New Owners At Northern Dipper!

Welcome to the first 2017 issue of Gourd Fever. We are starting off with the news that Northern Dipper has new owners. They are Lori and John Chalmers and they are excited about their new venture. Following are a few words from Lori.


Pictured above: Lori and John 


Hello everyone, 

To begin I would like to take a moment to thank Carolyn and Linda for this opportunity. Without their guidance and generosity this would not have been possible. They have been simply wonderful throughout this entire process.


I have a long history with Northern Dipper and found that I was inspired every time I visited. There were always new things to see and Carolyn and Linda were both a wealth of information. Always made to feel welcome I hope to carry on that legacy and more.


Let me take this opportunity to introduce myself and my family to you. As you now know, my name is Lori and my husband John, along with my son Jake, Roscoe the dog and Sam the cat, reside in Barrie, Ontario. I am of Metis decent and have been crafting with gourds since I was a teen. It was my Aunt Wendy Barclay of Napanee, Ontario who introduced me to them.


For 20 years my husband John and I have been growing gourds. I have always had a passion for creating gourd art it seems and cannot seem to get enough of them. I, like many of you, love how the gourd speaks to you and lets you know what it is going to be. I will be sharing my art in this newsletter as well as introducing fabulous artists from around the globe. 


In short, I am ecstatic to be taking the reigns of Northern Dipper and can't wait to see what 2017 will bring. The ideas are rapidly perculating in my head and it will be fun seeing where John and I can take Northern Dipper. In the interim please be patient during this transition while we get things worked out. It is all very exciting; a lot of work and invigorating both at the same time! 


Joe The Plumber by Karen Kane

In This issue2016 is over! To some it was a great year and to others, well, they were just happy to cast it aside and march into the year 2017. In the Chinese horoscope 2017 is the Year of the Rooster, May 6 is the Kentucky Derby and the Tour de France will run July 1 - 23.

Here closer to home we plan to appreciate every waking moment this year. It is our intention to spread kindness and tolerance throughout our daily activities and to enrich not only our lives, but others as well.

Welcome 2017, we are ready for you and we suspect it is going to be the best year ever!

To begin the year we are very pleased to have with us Karen Kane, an artist who has designs ranging from the classic through to the quirky. Her imagination is limitless and now, after a lifetime of working as a computer specialist, she has the time to follow her artistic dreams. In addition to this she is lucky enough to work with her son Kevin who is a craftsman in his own right. Please welcome Karen and Kevin; enjoy their art plus their interesting lifestyle.

We also have lots of mail to share, some good winter pet tips and more. So pull up a chair, get cosy and spend some time delving into this January issue of Gourd Fever.

Karen Kane: Simple, Clean Art A Winner! 



In third grade Karen Kane won a prize for a watercolor painting; a fact that reinforced her love for art. Growing up in the Kansas City area there was lots of opportunity for art exploration and as a young child, one of Karen's favorite pastimes at home was designing dresses for her paper dolls. Karen did not follow a formal art career as an adult but she did continue to keep design and creativity foremost in her personal life.  


After a working career as a computer specialist Karen retired. The year was 2008 and this was the year she was introduced to her first gourds. They were growing in her cousin's garden. Karen was intrigued and thought her cousin would be as well so for Christmas she bought her cousin Jim Widess's excellent book The Complete Book of Gourd Carving.


It turned out her cousin's interest level was low but Karen's was not and after briefly thinking about it, she rushed out to get herself a copy. Since that time she has been hooked and to make things even better, it became a family affair. Karen's son Kevin became involved with each playing a major role. Karen creates the designs and her son does the cleaning and cutting. They both do the painting and wood burning.


Although it has been a number of years since Karen picked up her first gourd she is still amazed and excited by the many things that can be done. She began by making simple vases and bowls but since that time has made lamps, purses, wall art, drums and pet beds.

When out walking she draws ideas from both nature or scenes from around town.  Special orders are done as well. One example is a dog bed which has five little portraits of someone's dogs. All five dogs use the bed but Karen didn't know whether it is one at a time or if they all pile in together.

Gourd lampshades happened purely by accident. While out shopping for gourds her son grabbed a huge, heavy green gourd from the wagon. Reaching over Karen had no idea how heavy green gourds can be and promptly dropped it. It cracked along the bottom so of course Karen felt compelled to buy it. As it turned out it dried beautifully and in the end, cried out 'lampshade.'


Karen belongs to an active gourd patch that has many talented artists that share their ideas and techniques. They meet four times a year for a workshop, 'show and tell' and good times. Several of the KC Patch members, including Bill Decker and Marilyn See, have won the Missouri Gourd Artist of the Year Award.


Active in the public eye, Karen's art has been exhibited at several art and craft shows and at the 'Show Me' Gourd Society's annual festival in Springfield, MO. Karen does have a website  but does not sell though that venue due to the cost of shipping large gourds.


Karen's son Kevin took some silversmith classes as a hobby and they both belonged to a rock club while briefly living in Colorado. They were attracted to the sparkling, unusual stones and bought some cutting and polishing tools. From there they started to make their own cabochons from rocks they found during their frequent mountain hikes and from gem and mineral shows. 


They have also visited mines in North Carolina and Colorado to search for precious gemstones to use in their jewellery collection. After moving back to Kansas City and selling the casting machinery, they mainly sell wire wrapped sterling silver pendants.


This is Karen in a very small nutshell. Adventuresome in her love of design along with a thirst for life, Karen is a woman who inspires others through both her art and her own energy. Thank you Karen; it was a pleasure to meet you!    

 Out Of The Mailbag



Merry Snowy Christmas Carolyn and Linda,

Hope the transition is going well. Above is a shot of my harvest shivering in the cold. The skin is shrivelling and is quite bumpy. They look a little like the tomb of the Chinese Army. See you in 2017. Paul E. 


Dear Carolyn and Linda,

It was initially quite a shock to hear you are selling your business and retiring. But once I thought about it I thought about how hard you have worked the past 10 - 11 years and how much retirement is going to suit you. 


I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your excellent service, your high-quality gourds and supplies and the wonderful hours I have spent in your workshop doing classes. I will miss you two and look forward to seeing where the new owner takes Northern Dipper. Enjoy your retirement!

                                        Penny Lamare, Guelph, Ontario

"Other Stuff" - The Beauty of Ice

Art comes in many forms and the art of ice sculpting is gaining international attention throughout many countries around the world. The tools are simple: handsaws, chisels and even chainsaws are used and teams of ice and snow sculpture artists are gathering together and having big competitions to see who is the best. What is left are incredibly gorgeous creations for the rest of us to enjoy. Here are a few examples.


 China's Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

(Photo by


Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival

(Photo by


World Ice Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska

(Photo by Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks)


Winnipeg Snow Sculpture Festival


Kirkenes Snow Hotel - Norway

 Snowdrops On The South Coast (B.C.) 

 Looking Ahead: March 2017

As you can well imagine there are lots of details to take care of when you buy a business. We are in the midst of all this now and will be letting you know more of our plans in March.

Some things will not be changing in regards to this newsletter.  There will be exceptional gourd artists featured every month as well as lots of other gourdly news. We wish you all the best in the upcoming year; good health, a bounty in your garden and pantry and lots of good times.  

                  See you in March, Lori and John Chalmers

(Back issues of our newsletter Gourd Fever are on our Website. Check it out  for art, growing info and other cool stuff!)





Volume 13, Number 124 


In this issue:
Karen Kane: Simple, Clean Art A Winner!

The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper

Out of the Mailbag: Words From Our Readers

Gourd Sightings, Trivia and Other Cool Stuff

  The Bulletin Board




A quote by Charles Ketlerin:

 "Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas and progress."

GROW YOUR OWN GOURDS! Seeds will be available for sale February 15, 2017. 


Growing gourds is relatively easy once you get past the germination stage. They look fabulous when grown along a chain link fence or in a patch of garden that gets full sun and has access to water.


 Gourds can be trellised and mini gourds in hanging pots are a delightful project for kids. 

For seed details click here:




 Gourds are beautiful to grow and can be divided into the 4 seasons. To begin their journey is the planting of the seeds.


April - The first leaves.



May 24 - Planting out the seedlings. 


August - The vines are heavy with fruit.



Winter is the time for patience while the gourds dry.  


Remember, we are only a mouse click away for advice and help.  So check out the seeds on our website and choose a few varieties to try yourself.


Tip: Get them started inside late March-early April and get a head start on your growing gourd season.

 Karen Kane


"My art tends to be more simple, clean, and on the realistic side rather than the whimsical and abstract. I absolutely love animals and they are often featured in my gourds. My son tends to the whimsical designs. I find it easier and faster to wood burn than paint although I do both."

"My most challenging piece was of the embroidered iris pictured below. I drilled hundreds of  holes and used pliers and a thimble to push/pull the needle through. I was pleased with the results but I wouldn't do it again. My fingers were bruised for weeks."

"For the Grecian lady lamp, pictured below, I took a picture of a statue that I have in my living room and transferred it to a half-piece of gourd scrap. I used a dremel, hand files and lots of sandpaper to try to duplicate the designs. I then cut around her and sprayed her with a gloss paint to resemble marble."

"Next I attached a gourd scrap with a slit in it to the inside of the gourd. I sprayed the outside with a stone texture and placed a light inside so that a soft glow highlighted around her in the dark."

"My son Kevin and I also design jewellery. Below is an amethyst necklace which was Kevin's first piece which he designed himself."

"Below is a pendent made from malachite. This stone is used as a   pigment, gemstone and has been a sculptural material for thousands of years. Malachite is said to protect the wearer from accidents and travellers on their journeys."



 Gourd Sighting


My friend has a collection of birds sitting on a windowsill and no bird collection can be complete without a gourd owl. What a lovely sight seeing it nestled among other iron and glass birds.

It's A Dog's Life 

 The winter can be tough on both people and animals alike but dogs feel it more because they are not bundled up in parkas, mitts & scarves.

Puppies and geriatric dogs can be more susceptible to the cold as are dogs with health issues.  Precautions to take includes the following:

- If your dog is allowed to play outside, watch him and bring him in if he starts to whine, shiver or appear anxious.

- Limit how long you walk your dog. When the temperature drops to below freezing your dog will be satisfied with a 15 - 20 minute walk rather than the usual 45 - 60 minutes. 

- Make sure that your stairs and walks are clear, especially if you have an elderly or arthritic dog. 

- Sidewalk ice melters such as salt or calcium chloride are commonly used and they can really irritate your dog's paws. Get some booties and wipe his paws once home with a warm moist towel. 

- Don't leave antifreeze laying around. Animals cannot resist its sweet taste and it is extremely poisonous. If you think your pet has lapped up antifreeze get a Vet's attention immediately.

- If your dog is going to be outside a lot get him a dog house which is just big enough for him to turn around in. Throw in a couple of blankets for extra insulation.

- Lastly make sure there is fresh water available. You may have to get a water bowl heater to keep the ice from forming. Winter water bowls are always a bit of a challenge but it is important.

(Don't forget that the birds need water too!)

Music Pick of the Month


 The Artists:

Jay Malinowski & The Dead Coast

The Songs: Patience Phipps

Seance No 15

To learn more about this band click here: 

  Published by Pam Grossi 

Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7


Northern Dipper 
Simcoe County, Barrie Area Ontario, Canada

Photos or comments...sent them to:

 ©Northern Dipper 2017. All rights reserved. No portion of this newsletter may be used in any form without prior written permission from the authors. 


5376 County Road 56, RR2 • Cookstown, Ontario, L0L 1L0 • Canada • Click here to unsubscribe.