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In This Issue: Beadwork has a long history which stretches back to the 14th century. Beads been used by many cultures throughout Europe, North America and the Middle East and have come in many different forms ranging from bone and stone to glass, wood and plastic. In Africa beads have historically been valued as a currency and today are used as an artistic medium. This medium is one that this month's featured artist Beth Peart both appreciates and loves.

Beth's fine beadwork is showing up in collections around the world. It is influenced by the traditional African religion Ifá-Òrìṣà  and is intricate and finely detailed. A fascinating woman, please welcome Beth Peart to this summer issue of Gourd Fever. 
We are busy at Northern Dipper with a big gourd sale (see above photo) and workshops. Come on out to the farm; it is a lovely drive and we are close to Cookstown which is a charming town full of unique shops and good restaurants. Hope to see you soon.
The gourd gardens in most of Canada and the US will be bursting at their seams with thick vines and a sea of white night blooming flowers. We have received emails from a few readers about pruning so we will address this subject along with another couple of points pertinent to July and August.  
We have lots of mail plus the usual allotment of trivia. But that will come soon it is time to enter the world of Beth Peart and the allure of the bead.  

Beth Peart: The Bead and The Calabash 

"Blessed are the weird people - poets, misfits, writers, mystics...painters and troubadours - for they teach us to see the world through different eyes." Jacob Nordby  

Beth Peart has admired gourd art for quite some time but it has only been the past 8 years that she began to make things from them herself. It was also 8 years ago that Beth became a convert to the traditional African religion of Ifá-Òrìṣà  (Ifa-Orisha). This conversion opened doors that Beth had not anticipated including a new incarnation as a bead and calabash artist.

Culturally African calabashes (gourds) are very important and are used as vessels, bowls, musical instruments, medicine bottles, and in some cases, as the base for power-inbued headwear. All the gourd/calabash objects Beth has made have been in an Afro-Cuban or Afro-Brazilian style. As a result of the transatlantic slave trade, both cultures have strong ties with Ifá-Òrìṣà, which originates in Nigeria and the Benin Republic. (Dahomey)
Beth's approach to design is best described as eclectic. She is a collector of African art, particularly Yoruba sculpture, masks, beadwork and textiles. In addition Beth has a strong foundation in European and North American art and design with particular interest in those works from pre-history to the turn of the 20th century.
When asked what inspires Beth in her art she explained that she starts from the position that there is a creative power in the universe called Àẹ (Ashe/Ashay). Àẹ is the power to manifest and is the generative and regenerative force in all things. Everything that has been created or will be created has Àẹ. Beth believes that all artists have strong Àẹ and the things they make have their own. 
The great and usually nameless masters of traditional African bead work are studied by Beth along with the designs of Cuban, American and Brazilian makers of beaded objects and regalia, including those who use gourds in their art.
She states that some of the work out there is a mind-boggling phenomenon in complexity and colour and she really strives to emulate those masterworks. Smiling she says that she doesn't think she's there yet but in the end that is and will be her journey. 

Beth thinks of herself as primarily a milliner and what she does is limited by the form and size of the headwear. She is self-taught and over time her technique has become more complex and accomplished. She knows of no other high-end bead artists working in the same cultural-religious context in Canada though she is reasonably certain some are out there.
Other bead artists in the culture tell Beth that she has a distinct style; it is true, Beth's work is readily recognizable. It rides the stylistic boundaries between the different denominations in African traditional religion - indigenous and diasporic, sometimes with a contemporary twist or a nod to Canada's native traditions. 
A crown takes Beth on average 40 hours to complete. It is all hand-stitched; even the beaded gourds are hand-stitched. It is very labour intensive and most of her art is commission work. Beth has not exhibited at a show for 5 years now and even then it was as a part of a group, not a solo show.
Beth wants her work to provoke a discussion on who 'owns' culture or a specific culture. She wants it to be unifying in the end. The denominations of her chosen faith group are at war at the moment over the differences, while neglecting our commonalities. Beth's goal is to promote peace.
Her art provokes a lot of chatter, sometimes negative, particularly among African and African American people. Beth states she is neither, yet she work with an idiom that some consider 'theirs'. That it is good work has bothered some people even more. One person even tried to call down all the spirits to kill Beth, but as you can see, she is still here.
On the other hand there are many more Africans and African descendants who love what she does and are utterly supportive. They absolutely outnumber her detractors. What her teachers have taught, and her own view is, that her work is a form of worship in a culture and religion that accepts all people as unique children of the Creator. Beth states, "I am me, my Creator loves me. That's enough." 
Beth looks forward to a time when she can actually sit and observe a traditional bead master. She would like to visit Nigeria and the Benin Republic and also visit and observe calabash carvers at work in either nation.
In her spare time she is struggling to learn Spanish. She says she knows enough to get into trouble but not enough to get out of it! She finishes by saying that she lives a rather normal life, working as a temp school secretary during the day and sharing a home with her husband and four cats at night.   
To view more of Beth's art click here:

"Learning To Sculpt" Workshop

We are pleased to host two sculpting workshops with instructor Leslie Baily. Learn to sculpt a woodland elf while incorporating a gourd or sign up for the wing workshop...It is very popular as wings can be used with fairies, butterflies; whatever your heart desires.
Just Wingin' It
Instructor: Lesley Bailey
Date: Friday, September 18  Cost: $75.00
In this workshop we will explore various mediums to create 3 unique pairs of a beautiful fairy or angel wings. The finished wings will be applicable on various types of figures, whether soft sculpture, polymer sculpture or other crafts. All materials will be supplied. 
Sculpting A Woodland Elf
Instructor: Leslie Bailey
Saturday & Sunday, September 19 & 20 
Cost: $275.00
This is a two-day workshop where students will learn the Lesley Bailey technique to sculpt and build a woodland elf. This workshop is for all skill levels. It is a great introduction to sculpting in polymer clay and can be very beneficial to those with previous sculpting experience.
Day one will be spent learning step by step techniques to sculpting a male head, hands and feet, all in polymer clay.
Day two will be spent assembling your elf on a wire armature. You will learn painting, adding hair and some basic costuming to complete your elf.
All materials are supplied. Students are required to bring a metal knitting needle and a stylus for sculpting with and any other sculpting tools if they have some, however the knitting needles and stylus is all that is required. 
There will be sculpting tools and clay for sale for your future dolls should you be interested. You may bring small bits of fabric and/or trim on day 2 if you wish; however a selection will be provided as part of the class.  
For details click here:   

The Gourd Gardener: Q & A...

1.) My gourd vines are so long and thick and it doesn't look like I have many gourds. They are ground grown. Should I be shortening the vines? Patricia D
Hi Patricia, As an ex-commercial grower we always use to prune our vines in July. Once they get really thick it becomes more difficult as you can't tell the lead from the lateral. Never mind...just find the ends and cut. Regarding the gourds you may just be surprised as to how many there will be growing under that tangle of vine! Good luck, Carolyn 
2.) It looks as though I have lots of gourds but some are turning brown and falling off. I am a first-time grower and it distresses me to see this. What am I doing wrong? John Warner
Hi John, These small brown gourds that are falling off are gourds that have not been pollinated. The only thing you could have possibly done is get out there in the evening and hand-pollinate using a paint brush. Regarding your distress...believe me I know the feeling! Carolyn 
TIP: If your large ground grown gourds are growing on their side make sure you go through and turn them up on their bottoms. If you do not do this you will end up with a flat-sided gourd. 

Out Of The Mailbag 

Merlyn Purvis is one feisty lady. She does all sorts of art work and has recently developed an interest in gourds. I hope she will join us one day for a workshop. Following is a letter from her son Brian.

Dear Carolyn, Thank you for all the attention you gave my Mom on Saturday. She really enjoyed her visit and there's no doubt that we will be visiting you again. The cleaning activities are already underway and one of these days I should be able to send you a pic of her latest creation.
                                              Kind regards, Brian

Hello Northern Dipper, 
Here are a couple of pictures of before and after. The students loved this gourd project. Our sale is next Thursday...we will be donating to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Organization. We have generated a lot of interest and next year another teacher or two may visit you!          
                          Thank you, Nancy Mallette
PS We made $714.00 through the auction. How awesome is that!!! 
Thank you Nancy for sending these in. These children look really proud of themselves. I see some incredible birdhouses, feeders and bowls and the extra bonus is the art of generosity in the end. All the best, Carolyn

Looking Ahead: September 2015 

We are thrilled to be featuring our old friend Susan Levesque to the pages of Gourd Fever. Susan is an Ontario artist who can often be found canoeing down a waterway with hopes of seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. The images, blazed in her memory, are then transferred to the hard shell gourd in detailed perfection. Susan also works with geometric designs and more.

We will have more workshops listed this month and they will be geared to both beginners and experienced gourd artists. In the above photo is Doug who is a budding gourd artist. His excitement is enough to fill a room and we are delighted to know him. Don't forget to sign up for Leslie Bailey's sculpting workshops on September 18 - 20. We suspect that they will fill fast so make sure you have a seat.
We will be heading into fall so will have our final report from The Gourd Gardener. It will be all about the harvest and drying. Until that time take it easy everyone....
                       Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond 







Volume 11, Number 115 


In this issue:

Beth Peart: The Bead and The Calabash
The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper
The Gourd Gardener: Q & A'

Out Of The Mailbag, Gourd Sightings & Trivia

     The Bulletin Board

NEW! Micromot AC Adapter NG

 This fantastic little workstation has an electronic speed control which is so handy when carving different gourd thickness.
This workstation offers three polarized sockets for MICROMOT machines so that three different tools can be plugged in at a time.
Tools and accessories not included.
For details click here:

 A Big Sale On Big Gourds!

 Chinese Bottles 14" and up
14" - Regular price $20.84
Sale price $13.54 
15" - Regular price $27.78
Sale price $18.05 
16" Regular price $34.73
Sale price $22.57
Shipping is not included.
For more information click here: 

Beth Peart 

"My ego challenges me to be a maker of things that one day will be remembered for creating cultural objects of great beauty and value."


 "Art has been a constant companion for as long as I have lived. I had a very eccentric and creative childhood with many stimulating characters in and out of the house including actors, musicians and artists."
"That, combined with lots of parental encouragement, allowed me to experiment with many mediums. Once grown I earned a B.A. in Fine Art and a Masters' Degree in Art History."  
"I paint using oil, acrylic and egg tempera, and am a potter and clay sculptor. I teach beginner and intermediate pottery night school classes with the Toronto District School Board."  
"I also do some hand-built concrete sculpture that is motivated by West African and Afro-Cuban belief."
 "When I began to work with gourds I began by making maracas, rattles and shakers.
 I then progressed to making crowns (for shrines or initiations) and containers, which are beaded, rather than carved, burnt, painted or stained. Mostly I make crowns and fly whisks for a largely Latin American clientele." 

"I am fortunate because I can hold an end design in my mind and set out to create it. It never turns out exactly as I have envisioned, but it does become what it needs and is suppose to be."
Advice For New Artists 
"Be yourself. Never give up. Follow your Passion(s). Strive for impeccability, not perfection. Be kind to yourself."
"People tell me that they 'don't have an artistic bone in their body.' This is a self-judgement based on their own preconceptions or lies others have told them. Everyone is capable of creativity, especially if you're willing to let go of the things that are holding you back - and they are always self-created."
"Let go. Try something that makes you uncomfortable and do not quit. If you fail, you've learned something about what doesn't work. That's a win. Now go find something that does work." 
"The role of an artist is not limited to one function. I respond most positively to artists that provoke discussion and contemplation, regardless of whether they work on a grand scale (think Ai-Wei-Wei, for instance) or on an intimate scale, like many applied artists and craftspeople."
"My view is that artists must remain the antidote to the homogenization of culture we see in a global, box-free, Nintendo-ized cultural economy. I think they must be the finger in the eye of all 'isms.' " 
"As I do commission work it is important that I listen carefully to my clients about what they want. If something needs to be undone and redone I will undo it and do it again."
"I ask about what colours they want and about certain taboos, to make sure I don't include a colour or object that is forbidden. I am also lucky because most of my clients have been happy to let me make the creative choices."
"There are certain formalities of design and form that do not change in our tradition, and there are other places where some design freedom is permissible."
"I think objects have a spirit of their own and they dictate what they want to look like I have learned to trust the end result and not get derailed by it not looking 'right' in the process. It will be right in the end."
Music Pick Of The Month


Buena Vista Social Club
 The Album:

The Album: (2015)
To learn more about this group click here: 

Gourd Sighting 

 While visiting The Christmas Shop in Victoria BC we came across a section full of gourd Christmas ornaments. There were many and as the Christmas Shop is closing everything is 50% off. 

It's A Dog's Life

Our dog Mickey is an active 7 year old Lab. He loves running, retrieving, swimming and playing on the bed when we're not home. As a result of physical activity he has had a recurring slight limp the past couple of years.
 After a few visits to the vet we decided to take Mick to the chiropractor. Her specialities are dogs and horses.
 Four visits later and the problem was resolved. As it turned out his neck was out of alignment which caused a skip in his right front leg.
Chiropractic care can be a great treatment option for many dogs. If their basic skeletal system is not aligned the body is unable to function to its full potential. 
A loss of alignment can cause pain and discomfort and with simple manipulations all can be put right. Chiropractic care may not work for dogs with arthritis (acupuncture may the ticket here) but it is definitely worth a try if your vet has no firm answers and wants to put your dog on long-term meds.
For more information on this subject please click here:

Out Of The Mailbag 
Hi Carolyn,
Thank you so much for all the time you spent with Marty and I. We truly appreciate all the help and ideas that you gave us.
We are now selling at a local Artisan's Market and at a Farmer's Market. We cannot keep up with the demand.
Thanks again,
Carol and Marty Eckland Wellington Ontario 

 "Other Stuff"
Victoria, BC graduate Erinne Paisley designed her own prom dress using her old Grade 11 pre-calculus notes. She did it to raise awareness about the plight of girls around the world who have to fight for their right to an education.
Paisey's inspiration was Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out about education for girls. Paisley's dress was put up for auction after the prom and the money was going towards the Malala Fund. To learn more about this fund click here:  

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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Northern Dipper Farm - 5376 County Road 56, RR2, Cookstown, Ontario, L0L 1L0, Canada