In This Issue: Pack your bags everyone! We are off to Australia to have some gourd fun with Maxene and Geoff, owners of Mothar Mountain Gourds. This dynamic couple are inspiring. They gave up their day jobs to pursue their dreams of becoming full-time artists and in addition are  commercial gourd growers which can be a full time job just in itself. They also do trade shows, have art classes for children at their local gallery and do art for charity.
Each have their own distinctive style when it comes to art as well as their own unique approach towards design. Maxene paints with her intuition using colour and free designs. Geoff is more precise and studied; he is an inventor and will often give a new twist to everyday objects. Both are fascinating and we are certain that you will enjoy them just as much as we have. 
(Pictured above is one of Maxene's gourd hat creations and below is Geoff's whale.)
It has been a quick summer and in most places September brings cooler night time temperatures. The day time temperatures are warm which is exactly what the maturing gourds in the garden need.  At this time of year it is tempting to cut the gourds from the vine simply because they are big. Please don't! They still have a couple of more months to go.  
Read on gourd gardeners and get the facts on the harvest and the drying process. When, why and how are questions we will be looking at...soon you will all be able to consider yourselves experts.  
(Below: One of Maxene's chickens.)
Also some great letters, trivia and an interesting music pick this month. So pull up a chair, relax and prepare to enter the world of Mothar Mountain Gourds located in that wonderful 'land down under' Australia. 
(Below: Geoff's carving Summer Harvest.)  

Maxene & Geoff: The Artists Behind Mothar Mountain Gourds


About 2 hours north of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia lies a beautiful rural property. It is the home of Mothar Mountain Gourds. As you enter there are hills of gourd plants in the field thriving under the hot Australian sun. Approaching the house there are colourful gourd chickens eyeing you up. And at the door are Maxene and Geoff, an energetic couple who have their fingers in many pots.

Four years ago Maxene and Geoff barely knew what a gourd was but a small packet of seeds, bought at the local produce store, changed all that. The seeds produced 100 gourds to their amazement but because they had no idea as to what to do with them, the gourds were thrown in a shed where they sat.
Twelve months later while at her pottery class, Maxene happened upon a magazine picture of some wild crazy birds. She thought to herself "I can do that with my gourds." Little did she know back then that this decision would change her life in ways she could not imagine.
Geoff is a farmer and mechanic by trade. Back then Geoff was only interested in growing gourds until Maxene brought home a gourd art book with pictures of carved gourds and lattice work. He went straight to his workshop and tried to make one with his farmer's tools.
Frustrated Geoff quickly realized it wasn't going to work so he went down to the hardware store and bought a $200.00 Dremmel. He hasn't stopped carving since and is always coming up with new ideas. Examples are his new "Gourd-O-Phone" - a small, portable model is presently a work-in-progress.
Geoff uses more of a scientific approach in his art compared to Maxene. He likes to experiment with design and will take his time perfecting it. He is very much a gadget man and likes to experiment making lights, torches, instruments and other practical things. He even makes things not so practical such as spaceships and futuristic designs.
(Geoff's race car. It's hard to see in this photo but the entire audience is made up of Maxene's gourd chickens!) 
Maxene on the other hand has been into art since she could hold a pencil in her hand. She loves drawing and painting and has decorated everything from T-shirts to terra cotta pots. She likes to do some functional/practical art as she finds that is what sells but regardless of whether it is functional or whimsical it is all beautiful.
When creating a piece of art Maxene usually goes with her intuition. She will begin by putting a couple of colours onto the gourd surface and then keeps adding dots, dashes and flowers until it looks good.
Lately she has tried to use themes such as the colours of the ocean, Mexican colours or even landscape shades. The reason? Maxene had to do 100 birds for a garden show...she was thrilled with the results and loved the challenges she created for herself.
Maxene and Geoff sell much of their art and raw gourds at local markets focusing on garden shows and Christmas and Easter Fairs. They also sell a small but constant amount at their local gallery gift shop.
Maxene states that the one thing she has learned is to not sell on consignment; no one can sell your work like you can. Others may disagree but Maxene is the type of person who likes to control her own destiny.
They do have farm visits by appointment only and have held quite a few children's classes at their local gallery. The kids love it and Maxene finds they give her great ideas with their unlimited imaginations. They have had interest from adults and are looking forward to holding classes in the near future for them as well.
There is a very small gourd industry in Australia and with classes, a good website and trade shows Maxene and Geoff are hoping to change that. Every week they find more and more people who are interested or who has done gourd art. They have customers making lamps, fairy houses, dolls and instruments; one is doing interpretive dance with gourds and others are making a variety of art.
Their customer base is varied and is constantly growing. Maxene and Geoff encourage artists to show them what they are making so they can share their experiences and help promote both the artist and their art through their website.
Community involvement is part of the Mothar Mountain Gourds philosophy and recently Maxene organized a charity fashion parade where she made gourd that was really different!
To learn more about Mothar Mountain Gourds and to view more of Maxene's and Geoff's art click here:

Out Of the Mailbag

Hello ladies,
I hope the photos came through. I call them, "Produce, process and product." I actually made a playable gourd banjo! It was really an interesting experience and I learned a lot.
One of the trickiest bits for me was getting an even remotely level cut on the gourds. I did use them both and have to laugh because the so-called practice gourd turns out to have the "nicer" voice.
Now, because of the manner of construction, it is relatively easy to switch out the gourds. This got me thinking, "What if I could try again? Wouldn't it be nice to try a larger gourd." So I'm wondering if I could ask you to keep an eye out for something more in the 10" to 12" range? I understand that that size of gourd is less common so I'm not holding my breath or anything, but if you could keep me in mind I'd really appreciate it.
Thanks again for the advice and for selecting such beautiful gourds for my fumbling first effort. I consider it a grand success!
                                                     Bob Trueman
Hi Bob
Thanks for sending in these photos. It is a fine looking banjo and I bet it has great tone. Regarding large gourds we have lots; I'll have a look and will email you. Look forward to your next success. Carolyn 
Hello Carolyn and Linda,
Here is a photo of my latest lamp. Everyone that has seen it likes it. I hope you do too!
                                                     Douglas Allen
Hi Douglas, I do like it! It must be gorgeous in a room filled with darkness. Thanks for sending the photo in. Carolyn 
Last month we featured Beth Peart and would like to add a link to her website which shows her art in detail. Please click on the following:

"Other Stuff"
The World's First "Car In A Bag"
Twenty-six year old Japanese engineer Kuniako Saito of Cocoa Motors, Japan has developed the world's first "car in a bag." Weighing in between 2-3 kilograms (4.4 - 6.6 pounds), this transporter can support weight up to 265 pounds. This aluminum "walk car" can reach up to 6.2 miles per hour and can travel up to 7.4 miles after 3 hours of charging. It is run with a lithium battery. 
To operate it just stand on it. Your shifting weight will change it's direction. To stop all you have to do is step off. It is sturdy enough for a person to use it while pushing a wheelchair and the best part is that it is small enough to fit into a backpack. Priced at about $800.00 it is easy to imagine that many people will be interested in its purchase. To learn more about this "car in a bag" click here:


Looking Ahead: November 2015 

NEXT ISSUE: We are thrilled to have with us Susan Levesque, a well-known Canadian gourd artist who has had her work featured in Jim Widess's book "The Complete Book of Gourd Carving" along with other publications. Susan's art contains many different elements and is sought after by those who like "one of a kind" art. 
Very much into nature, the images which Susan uses are reflections of what she sees on her frequent hikes or canoe trips. For other designs she travels with her imagination which is full of colour and interesting composition. You are in for a treat in November with our featured artist Susan Levesque.
Christmas is right around the corner and we are in top form ready to offer ideas for the artistic person on your Christmas list. In the meantime check out our current workshops. Some will fill very quickly so be sure to sign up today.
George Elliot once said "Delicious autumn! My soul is wedded to it , and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." That's how we feel about it too. Wishing you all a wonderful autumn...
                          Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond  









Volume 11, Number 116 


In this issue:

Maxene & Geoff: The Artists Behind Australia's Mothar Mountain Gourds 

The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper
The Gourd Gardener: The Harvest 

Out Of The Mailbag, Gourd Sightings & Trivia

   The Bulletin Board

September, October and November workshops are up on the Northern Dipper website and there are far too many to list here.
Here is a small sampling...check out our website for a full listing.  
September Workshops 
"Sculpting A
Woodland Elf"
Sat & Sun, Sept 19 & 20
 Learn the Leslie Baily technique to sculpting and build a woodland elf. This workshop is suitable for all skill levels.
"Clucking Along"
Sunday, September 27
Come on out, kick back, relax and enjoy the country air while designing your own charming country hen. Every home need one!
October Workshops 
"Power Carving Turtle with Dimensional Ripples"
Saturday, October 17  
For more details click here and then go into WORKSHOPS listed on the left hand side: http://
Upcoming Shows
Inspired Hands
October 23 - 24 - 25
Radisson Hotel and Conference Center
Sudbury, Ontario
For details click here:

Maxene & Geoff - Mothar Mountain Gourds

 "Last year was our first year of commercially growing gourds. We both gave up our jobs and said lets give it a go. There aren't many people growing gourds in Australia so it's a niche market but we are gradually finding more people using them for art and instruments. In addition to being commercial growers we are also professional artists."
"Gourds grow well in the warm Australian climate but irrigation is necessary because it can be very dry. We are also in a flood area - this year the water came up to 3 metres below our gourd patch. To give you an image of what it was like; Geoff was collecting gourds in his canoe!"
 (Pictured below: Maxene's Chickens)
"The first bird I (Maxene) painted was Pete the pigeon. I took him to the local market with a large basket of raw gourds and everyone wanted to buy Pete. I simply just took it from there."
("Pictured below - Geoff's carvings)  
Advice For New Artists
"What intrigues us the most about gourds is coming up with new ideas and what we will think of next. Our advice for new artists is that if you haven't tried gourd art before be prepared to become addicted. If you have done it ENJOY! It just gets better." 
(Below: Geoff's gourd-o-phone. The mini model is a work in progress.)  
 "We are both inspired by nature and by the gourd itself with its organic shape and markings. Geoff likes the gourd to remain true to itself; he always leaves a part of the gourd in its natural state. Much of Geoff's art includes owls, animals. trees and leaves."
"My chickens are really natural but my art birds are just an accentuation of what amazing colours nature already provides."
"There are so many ideas and images floating around the world these days that you can just grab little pieces in your mind, add your own experiences and turn it into your own unique style."
(Pictured below: Geoff's Lamp)
  "We would really love to travel overseas and go to some festivals. We would also love to have a place on a tourist route one day so we can set up a shop and hold classes. Next year we plan on having a combined exhibit. Now that will be exciting."

"Ain't nobody here but us chickens." 
Song lyrics, Louis Jorden   

The Gourd Gardener 

Exciting times lay ahead with the harvest. The number one fact to remember is when to not cut any gourds from the vine until after the first hard frost.
Harvested gourds require good air circulation to dry properly. If you have trellised gourds they can be left hanging over the winter.
For ground grown gourds they should be cut from the dead vines leaving a couple of inches of stem. Store them on palettes with space between each gourd if possible. Place them on their bottoms as you do not want flat sides. They can be stored outside or in a cold shed.
 Gourds will take the winter to dry. You can go out and turn the large ones during this time if you like but it is not absolutely necessary.
During drying the gourds will turn very moldy. Depending on the variety they may also develop a thick white waxy skin.
Lastly clean up your gourd garden in the fall getting rid of all the dead vines. This will rid the garden from over-wintering insects and disease. Good luck everyone! It's been a fun growing season.

        Gourd Sighting

A trip to Niagara On The Lake in Ontario brought us to Ten Thousand Villages; a shop which is filled with gorgeous gift and home décor items such as baskets, bowls, fabric  and garden items.
Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit program which creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries. It provides income by bringing their products into the North American market.
In the music section we saw a few gourd instruments. Pictured above is a small stringed decorative instrument from Africa. For more information about Ten Thousand Villages click here:

It's A Dog's Life

 Spear grass is any wild grass that has barbed seeds. As you can see from the photo they have a sharp point with fine hair-like stems and they attach easily to any dog walking by.
Once attaching to a dog it will work its way into the dog's body. It is extremely painful. Spear grass cannot be pulled out once in and will require a vet visit and even surgery to remove. The worst thing about spear grass is that once in, it travels. For example one vet stated that spear grass had entered between the toes and ended up in a lung.
To prevent this from occurring in your dog conduct an inspection after the dog park, beach and even a walk in the neighbourhood. Pay particular attention to the toes, ears, eyes, underbelly and nose. That old saying "an ounze of prevention" really applies when it comes to spear grass. 

Music Pick Of The Month

The Entourage Music and Theatre Ensemble 
The Songs: Silver Drum

 Published by Pam Grossi Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7

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

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