In This Issue: We are pleased to introduce Debbie Wilson, an artist who incorporates her love of basketry and gourds into art that is both colorful and filled with a wild array of wonderful texture. Containers and vessels plus wearable art fills her portfolio much to the delight of art lovers. Please welcome Debbie Wilson in this summertime issue of Gourd Fever.
The mailbag is bursting at the seams this month with some very interesting letters. One was from our old friend Hal Sager. Hal is an award-winning mask-maker and his masks are found in collections around the world. It was a lot of fun getting caught up with him once again.
There are also a couple of letters about growing gourds..."We are deep into flowering season now" writes Anna Jacobs "but I already have trellised gourds that are going to be very heavy. Should I just leave them?" Don't worry Anna, we have the answer to this and more!
There is the usual trivia to keep you entertained along with some great photos. Take a break and spend some time delving into the wonderful world of art and gourds. First up - our featured artist Debbie Wilson, owner of Artbasgo.
Debbie Wilson: The Woman Behind Artbasgo (Art, Baskets and Gourds)
Debbie Wilson has dedicated her life to art in one way or another. As a child, she possessed that artist's curiosity, particularly with nature and all that it offered. Always attracted to texture Debbie was a collector of many things; one being baskets. At a young age she began to weave baskets herself and by the time she reached adulthood she was gaining the reputation as being a superior basket maker.
Art classes and frequent trips to museums and cultural events as a kid gave her that sense of art history and the use of various mediums. Debbie loved art and she loved learning. Her future in the arts was inevitable.
In college Debbie majored in art education with an emphasis in ceramic pottery. She ended up teaching art for 23 years, K-12 grades in public and private schools. Now retired from the school system, she still teaches many classes in basketry, gourd carving, weaving on gourds and various textile arts. Her class room is now at gourd gatherings, local university adult community colleges, basket guilds and at local art associations and co-ops.
It is obvious when looking at Debbie's art that she loves the tactile qualities various materials present. She states that she tries to incorporate texture as much as possible into her work. Some of her favorite art (on a personal level) is African for the vivid colors, use of naturals and designs.
She also loves Japanese art for the complexities and reputation of design. Debbie follows up by saying that she finds it amazing how many cultures overlap in design and how art is like a newspaper representing the times that we have lived in.
Two decades have passed since Debbie picked up her first gourd. At first she just wove on them because that was all she knew how to do but her sons opened a new door by giving her a Dremel kit. It changed her life allowing her to pursue techniques that she could only dream about before.
There were not many carving classes back then and there was no Internet so Debbie was forced to developed her own style which was the best thing that could have happened. She does intaglio carving, chip carving and deep shaped carving depending on what her idea is. Sometimes she combines all three styles; sometimes only one is all that is necessary.
In her art you can see wonderful colors and patterns. The beauty of her work lies in the composition and the pure naturalness of the piece as a whole.
Currently Debbie is kept busy with teaching gourd classes in gourd art, weaving, and mixed media painting across several southern states. In the last few years she has started to exhibit her gourd art; sometimes a bit of a challenge but as you know we grow with challenges.
She does four to five fine craft shows a year which she loves as she gets to talk to many people about gourds and her art. Since her retirement from teaching public school she has talked to several garden clubs across SC about gourds and baskets. Forever the gourd ambassador Debbie states "I think I have personally recruited about a dozen gourd heads!"
Debbie has been married for over 40 years and throughout those years she and her husband have had a dream that they just recently fulfilled. They opened a restaurant which features local food and work from local artisans. They have classes once a month on various art media which is very popular. They live in Travelers Rest, SC and enjoy the foothills of the mountains along with their 3 children and 5 grandchildren. So if you are travelling that way make sure to stop by for an excellent dinner and some art. It will be worth it!
Out Of The Mailbag
Hi Carolyn and Linda,
I get your "e" mail newsletters and enjoy the large variety of art you feature. I myself had an article years ago in your newsletter. (Issue 35)
I am enclosing a photo of a gourd mask that I entered into the juried show at the Casa Grande gourd festival in February of this year. (2016)
My entry "Deer Dancers" won 3 blue ribbons, including the best of Master's division.
The creation included a deer skull with antlers surrounded by 4 masks. It shows a variety of materials and different ways to fit and create a grouping of gourds. In addition to all the materials, (leather, etc) there are over 500 feathers. Most of these feathers are individually installed one at a time.
Below is a photo of a commissioned piece that I worked on with my wife Jane who is an artist as well. This 8 foot sculpture consists of one of my masks and a deer and elk skin body. The leg area are 4 inch square tiles by Jane.
You can see my other work on my website at: http://www.hjsager.com/index.html
Thanks, Hal Sager
It is real pleasure to hear from you. I can see on your website that you have been very busy since the last time we talked. Your masks are amazing...so detailed ...we have always been big fans of yours!
Your award winning mask with the skull is incredible. I am afraid that this small photo up above does not do it justice. It is shown much better on your website. If people click on the photo on your website it is enlarged and that is where you can see true magnificence of it.
Please keep in touch...we love to hear what people are up to and see the art they are creating. Have a wonderful summer Hal. Carolyn and Linda
Hi Carolyn, I got creative with my last two gourds this weekend. I was busy - I even did a huge amount of work out in the yard as it was so beautiful out there.
I was hoping that your gourds would be ready soon so I can order some. My daughter called the other day and asked "Have you been gourding?" You have probably heard that before but I found it very funny. Have a great week and please drop me a line when the gourds are ready.
Best regards, Suzanne D.
Hi Suzanne, Nice to hear from you. That snail is very realistic; I can almost see it slowly making its way across the table! Regarding the gourds: We have lots. Just put in your order and we will send them your way.Thanks once again for writing and sending in the photo. Carolyn
The world is quickly changing due to clear cutting our forests and urban sprawl, climate change, drought and pollution along with many other factors. It is one thing to read about these events and quite another to hear them.
On the June 7th episode of The Current (CBC) Bernie Krause, a sound scape ecologist, described his decades of work recording the sounds of nature in a large variety of different environments. He would return to the same places and throughout the years has noted how quiet it is becoming.
Here is a link into this segment. It is shocking but not surprising. To hear it click on the Listen button under the photo. To read the transcript click on Full Episode
Looking Ahead: September 2016
We are honored to have with us, in the September issue of Gourd Fever, artist Frank Williams. Frank is the owner of Gourd-Geous and that is an apt description of his art. Frank's gourds and skulls are found in collections around the world and are very much in demand. On a personal level Frank has led a very interesting life and we know you will be just as inspired as we are.
We are busy with our full workshop schedule and hope to see you there. We are also busy out in our garden pollinating and pruning vines. For more information on gourd growing check out our website (Main Page) under Gourd Fever Back Issues - Numbers 97 - 103. It will answer most of your questions.
Also on our website (Main Page) we have a section under Gourd Art called Submit Your Art! This is a selling venue where artists can send in a photo and get it posted on our website. You determine the price and you will be responsible for shipping the art to the buyer. For details just give us a call or drop us a line.
Looking ahead to September - the last whisper of summer, the favorite month of the year for many. Summer consists of holidays, day trips to the beach, late nights and magic.Take some time now to relax and enjoy yourself. Remember what Sam Keene once said "Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability."
So until next time take life to the fullest. Whether it's trying a new style in your art or entering a half-marathon make sure you challenge yourself. Most importantly have fun. See you soon...Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
PS If you have any stories, ideas or photos that you would like to share please send to firstname.lastname@example.org