Christmas Gourds by Chris Bell

Welcome to the year-end issue of Gourd Fever 2017. Today we will be taking a glimpse into the life and work of artist Chris Bell. Chris has been dabbling in the arts her entire life and a few years ago, as a Canadian snow bird, she discovered gourds in Yuma, Arizona. After attending a Gourd Festival she was hooked and now, many years later, reveals that she is still learning and very much enjoying the art of the gourd.

As the Christmas season approaches we will be presenting some beautiful art that we found on Pinterest. Pinterest, and other sites on the Internet, provide a weath of information and ideas so please take a few minutes of your day to go exploring. It will be well worth it. 

Note: The following photo was taken from Pinterest and was created by Nancy of Nancy's Gourds and Gifts. Her art can be found at The Old Bag Factory in Goshen, IN.

We also have our gourd sightings, a music pick and trivia. In our segment "Other Stuff", we look at the happiest people around the globe. What is it that makes them happy? We will delve into Denmark's philosophy and that everyday word hygge...a word that other nations should perhaps adopt!

A Glimpse Into The Life and Art of Chris Bell



Chris Bell resides in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada but every winter makes her escape to Yuma, Arizona. It was here that Chris saw her first gourds and like many, believed all you could do with them is make birdhouses. A little later, just by chance, she heard about a Gourd Festival being held in Casa Grande. It was here where she was blown away by the versatility and beauty of the hard-shell gourd.


Throughout Chris's life art has always been in the background. She began with sewing and since that time, has worked her way through tole painting, 3D art, scrapbooking, card making and other paper arts. Now she brings together all those skills she has experimented with and produces some interesting, one of a kind gourd art.

Craft shows fill Chris's agenda at this time of year. They are a lot of work and involves building up inventory, travel and time away from home. They also take a lot of energy but at the end of the day are a lot of fun. The shows she attends are: 

Fall Into Christmas - Lethbridge, Alberta

Whistlestop - Moose Jaw, Saskatchwan

Exhibition and Stampede Craft Show - Medicine Hat, Alberta

Cream of the Crop -  Regina, Saskatchwan

Chris's long term plans are to just continue on for as long as she can and to learn new things as she goes along. Chris leads a full, happy life with her husband of 50 years and when she is not working on her gourd art, she can found out in the garden with her little dog always at her side. During the cold Canadian winter months Chris can be found soaking up the rays in Yuma, Arizona.

Christmas Gift Ideas



This Christmas Deer Tree Ornament (Egg Gourd) was found on ETSY. The artist who created this ornament, and the following Celtic Dolphin Christmas Tree Ornament (Egg Gourd), is Jenn Avery. Her company is JRA Gourd Art and here is a link to her site.




Here is a example of a Partridge In A Pear Tree. This would be a beautiful gift for someone on your list. It was submitted by Debbie Brown Ratliff and was found on Pinterest.



No house is complete at Christmas without a gourd snowman or a Santa. If you have children, these cheerful fellows will quickly become favorites. They can be found on are the links.


"Other Stuff" -  Global Happiness Rankings In 2017



The World Happiness Report was first published in April 2012 in support of the UN High Level Meeting on happiness and well-being. It is considered a measure of social progress and the goal of public policy.


The 2017 report has now come out and Norway is in the #1 position this year. Denmark, who has been #1 for the past 3 years, is a close second falling just before Iceland and Switzerland. Canada is # 7 and the U.S. is # 14. They have some work to do.


Denmark is a country that has long fascinated me. It is small (43,560 square kilometres) with a population of 5,707,251(2016). It excels in the areas of design, architecture, farming, green technology and pharmaceuticals. The Danish lifestyle is simple and is obvious in the word "hygge" which expresses the Danish ritual of enjoying life's simple pleasures.


Hygge is pronounced HUE-gah and it is used in every day language. For example, if two people were talking about a gathering where many friends were, one would likely say it was hyggelig. More than lovely, kind of like a hug of positive warm emotions all rolled into one word.


Hyggelig is sitting by a fire on a cold winter's night sipping hot chocolate, reading a good book or petting a dog. It is walking with friends with snow gently falling all around or Christmas with family and friends. Hygge is being kind to yourself and to others.


In summary, ToveMaren Stakkestad said it best, "Hugge was never meant to be translated, it was meant to be felt." On that note take a moment and give a hug to those around you in a most hyggelig kind of way. Now that's hygge!

Gourd Talk Pops Up Everywhere!

Looking Ahead: March 2018


It is the end of another year and within mere weeks we will be turning the page and welcoming 2018. We would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people beginning with our wonderful featured artists. We are heading into our fourteenth year of publishing this online newsletter and we can honestly say that with every issue we get as excited as if it were our first. It is a fabulous experience meeting the creative people who grace the pages of Gourd Fever and we want them to know how much we appreciate them sharing their lives and their art with us and our readers.

We would also like to thank our readership. This newsletter is sent out to a few thousand people around the world and it makes me smile when I think of how a hardshell gourd can bring so many people together. 


Have a safe and peaceful holiday season. Take some time to help someone who is not as fortunate as yourself, pay forward a kind moment that someone showed you when you needed it, be sincere in all you do. If we all do our part in our own small way, 2018 will be an outstanding year. See you in March! Lori Chalmers


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


Volume 13, Number 128 


In this issue:

A Glimpse Into The Life and Art of Chris Bell 

The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper

Christmas Gift Ideas 

Out of the Mailbag

Gourd Sightings and Trivia

  The Bulletin Board 




Hello everyone,

If you will remember we moved from the Barrie area to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The Sault or the Soo, as it is known, is one of the oldest settlements in North America. For at least 2000 years people have lived beside the St. Mary's River including Jesuit Missionaries, explorers, voyageurs, artists, soldiers and traders. Outdoor activities are plentiful including fishing, hunting and many types of festivals.


As with any move it takes a bit of time to get settled. One item on our to-do-list is unpacking the 40 foot trailer full of gourds pictured above. We have lots of orders to fill and will be making that our #1 priority. Workshops and other gourd related activities will be put on the back burner for now.


Please feel free to send us your orders. We look forward to hearing from you. Lori   

 Chris Bell

"I get inspired by pictures and other people's work. If I am painting wildlife I try to be as realistic as possible with both the colours and the details."



Words Of Advice For New Artists

"Take a class or classes before investing a great deal of money into this craft. If it turns out to be something you are really interested in keep perservering as it takes a lot of practice. I have been working with gourds for 8 - 10 years now and am still learning on a regular basis."



"My techniques have changed over time. The mediums I use such as ink and acrylics all changed and I had to adapt my art accordingly."


"Attending the Gourd Festivals really helps expand my horizon as there are always lots of new products and techniques to try. People are very good at sharing knowledge and the sheer enthusiasm shared by like- minded people make the festival days fly by!"




"I do four large craft fairs each year. I do not sell into galleries or have a website. I do not teach but I do help out friends so that we can share ideas and work on projects together."


 Christmas Gift Ideas 

Bells by Nancy of Nancy's Gourds and Gifts (From Pinterest)

A Snowman On A Small Birdhouse Mini Gourd, also by Nancy.


Above are two Christmas gourd lamps which will set the mood during the festive season. The first is sold through Gourd Art Istanbul and the second is sold through Kabajur. Both can be found on ETSY.

For the bird lovers, and I know there are many, we have two lovely examples of winter birds.

The first is that most welcome visitor the cardinal and the second; the humorous and happy little Chick-A-Dee. These were  on Etsy and can be found on the website of Winter Wolf Banes.

 Gourd Sighting

 These gourds were spotted in a grocery store in the Produce Dept. They are popular in the fall as the shapes and colors are so beautiful. Thank you Gloria for sending these photos in.



In A Dog's Life 



Pet Safety Tips For The Holidays


Christmas can be a happy and joyous time but if you have pets there are certain things you should be aware of. Here are a few tips to consider:


1.) Tinsel - When I was a kid the tree was always loaded with tinsel. It was very pretty shimmering in the colored lights but if you have pets you may want to think twice before using it. If eaten tinsel can block the intestines and surgery is the only procedure that will rectify the situation. Bad news for both dogs and cats, not to mention your bank account, so cancel the tinsel...there are lots of other options available.


2.) Lights - If your dogs or cats are chewers place your lights high on the tree. If they munch on a string of lights they will get a nasty shock and it may possibly kill them.


3.) Holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are poisonous to dogs. Place these items high out of reach, especially if you have a pup or cat who likes plant matter.



4.) Burning candles - Need I say more!


5.) Currents, raisons, sultanas and grapes are highly toxic to dogs and can lead to kidney failure. So keep those delicious mince tarts and Christmas puddings out of reach.


6.) Chocolate is also highly toxic and some dogs are drawn to chocolate like a magnet. Keep out of reach.  

Music Pick of the Month


The Artist: Vance Joy

The Songs: Georgia


Published by Pam Grossi Victoria, BC, V8W 2M7


Northern Dipper 
Sault Ste. Marie
Ontario, Canada
By appointment only.

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

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