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Rust Never Sleeps by Bill Colligen

In This Issue: It is not often that we revisit the artists that we have featured in the past. Seeing as we have published this newsletter for 10 years now, and have had the honour of presenting artists from all over the world, we thought it would be fun to see what some of these innovative people are up to now.

This month we are dropping in on Bill Colligen. Bill's art was featured in Issue 75 and since that time he has created two new collections named the Relic Collection and Intention Vessels. The common thread in Bill's art is an Eastern influence. It runs parallel with Bill's spiritual journey thus becoming a big influence in his finished work.   

Om of Gold by Bill Colligen       

Fall is right around the corner and the days are getting shorter. The focus in The Gourd Garden this month is the gourd harvest and storage. By following a few simple rules your crop will dry and transform into next spring's art supplies. It has been a very quick season this year; it seems as though I was just soaking my seeds!
Also lots of mail and trivia to delight you plus a short segment on green-peeling. This is a hypnotic exercise with great results so if you have any green gourds pull a few aside. Before we get to that however please welcome back a most remarkable and creative artist, Bill Colligen.

Bill Colligen: The Poetry of Art

Bill Colligen was born with the passion of an artist. As a boy he could be found deep in the woods, lost among the flora and the fauna; his sketchbook bursting at the seams with all that surrounded him. In the 60's he attended university where he majored in Art Education. Feeling restless like many of his generation, Bill dropped out of school and moved to Los Angeles.
For the next 26 years he worked at various jobs with the flame of artistic inspiration burning low in the background. Eventually Bill became a Master Gardener and garden designer focusing his attentions on Zen gardens. In 1995 he moved back to Arizona where he continued his landscape career.
It was the art of Robert Rivera that brought Bill into the gourd world of possibilities. This was the moment that low burning flame suddenly came to life. He bought some gourds and a wood burner and set into work. In 1997 he joined the Artists' Cooperative in Jerome, AZ and even though he perceived his early works as crude, he quickly came to realize that people liked it and bought it.

Since that time Bill has developed his own distinct style of museum quality art. He has always had an affinity for Eastern art and over the years has collected a plethora of source materials including books, decorations and embellishments which he uses in his Relic Collection.  

The gourds in his Relic Collection look as though they are 3000 years old and pulled from an ancient Chinese tomb. People are both shocked and surprised that this art are light gourds, not the heavy bronzes they portray. Finely carved, these gourds have patinas that can only be described as authentic looking. The Relic Collection is one-of-a-kind art, both wonderful and unique.
The Geometric Collection consists of gourds that wear geometric indigenous patterns. Bits of turquoise and gold leaf embellish the finely carved bodies and the handles are Zen like in nature.
His latest collection, Intention Vessels, is the one that is causing great excitement in both the galleries and with Bill himself. This collection is a collaboration between Bill and a man named Lance Thomas, who, like Bill, is a Yoga devotee. Bill states that Yoga has influenced his art and that as he embraces Yoga as a way of life, the world around him is constantly filled with more joy and bliss. Bill's art is beginning to reflect the spiritual path that he is on and the collaboration between himself and Lance just seems like a natural progression of Bill's journey.
When asked about what it was like to work with another person Bill quickly replied that it was great both creatively and spiritually. Bill had envisioned creating art with purpose and he believes Intention Vessels are just that. With Lance's guidance Bill is able to create art that can actually help people. The concept is that by setting an intention and placing it inside your chosen vessel, it begins the journey towards the realization of your dreams.
On the home front Bill has a nine - month old Jack Russell named Cooper that keeps Bill on the move. Cooper is a handful with energy to burn so once a week Bill takes him on long hikes in the Prescott area. In the neighbourhood Bill and Cooper are a familiar sight and are popular among both dog walkers and non-dog walkers alike.
To learn more about Bill Colligen click here:
For Bill's Facebook site click here:

The Gourd Gardener: The Harvest

 This photo with dippers was sent in by a reader.
It's September and the gourd vines are heavy with  green gourds. To the first time grower the season has been filled with many questions. Now at the end the final questions will be "When and how do I harvest my gourds and how do I ensure they dry properly?" There are a few guidelines to follow so let's start off with them.
1.) Do not, under any circumstances, cut the gourds from the vines before the first hard frost. The vines should be brown (dead) and in most places in Canada and the northern U.S. this will hopefully not occur until late October. In the meantime just let your gourds be. They are still maturing and are quite happy to be left alone for the next few weeks.
2.) If you have trellised gourds leave them up for the winter. They will dry beautifully and in the late spring most varieties will be dry enough to wash and use. 
3.) For the ground-grown gourds it is best that they be harvested. Using a pair of hand-pruners cut the gourds leaving a couple of inches of stem. The key to drying is good air circulation so if possible leave a bit of space between the gourds during storage. They can be kept in an unheated shed or garage or placed on pallets outside. Mid-winter go out and turn the large ones. Check to make sure none are rotting - if so discard them because once they collapse a slimy mess will have to be dealt with. It's an awful job cleaning up.
4.) The gourds will turn very moldy during the drying process. Some people like to wipe their drying gourds with a mild Javex/water solution but as an ex-commercial grower that was never an option. The mold is hard on the lungs so if you are handling moldy gourds or washing them in the spring after drying make sure to wear a good respirator.
5.) Do not drill holes in the gourds to hasten drying. There is no real advantage and it is just an invitation to bacteria.
6.) One last job of the season is to clean up your growing area and get rid of the old dead vines. Once this is done take a moment to appreciate all of your efforts. It's been a great year and in the spring we will meet again when we will all be soaking and planting our seeds, tending the seedlings and dreaming of the things to come.  

Gourd Sighting

Hello Carolyn and Linda,                                             It has been a while since I've sent in a gourd sighting but last week while visiting the Toronto Zoo, I spotted gourds in different enclosures. The photos I am sending you is of the Black Tree Monkey enclosure. 

The gourds were big - I do not know whether the gourds were used for sleeping or whether the keepers filled them with food. Anyways here you go. 
PS I pulled a photo off the Internet of a Black Tree Monkey just so you could see how cute they were.


Hi Antonella,                                                           How nice to hear from you and thanks for the photos. A couple of years ago we donated a few bags of gourds for their animal stimulation program. They use them with a wide array of animals including birds, lizards and of course the monkeys! They are used for nesting and food retrieval. Take care, Carolyn

Out Of The Mailbag 
Hi Northern Dipper,
How are things there? All good I hope! I have a new website that has been up for awhile for you and your readers to check out. It has a lot of my new work - you will see I've been busy. The link is  Blue Skies, Carla

Hi Carla,                                                                      It has been a while since we've heard from you. I checked out your website and your new work is beautiful. Thanks for sending in the info. Carolyn

PS For you readers that are unfamiliar with Carla's art check out our newsletter archives. Carla was featured in Issue 91 and her work is truly amazing. 
Hello there,
I know you are always looking for new uses for gourds and I, or rather my sister, has one. She had a real problem with slugs and snails this year so she asked me for a gourd. I gave her a snake gourd and she cut it in half with a couple of entry was there that the slugs would congregate. She would then dispose of them. Sounds ruthless but that's the way it was.  Shannon Majado - Port Perry, Ontario

Looking Ahead: November 2014 

We will complete the year with an interview with Missy Miles, owner of Organic Vessels, a studio and gallery located in Hamilton, Alabama. Missy is both a gourd artist and muralist and her work is impressive. The fine carving, sculpting and colorful paints transform the plain shell of a gourd into whimsical creatures as well as more serious art. Her murals are seen everywhere; from the sides of community centers to businesses and schools. It is our pleasure to feature Missy Miles, an artist you will not soon forget.
As it is November we will be going though our mini gourds in order to prepare for Christmas. Ornaments are easy to make Christmas gifts and we will be linking into some sites that will give you lots of ideas.
Until next time, stay happy and enjoy the beautiful fall weather where ever you are. Good luck with the gourd harvest gardeners. Send in some photos if you would like. It would be great to share them with thousands of other gourd lovers around the globe!
                               Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond 








Volume 10, Number 110 


In this issue

Bill Colligen: The Poetry of Art

The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper
The Gourd Gardener: The Gourd Harvest & Storage
Out Of The Mailbag, Gourd Sightings & Trivia

 The Bulletin Board

 Gratifying, entertaining and educational are words that describe the Northern Dipper workshops. If this is what you are looking for then Northern Dipper is the place to come.

These  fall classes are filling up quickly so be sure to sign up today.

Cool Funky Birds!


Stippling (Pointillism)

 Whimsical Santa
Old Time Santa 
To learn more about these workshops click here:

Bill Colligen

"Life is so beautiful and I am blessed for this existence." 
 Lion Relic
"The Relic Collection is the most elaborate series I have ever done. With that being said there are lots of layers and materials used in the process. For each piece there is a minimum of 10 layers that have to be completed sequentially."
"A lot of the materials I use are what I call "found treasures." Many of the handles for the Relics were procured from abandoned mining equipment while hiking in Colorado."
"The patina inspiration comes from the Chinese Ritual Bronzes of the Shang and Zhou dynasties."
A History of the Chinese Ritual Bronzes 
Sets of ritual bronzes are the most impressive surviving objects from the Chinese Bronze Age. From around 1650 BC they were deposited in the tombs of royality and the nobility.
The spiritual practices of the Shang dynasty people arose from the belief that the spirits of ancestors, who in the supernatural world, were forever in control of man's earthy well-being, It was believed necessary that offerings of prayer and food constantly be made to them.
Shri Yantra
"I do a fair amount of commission work in addition to my other art. If someone has an idea I am happy to do the best I can to realize their vision. Recently, I have completed a few pieces for individuals who lost their horses. They saved some of the hair and I wove it unto the gourd along with other adornments."
Spirit Feathers
"It is my goal to continue to create art that is imbued with spirituality. I would love to get Intention Vessels into yoga studios, so more people have the opportunity to benefit from these works of art. I want to continue to do what inspires me to create art and right now that is Intention Vessels and Relics."

Green Peeling


Green-peeling is a technique that is used by carvers who want a clear, blemish free gourd shell to work on. Using a green gourd and a dull utility knife or even a smooth-bladed kitchen knife scrape off the outer skin. Be careful not to cut into the gourd. Once done wash off with a mild Javex/water mix.

If you want to achieve a pattern scape off the background.
To illustrate this, look at the photo above. The horse was not scraped and the background was. Once dried the horse jumped out and the background was clear of markings caused by the mold.
Photos of Mature Gourds
 There is such a huge variation in the green of a gourd.

These gals will be left up on the trellis to dry over the winter. 

 This is a huge heavy gourd which will be watched during the drying process. It will be turned on a regular basis and  wiped down with Javex and water. Let's just hope it has a thick shell once it has dried.
 A dried gourd left on the trellis over winter will lose it's skin.

Out Of The Mailbag 

Hi Northern Dipper,
I attended your workshop Funky Birds on August 9 with my friend and I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much we enjoyed ourselves.
You were so warm and welcoming and even though I am a bit of a novice when it comes to gourds, you made me feel like an expert.
The best part of all is now I have a real Funky Bird out in my garden which my family and friends really like.
I will be signing up for one of your other workshops this coming week - a good selection makes the choice very difficult!!! Thanks for everything. See you soon.
Zoe Duncan-Brantford, Ont.
  It's A Dog's Life

Be Responsible - Get Your Pets Fixed! 

There is a lady down the street who will not get her female cat spayed. The cat has just had her 2nd litter which means that this little cat has had 9 kittens. The shelters are full of cats and kittens so why would this woman not get her cat spayed?
With dogs, a female dog at age five and her offspring (assuming there are 2 females per litter) can produce 192 puppies.
Spaying and neutering allow your pets to live longer and healthier lives, your males won't roam and will be better behaved.
There are organizations who will help in the costs of spaying and nurturing. One  in BC is the JLA Society. They raise money by hosting fundraising special events such as Pet - A - Palooza.
Their focus is on education and awareness issues and they do provide free spay and neutering clinics. Many of the SPCA's around the country do as well. So pick up the phone and make an appointment. Your pet will appreciate it as will your community.

Music Pick of the Month
The Artist:
Sunny Boy Williamson
The Songs:
 Keep It To Yourself
The Sky Is Crying

 Published by: Pam Grossi  Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7

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

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