artists, growtips, info & more

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

Lynette Dawson’s Beautiful Valentine Gourds.

The hearts are done with thread. To see more of Lynette’s wonderful art click here.

In this issue we have an informative report on the mysteries of seed germination as well as Northern Dipper Monthly Specials.  Plus a tutorial on “How To Make A Gourd Lamp” by Featured Artist Lois Dean and a "Thumb's Up" review of Jim Widess’s new Tool Kit. Lets not forget that February 14 is Valentine’s Day and that Feb 13 – 19 is Random Acts of Kindness Week!  So grab a comfy chair and relax for a few minutes with your monthly issue of Gourd Fever. 


Northern Dipper will be shipping seeds in February. We have expanded our varieties and now carry African Drum seeds and Extra Long Dipper seeds in addition to others. Limited Supply: First Come - First Served. For details click here.



Also available is the ND Grow Guide. Comprehensive and easy to read it may be the difference between success and failure. Order 6 packs of seeds and receive a free ND Grow Guide. To view the Grow Guide click here.

Monthly Specials - A Good Deal!


50% OFF SALE on Apple Gourds and Kettles over 9”

February is Apple & Kettle month. We have an excess of Apples and large Kettles and they must go! Discount will be calculated at time of order. Must be shipped in the month of February. To view gourds click here.


Gourd seeds have a very woody thick shell and can be difficult to germinate. It is important to remember that this plant is a heat loving plant and requires very warm soil temperatures for germination. Sprouting times can vary between 5 to 30 days depending on the variety & the thickness of the shells. Be patient & give them as much heat, light & water as you can.


To be successful in gourd growing in northern climes we strongly urge that you start your seeds indoors. To reach maturity, gourds require 110-140 days so you need to give them as much time as possible. Sowing directly into the ground will most often produce a final fruit that has not reached maturity & will eventually collapse & rot during the drying process. Our recommendation is that you start your seeds six weeks before your proposed plant date.


Before planting, gourd seeds should be soaked in pure water for 24 hours. Avoid using water that has been modified with a water softener. Soaking will soften the shells & aid both the rate & the speed of germination. We suggest you use either a pot or pie plate & cover the seeds completely with water.


With small quantities of seeds consider sprouting the seeds between paper towels. Place them in a warm & dark place. Always keep the paper towels moist. (NEVER LET THEM DRY OUT) Once the seeds have sprouted transfer them to peat pots. For larger quantities sow seeds directly into peat pots after soaking.



Use good quality potting soil mixed with vermiculite & peat to improve drainage. Do not use garden soil as it will increase the likelihood of problems such as weeds, pests & diseases. Plant 2 seeds per 3” peat pot. The 3” pot is large enough to handle the vigorous root growth & will get you through to transplanting time. Any smaller pot may result in your seedlings becoming root bound  & not growing at as rapid a rate.


From our experience it is best to lay the 2 seeds sideways in the peat pots far from each other. Cover with 1/4” of soil. Water the soil well both before planting & after planting.


“Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.”  Lou Erickson


Lois Dean – Gourd Artist 

Lois Dean and her family of Yorkies.

Lois Dean is fairly new to the Gourd Scene but judging from her work and enthusiasm one would think she has been working with gourds for years. “The very first gourd I cut open was two years ago in a class at Northern Dipper. It was a lace work class by Vicki Beard and I must admit that mine was the ugliest one in the class. I still have that gourd and proudly display it in my Studio."

As most of you know we all have areas that we excel at and Lois is no exception. She picked up carving like a fish to water.  A couple of years ago she had tried scroll sawing, but her blade kept breaking. She had to keep resetting the blade for every space that she wanted to carve out and ended up frustrated and quit. She then took a class with Gary Devine, who is an Award winning carver himself, and that set Lois on a path of no return. It came so natural that she turned around and found herself able to teach others.


Carving takes a special skill. If you look at the photo of Lois’s Blue Wind gourd it is alive with depth and detail. I asked her if she visualizes the design in the gourd in 3D. She replied,” I guess so. All people see in 3D, if not how do they pick up a glass. I think people need to learn how to see 3D. It really is only depth vision. It’s not that hard to figure out.” Lois uses a Dremel and an engraving tool. She plans to buy herself a new carving tool but to date has not decided which one is best for her.


Lois won the "People's Choice Award" at the Canadian Gourd Society Gourd Festival this past summer with a large and charming Green Dragon. It captured the imagination of everyone. Before gourds, Lois was always busy, whether it was painting murals on her walls or constructing little people houses in her yard. There was knitting and even oil painting, but she firmly states that gourds are the most fun. Lois is not a TV watcher but rather prefers to be productive. ”Guess I was raised that way.” she says. Lucky for us she was.


Lois also breeds Teacup Yorkies. “Yorkies are like potato chips can never have just one!” She was a gardener too but it is hard work to maintain large gardens. ”Getting too old for that labour now.” she quips.


Lois thought long and hard about opening a gift shop featuring gourds and gourd art from her home. She concluded that she likes her privacy too much to have strangers around all the time. To quote Lois, “I think I could teach people about gourds from carving to lace work to bird houses. Then I can set times and have some structure. The way I see it people wanting to learn are happiest people to be around.”

( Lois Dean’s Picturetrail Link Follows Her Gourd Lamp Tutorial)

 Gourd Lamp Tutorial by Lois Dean



Washed Gourd (Kettles are a natural shape for lamps.)

Pencil & Measuring Tape

Heart Shaped Cutout or Heart Stencil

Jigsaw or Cross Saw and Drill

Quick Wood and Apoxie Sculpt

Snap In Socket & Cord (Can be found at in Guelph, Ont.)

4 Round Wooden Knobs


Sandpaper or Sanding Sponge

Paint – Colour of Your Choice"



First and hardest step is the design. I measure the gourd at its widest point with a tape measure and then divide by seven. (This number can vary according to how large or small the gourd is and how many hearts you want.) Mark with a pencil at each point, so that will give seven hearts around centre area. Then at the top of gourd measure again and divide by seven and mark with a pencil. With a cut out heart or stencil, draw a heart shape at all the points. Draw the hearts on like the end of strings. Now is the time to decide where you want the cut line. All I did was make a wavy line around the gourd. It can be straight, zigzag - what ever you prefer.



Now is the time to cut the gourd following the cut line around the middle. I used a jigsaw and just choose a starting point. Cut around and finish at the starting point. Once open, clean out all the inside pulp and seeds. Drill a hole at the rear of lamp, not on the bottom but more on the side near the bottom. The  gourd I used for this tutorial had a natural hole most likely caused by a cucumber beetle. If this is the case you can either fill that hole with Quick Wood or use the hole for the cord to come through. I used the natural hole and just as a precaution I reinforced around the hole with Quick Wood .This is a thinner gourd, which is ideal for lamps as it is easier to drill plus it will reflect more light through drilled area.



With 3 round wood knobs make some feet. Place them evenly apart on the bottom of the gourd and secure with Apoxie Sculpt. Turn the gourd over and push down gently. This will level the feet to the gourd. On the top piece of the lamp, place 1 round wood knob for the handle. All the knobs will need time to dry - anywhere from 12 - 24 hours.


Bottom & Top of Lamp Coated With Gesso

Sand any repair work and paint the interior and the bottom, both inside and out, with Gesso. Let dry.



To add the electric power plug, unscrew the nuts and take the wires off the light socket. From the outside of the gourd put the wires through the bottom of the hole. Connect the wire to the socket like it was before being undone. Take the bottom washers off the bottom of the light socket. With Apoxie Sculpt secure the light socket into the middle of the gourd base. Reattach the outer cylinder and make flush with the top of socket. Let dry.



We are now ready to make the cover. Using an engraver or Dremel with carbide bit, start drilling holes on the sketched lines approximately 1/4 inch apart or a half of centimetre apart. I use the thickest drill bit I have.  Go crazy, have fun; it is very easy to do. Push the bit in firmly and then move on to the next one.



Once all the holes are done prime with Gesso. Then paint your colours. I recommend doing colour that matches your bedroom. I call this lamp " The Mood Setter” Put in a 15 Watt round light bulb (it is round like a ball & will reflect even light) Now you are done.  The light may stay on all night with no worries.


To see more of Lois’s lamps and carvings please go to her Picturetrails. click here.


Thank you Lois. This beautiful lamp would be a

special gift for anyone year round.

Did You Know?


The history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? To learn more click here.

 Thumbs Up for this New Tool Kit!


Jim Widess, owner of The Caning Shop, has come out with a great Gourd Tool Kit which includes all three specially designed power tools for the gourd crafter. Inside a sturdy tool case, you'll have the Gourd Saw with 6 saw blades, the Gourd Drill with an assortment of 6 engraving cutters, the Gourd Sander with 6 sanding sponges, and a powerful 15V AC-DC Transformer. A pleasure to use and with the case it is easy to keep your workspace organized and neat. For more details click here.

A few years ago Random Acts of Kindness started off as a one-day event. It is amazing how even a simple compliment or act of kindness can change a person’s day and sometimes even their life. Now the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has developed a very effective program, which is used in both schools and in the community. On their website there are newsletters, graphics, testimonials and more.

To learn more click here.


Homer and Royal are dreaming of warm summer play days


It will be March and winter will almost be over here in the North! This issue we are going to travel to the warmth of New Zealand to visit Helen Bovet, who is presently growing a healthy crop of gourd plants. We will be featuring Steve Genereaux, a successful artist who left the corporate life to pursue his dreams. Add in an interesting tutorial by Ontario artist Mavis Wade, gourd sightings, trivia and more. Until then, be generous with your random acts of kindness; it will make you feel good too! ….Pam Grossi & Peter Bell


Haying At Northern Dipper – The 2nd Cut of The Season

Back issues of our newsletter Gourd Fever are on our Website. If you have missed any issues there are some interesting tutorials and grow information you may want to check out.


PS If you have any stories or ideas that you would like to contribute to this newsletter please send to


Volume 2, Number 12 


In this issue

Feb Is Seed Month at Northern Dipper!


Monthly Specials


The Mystery of Seed Germination


Featured Artist - Lois Dean


Tutorial: "How To Make A Valentine's Gourd Lamp" by Lois Dean


Review of Jim Widess's New Tool Kit!


Gourd Sightings & Trivia


“Dolphin Dance” “ by Gita Landwehr

“Peace Vessel”  by Gita Landwehr



“Chocolate Container” by Gita Landwehr

Gita Landwehr is an accomplished artist in many mediums. Her works have been shown in many solo and group exhibitions in the US and in Europe. Most recently, Gita has also added gourds to her repertoire of artistic expression. To view her gourd art and paintings click here.


Ornament by Pam Hughes

Geometric Design by Pam Hughes


Lamp With Fish Design by Pam Hughes

Pam Hughes has worked professionally as a scriber with maps and surveys and as a layout artist. In the 90’s she began decorating the gourds she was growing. Because Pam wants her designs to be as exact as possible, each piece can take days, or even weeks, to create. To see more of Pam’s work click here.

 "WIND" by Lois Dean

 This is called a stone finish. First paint the whole gourd a dark colour & then sponge 2 or 3 lighter colours dabbing lightly all around.

Lois Dean's Silver Gourd Teapot

Halloween Goblin - The kids loved it


Queen With Crown

(The above 5 photos are the work of Lois Dean)


 Pattern Sketched On With Pencil. This is the front of the lamp.
Back of Lamp - Notice the cut line around the middle of the gourd & the bug hole.
Cut Gourd
Adding feet to the gourd
Secure Light Socket in the middle of the gourd.
Lamp Before Painting
Happy Valentines!

"Apache Basket Lady"
Robert Rivera is one of the most well known gourd artists in the U.S. and is famous for his innovative and creative use of the gourd to replicate the ancient southwest cultures he loves so much. To view click here. 

3 Tools In One Kit



Gourd Saw


Gourd Drill

  Gourd Sander

  Gourd sightings and trivia

Bob Marley was presented on the Biography Channel the other night. From humble beginnings in Jamacia Bob Marley became an international figure. Yet he did not ever forget where he came from. Of course it was gourd shakers that were spotted. To learn more about this fabulous musician click here.

Fish Pond at Northern Dipper Farm

Published by Northern Dipper Enterprises
Northern Dipper Farm
1666 Villa Nova Road
RR1 Wilsonville, Ontario
N0E 1Z0 Canada
(519) 443-5638