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

  Above: Dogs by Dawn Vavra 

In This Issue: When introducing this month's featured artist it would be safe to say that Dawn Vavra plays by a different drum. A self-taught artist Dawn spent years working with glass and had a glass studio on Gabriola Island off the West Coast. She then discovered gourds and has not looked back. Her style is unique and possesses a simplicity that will keep the viewer wanting more. Please welcome Dawn Vavra, an artist that is both versatile and inspirational.
Below: A wood- burning by Dawn Vavra  
We all love to set a mood in our homes and this month's tutorial will fill the bill. This month we have an easy to follow tutorial on how to make a beautiful beaded gourd lamp. Just  fair warning; they are addictive and when your friends and family see your finished lantern, you are going to be very busy filling their requests. We are also offering workshops, beaded lamps included, so be sure to check out our schedule for dates. For details click here:
Below: Beaded Gourd Lamp 
We have lots of mail and trivia including a few gourd sightings in a good music video. So pull up a chair and get are entering the wonderful world of Gourd Fever. 

Dawn Vavra: In The Chaos Solutions Will Be Found!

Dawn Vavra is a West Coast gal who spent her first 30 years in Victoria. The next 30 were spent up island in Nanaimo. Currently she lives in Saskatchewan with her husband, daughter, two horses and a dog. For those of you unfamiliar with the province of Saskatchewan it is located on the prairie landscape, a place with a big sky which holds extraordinary beauty and where, according to Saskatchewan standards, your yard can consist of 14 acres and be considered small!
Stepping back it was the years on the coast that influenced the artist Dawn is today. She remembers as a young student wood-burning First Nations masks and years later, when she discovered gourds, she quickly realized that gourds and the wood of the  masks were very similar. She concluded that gourds would be a perfect fit for what she had been looking for.
Art has always played a big part in Dawn's life. As a child she was a daydreamer and using pens, crayons and pastels to record everything around her. In high school she had an art teacher who introduced her to many mediums including copper, fabric, yarn, wood and glass.  
Before gourds glass was the medium Dawn loved to work with. For nine years she worked with leaded and copper glass using her own patterns. Windows were her speciality and the sequencing of each step left her with a feeling of accomplishment and pride.
Dawn has worked in glass carving (sand blasting) and slumping glass too. Mosaics followed and for several years she enjoyed making large framed murals and table tops using tiny tesserae glass tiles.
She has experimented with dying her own fabrics and has quilted wall hangings which was a disaster. Working on a loom weaving large wall hangings was fun too and turned out not too bad. She has  worked with primary school children illustrating "big books" and charts for various projects. She still works with the wee ones but when at home her primary focus is gourds.
When asked about her individual style Dawn states that she believes her style, if she has one, changes with the medium. She elaborates by saying that her style has evolved as she has played and experimented with different techniques over the years.
Her husband has been incredible through this journey of self  expression and has encouraged her as she immerses herself in a myriad of ideas. At times Dawn gets frustrated and at other times, experiences moments of pure joy. The process is both creative and productive and Dawn has learned that in the chaos you will find solutions.
Dawn believes that art is about emotion and whether we are creating it or experiencing it, art allows us to feel all the emotions we hold inside. It can portray good and evil, joy and sadness. It makes us laugh and cry and most importantly think. A community without art would become old and dried up...a husk of what it could and should be. 
When not working with gourds Dawn is a volunteer teacher's aid two days a week in her daughter's all day kindergarten class. She also illustrates posters and books for the school. At home she lives with her husband who is a builder of fine furniture, beautiful door harps and large indoor water features. Dawn schmoozes with her daughter's prized Friesian and Gypsy Vanner horses on a daily basis and when her very spoiled and well-loved Doberman doesn't demand attention, she will squeeze in a few hours to work on her gourd art. Life is good to Dawn out there on the Saskatchewan prairie and we cannot wait to see what her creative juices will bring forward in the future.

Tutorial: Setting The Mood With A Beaded Gourd Lamp

Since we've picked up these beautiful (hole-less) Turkish beads I have been addicted to making these amazing gourd lamps. The designs and colour combinations are endless and a simple project can lead to hours of playful fun.  
1.) Make a hole at the bottom of the gourd; large enough for you to clean the gourd.
2.) Make a hole at the back of the gourd where you will be connecting your snap-on light. I use a 1" hole cutter for a quick, clean cut but you can use your gourd saw as well.
3.) Using a pencil, sketch out your design making swirls and curls. Once you are happy with it, start drilling your holes for the beads. Keep in mind as to where you want the 6 mm and the 8 mm holes to sit as you will be using 2 different drill bits for each size.
4.) Once you have all the holes drilled erase your pencil marks; colour and seal the gourd. Once this is done you will be ready to insert the beads.
5.) If the holes have been drilled properly the beads will fit in snugly without glue. If you have beads that seem loose just dab some white glue into the hole.
6.) Once all the beads are in place, take a small drill bit and drill lots of tiny holes around the beads. This will allow clear light to shine around the coloured lights from the beads.
For this tutorial, the top and bottom beads are 8 mm blue. The swirls are 6 mm green and light blue beads.  
To view these hole-lessTurkish beads click here:
For dried gourds click here:

Out Of The Mailbag

Hi Carolyn and Linda, I can't remember as to who I was talking to but here are 3 of the gourds, from my 1st order, that I painted. This is my first time painting gourds, they may not be perfect but given my age (80), I think they turned out pretty well. Barbara

Hi Barbara, These birdhouses are beautiful. Thank you for sending these photos in. With spring quickly approaching we are sure they will inspire many people to get out their paint brushes or wood burners and get a few houses ready for the birds that will be returning for the summer. Carolyn

Hi Carolyn and Linda, Just a quick email to thank you for the wonderful workshop you put on April 23. The theme was Beaded Light and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am when I turn my lamp on every night after the sun goes down. I had great fun - you were so warm and friendly and it was nice to sit around a table with so many like-minded people. I will definitely be attending more workshops in the future. 
Before I sign off I would like to thank you for the informative newsletter you send out. I have read it for years and I love the featured artists and everything else you present. There is something in there for everyone. See you again soon. MJ

Gourd Sighting

In researching our Music Pick of the Month we came across this video with a couple of cool woman who form the group Rising Appalachia. The song is Medicine and throughout there are several gourd sightings. To view click here:

"Other Stuff" - The Scoop On Organic Toothpaste and Other Tooth Products

We are quickly becoming more conscious about not only what we put in our bodies but also what we put on our bodies. We are careful to buy soaps, shampoos, household cleaners and detergents that are non-toxic and good for the environment. But what about toothpaste and mouthwash? Have you thought about this?
When we clean our teeth the products we use are absorbed through our tongues, teeth, gums and cheeks. Organic tooth products have natural flavouring and herbal extracts without the chemicals found in brand names such as sodium lauryl sulfate, a synthetic detergent compound which promotes foaming.
Organic tooth products are more expensive than "regular" toothpaste but it does come on sale quite often. To save money you can make your own basic toothpaste easily enough. Mix 2/3 cup baking soda, 1 tsp of fine sea salt, 1 - 2 tsp peppermint extract or 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil and enough filtered water to make a paste. Store in a small, glass jar. For other toothpaste recipes click here:

Looking Ahead: July 2016

We are currently travelling the world (via the Internet) communicating with some amazing artists. Every artist we have featured to date brings their own individuality and style and whether it is someone working at their kitchen table after the kids have gone to bed, or someone whose art commands thousands of $, it is an honour to know these creative and special people. We are going to surprise you in the July issue of Gourd Fever so stay tuned. 

The last few weeks have been rough here in Ontario with the tail end of winter making a few last swipes at the can. But now the tulips are coming up and the planted gourd seeds are sitting in a sunny window. They are coming up at a rapid rate and at May end they will be planted out to start their short journey of flowering and developing gourds. By July there will be lots of gourds and you will be busy pruning and tying up. Send in questions about growing and we will be happy to answer them.  
Don't forget to check out our workshop schedule...believe me, there is something for everyone! Take advantage of the Group Workshop Special as you will save money and just have a blast with your friends at Northern Dipper Farm. See you there.
Until next time relish the warm breezes of summer and most importantly take a few minutes every day to relax! Life can be so fantastic...let's enjoy it! 

                          Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond





Volume 12, Number 120 


In this issue

Dawn Vavra:  In The Chaos Solutions Will Be Found!
The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper 
Tutorial: Setting The Mood With A Beaded Gourd Lamp  

Out Of The Mailbag, Gourd Sightings & Trivia

   The Bulletin Board


Workshop Update
The schedule is up with dates running through to October. The themes are exciting and the classes are filling up fast.
Register today. 
When Booking A Workshop...
Keep in mind that if you book 2 workshops on the same day you will receive 10% off! 
Bring A Friend Special
From March 1 - May 31 Bring a friend and receive one workshop at 1/2 price. 
Group Workshop Special
Get a group of 5 or more friends together and get the fifth workshop for free! 
FedEx -
Our Preferred Way of Shipping 
Great news! We will now be using FedEx which means that shipping out west will be much more economical.
We will also be able to offer reduced rates within fantastic when shipping large gourds! 

Dawn Vavra

"Gourds are a natural fit for me. They are an endless source of inspiration and are a wonderful medium to work with. They have the potential to be singular and individual, sometimes funny or sad and always beautiful."  
"I love carving and wood-burning gourds. I use a Razortip burner starting with three fixed tip pens. With time I have collected eight more. The initial three were all I used for a long time and were all I really needed." 
 "I spent six years living on Gabriola Island (off Nanaimo on Vancouver Island) and it was there where I opened my glass studio and worked in the Artist's Gallery Tour. Gabriola has a well-established and eclectic art community."
"In describing my years on Gabriola I have to say: It's not only home to possibly the highest concentration of artists in Canada, but it's also home to artists in almost every discipline: painting, pottery, jewelry, woodcarving, stained glass and music. Not to mention writers in every genre from mystery and science fiction to children's books and nonfiction."
"There was even one instrument maker who specialized in violin bows for the Royal Family of Denmark. Talk about a creative hive. It was definitely a rich existence and a great learning experience for me." 
"There are things in this life that fill me with joy and a feeling of fulfillment...things that make me sing inside. A long empty stretch of road filled with details that make it not seem empty. Everywhere I look there is inspiration."
"I do get frustrated at times with the fact at how long it takes me to get things right. I am self-taught and can spend hours trying for an expression or correct angle. This, my friends, is my challenge!" 
Words of Advice For New Artists 
"Keep doing new things. Each will teach you something. If you are lucky enough to attend workshops do but if that is not an option, teach yourself through books, the Internet or by joining gourd groups via the Internet."
"In a nutshell find the art you love. Experiment with different mediums; you will find the one that talks to you. Be patient. Relax...let what is inside you express itself." 

Tutorial: Beaded Lamp

Basic tools required:
1.) A clean gourd of your choice. For this tutorial a Martin gourd was used. 
2.) 19/64 wood drill bit. (for 8 mm beads)
3.) 7/32 wood drill bit. (for 6 mm beads)
4.) Bead colours of your choice (in 6 mm and 8 mm sizes)
5.) Snap on light fixture.
6.) Memory inks.
7.) Drill 

In Turkey gourd lamps are popular...make your own to see just how beautiful they can be! 

Out Of The Mailbag 

Hello, I purchased some seeds last year and the plants grew huge but yielded few gourds. Hoping for a better yield this season. Joseph W.

Hi Joseph, Thank you for your order and email. It is frustrating to have huge plants but few gourds but rest assured, this apparent problem can be fixed with ease with two steps.
While growing, if left unchecked, vines can reach incredible lengths. To encourage gourd development, once the main vine has reached around 10 feet, cut the end off of it. This will encourage the lateral or side vines to grow. It is on the side vines where the female flowers are and where the gourds will grow.
In order to get gourds those female flowers have to be pollinated. Help Mother Nature along - go out in the evening with a paint brush and do some hand pollinating. Dab one male flower and then a female flower and before you know it you will have lots of gourd action happening.
Tip: The female flowers have little gourds underneath them; the male flowers do not. Some nights there will be lots of females, other nights not so many.
For more information go into our website and click on Past Newsletters. Issues 28 thru 31 has lots of growing information. I hope this will help for a more bountiful crop this year. Carolyn 

       In A Dog's Life


Last week a fight broke out at our local dog park. In the group were large and small dogs and some could have been seriously hurt. The worst part was that it could have easily been prevented if the dog owners themselves had some training.
The # 1 rule at a dog park is to keep moving. Don't stand around just inside the gate and talk while your dogs mill around in a tight little group. Walk in a large, slow circle, let your dog explore and socialize; they will love it and so will you!
Here are a few other tips to ensure that you and your pooch have safe, healthy walk.
1.) Watch your dog. The mood of a dog can change from fun to nasty in a split second. Watch your dog at all times and watch the other dogs he plays with. If you detect trouble be quick to move your dog out of the situation.
2.) Reinforce good behavior in your dog. Don't let your dog jump up on people. Many people are nervous around groups of dogs or large dogs. 
Don't let your dog mount other dogs. It is not polite so go and pull him off and teach him that it is not allowed.
3.) Pick up after your dog. There is nothing worst than seeing large piles of dog poo at the park or anywhere else for that matter. Clean up after your dog... carry extra bags for other owners who have forgotten theirs or who need a reminder.
Remember there are people out there who do not agree with dog parks or off-leash areas. Every time a law/by-law is broken it gives them reason to complain. If enough people complain the laws will change. Always be considerate and courteous with other people and their pets.
4.) If your dog is aggressive stay home! Nothing can clear out a dog park faster than an aggressive animal. If you do come to the dog park make sure to keep your animal on a strong leash. Everyone (including the other dogs) will appreciate it.

Music Pick Of The Month


 The Artists: Indicator Indicator

The Songs:
 January First
Your Cocoon

 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