thanks,
Bobbie Stewart, Newmarket, Ont.
Consider it done Bobbie. Glad you like the newsletters. We most certainly enjoy doing them. (You can also view the newsletters in our archives which are on the main page of our website.) Carolyn
Many people believe that if you play music for an infant still in the womb, the baby will have an appreciation for music. The University of Helsinki has taken this line of thought a step further.
As reported by the Daily News, the University of Helsinki found that babies in the womb remembered the songs they listened to before they were born. Researchers presented two groups of pregnant women with music tapes which they played loudly five times a week during the last three months of pregnancy. One of the groups had tapes which had Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on it three times.
Shortly after birth the babies were played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. In the first group measured brainwaves of the babies lit up each time they heard the song. This happened for approxiametly four months. The control group babies were not exposed to this song and had no response when they heard the song. The study concluded that babies are capable of learning at a very young age.
Looking Ahead: January, 2014
We are honoured to start 2014 off with mask maker David Sisk. A resident of Tuscan, Arizona, David has always been a trail blazer, one example being that he gave up a secure 15 year job to pursue his art. This man is a natural; he has had no formal training and yet has experienced incredible success.
Since that time David's masks are exhibited at high end art shows and are found in private collections throughout the US and Europe. David Sisk is a fascinating man and we are thrilled to feature him in the January issue of Gourd Fever.
Another year has past and we would like to thank you for your support during 2013. Many of you have
come out to the farm for workshops or come to the shows and even though many of you started out as customers you have ended up as friends. We treasure these relationships.
Cheers to a new year - we wish you all the best in 2014.
Carolyn and Linda
Volume 9, Number 105
In this issue:
Karen Ann Hundt-Brown: A Gourd In Every Home
The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper
Ken Carlson: Going That Extra Mile!
Out of the Mailbag, Gourd Sightings & Trivia
The Bulletin Board
December Christmas Shows
The One of a Kind Christmas Show
Nov 28 - Dec 8
Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place
Originals Christmas Craft Show
Dec 12 - 22
Ernst & Young Centre
This Christmas ornament was found at a flea market by our featured artist Karen Ann Hundt-Brown. She thought it was plastic but upon closer inspection discovered it was carved gourd. It has had a home on Karen's tree for a
few years now.
Karen Ann Hundt-Brown
"One can never have too
many gourds, unless you
can't get into your house!"
Carolyn (on the left) & Karen
" I knew from an early age
that I wanted to be an artist.
I won an art scholarship to
a JC College near home
and attended one year before transferring to Grand Rapids. It was there where I attended the Kendall School of Art and Design and studied illustration."
"The first year I grew gourds was purely by chance. I had received a free pack of seeds with my vegetable and flower seed order. I planted them and ended up with a giant green
box in my garden. In
the fall, after cutting away
the dead vines, I found 50 gourds much to my delight"
"The problem was I had no idea as to what to do with them. A trip to the library garnished The Complete Book of Gourd Art and it was there I Iearned that I had to wait 6 months while they dried."
"In the interm I did my homework and through several internet searches discovered a whole world of people who were also crazy about gourds. I learned a lot and could not wait to get started on doing my own gourd art."
Words of Advice For New Artists
"Gourds are not a healthy hobby to get into. Invest in your safety equipment first; the life you save may be your own."
"Go to gourd shows, compete, take classes, talk to people and make new gourd friends"
"If you are planning on making art as a career choice, take a few business courses to learn the basics on running a small business. You'll need that in order to make a successful career out of art."
"Art will lift you up! Everyone can do art work and enjoy it. Folks just need to take a
class to see how much fun
it is playing with gourds. Adults don't get enough
play days to just enjoy the feeling of freedom play
time can give one."
"I plan to continue to teach
as many classes as I can
and will continue my life-long quest to learn as much as
It's A Dog's Life
Christmas is an exciting time not only for humans but also for dogs and cats. There are however hazards that pet owners should watch out for when sharing space with canines and felines at this
time of year.
At Christmas who doesn't have a few boxes of chocolates in the house. Great for us but for your pup or kitty a box of chocolates can be deadly.
The compound that is toxic
in this sweet treat is theobromine. Symptoms are: Vomiting, increased thirst, diarrhea, muscle spasms, seizures, coma and in extreme cases death.
If you find your pup has
gotten into the chocolate
call your vet or local animal hospital quickly.
Tinsel and Ribbon
Tinsel and ribbon is a real draw for animals, especially for playful, young cats. If ingested it can cause serious damage in the intestine resulting in infection. The prognosis for tinsel in the gut is poor. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and fever.
Poinsettias & Mistletoe
Poinsettias have the reputation of being highly poisonous to animals but this is not true. This "flower" does have a milky sap which will irritate the mouth but this plant will not kill your animal.
Mistletoe on the other hand is highly toxic and can cause vomiting, severe diarrhea, difficulty breathing, shock and death within hours of ingesting it. Keep the mistletoe securely tied up high in the doorway, not on the coffee table.
No Surprise Gifts!
Think twice before surprising
a friend or a relative with a new Christmas pet. It is a long term commitment to own a pet and every January the animal shelters fill up with pets that are not wanted. Make sure to ask before giving.
Music Pick Of The Month
The Artist: Brandon Heath
The Song: Night Before Christmas
The Artist: Jethro Tull
The Song: Christmas Song
"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly
hand and for a talk by the
fire: it is time for home."
Victoria BC, V8R 2Z7
PO Box 1145
5376 County Rd 56
L0L 1L0, Canada