artists, growtips, info & more

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"STAKE HEADS" Designed by  Sylvie Gilbert of

Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.

We know that it is spring when the traffic slows down in front of Sylvie’s house to view these cute gourd heads displayed in her front garden.


  Gourd Water Pipe by Featured Artist Steve Genereaux

This was a 2nd Place Winner at the Canadian Gourd Societies Gourd Fest 2005

In This Issue: This month there is an excellent Box Sale on dried gourds. Be sure to check it out. We are pleased to present two outstanding gourd artists. Both Steve Genereaux and Mavis Wade are very different from each other but they have a common thread – they both love working with gourds. In addition, Mavis has contributed a Tutorial for the bird lovers in the group. We will visit the garden of Helen Bovet, a New Zealander, who both works with and grows gourds. And of course it is March, which brings on the first day of Spring along with other dates that should be remembered. Let's get started now - we have a lot of ground to cover in this issue of Gourd Fever.



This year I am surprised at the number of people that are growing gourds! We have shipped many, many packs of seed and the seed orders continue to come in. Just remember that depending on where you are you will have to start them early (in April) to get enough time in for them to reach maturity, particularily the larger varieties such as African Drum. Don’t start them any earlier than that as you will end up with leggy plants and a root bound pot. Limited Seed Supply Available: First Come - First Served. For details click here.


 Also available is the ND Northern 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 Northern Grow Guide click here.


Half Price Box Sale

 Regular Price $120.00 

Sale Price $60.00

Includes between 7 – 9 varieties with a minimum of 15 gourds per box. (May include Swan, Apple, Wartie, Dippers, Canteen and Minis to name a few) with at least one 10” gourd. Shipped in a 20" x 20" x 24" box. Must be shipped in the month of March. To view Box Sale click here.

Come Visit The Garden of Helen Bovet in Waikato, New Zealand


Helen Bovet in her gourd garden in New Zealand.

The gourd seeds were sent by a friend, Bill, from America. They are Birdhouse and Dipper and also some Luffa. I was notified that the seeds were in the country, by the MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry). They had detained my parcel, due to not knowing the generic and specific names of what these seeds were. I was sent a photocopy of the packets and was not amused!! If I hadn’t replied with in 28 days they would have been destroyed. Our laws are very strict when it comes to bringing in plants, foods etc. However Bill had given me both the names they required, and with a cheque for $19.25, they released them to me.


As we were in the process of buying a new property, I planted the seeds out in a tray in November; normally I sow them directly into the ground. Early January they were planted out.


Admittedly, I hadn’t prepared the soil, as there just hadn’t been time; I just dug a hole and popped them in. I then put calf pen wood shavings around them and a couple of week’s later, hay.



Healthy large gourd plants with lots of flowers

They are now, starting to, fruit up, is that the word? The summer months in New Zealand are officially from Mid October to the end of February. Luckily this summer, we have had warm weather with rain at night, so I have not had to do any watering at all. Our summer temps are, between, 24/33 degrees Celsius, 75.2 F/91.4 F. I live in the Waikato, which is in the centre of the North Island and is a dairy farming area. Farmers are the backbone of New Zealand, because we are the most progressive farmers in the world. Other parts of New Zealand experience snow, but our winter temp are very rarely lower than 3/5 degrees Celsius or 37.4 F/41 F


Gourd growing in New Zealand, is not common, and most people don’t know what you are talking about, when you mention them. We don’t have the interest or craft skills here as is in America and Canada. I hope to change that by running some gourd crafting workshops.


Thank you ever so much Helen for your excellent article. We will check in with you to see how your crop is progressing.


Did You Know?

The Maori in New Zealand used highly decorated incised kow haiw hai patterns on gourd water vessels owned by those of high birth. Gourds belonging to commoners were left plain. Other gourds, cut lengthwise to form an open bowl, were used to receive the afterbirth of a highborn baby. They were similarly decorated with kow haiw hai patterns. To learn more click here or here.

Steve Genereaux – Activist, Artist and Ex-Punk Rocker


Serving Dish by Steve Genereaux. All of Steve’s bowls, ladles and serving dishes are functional and food safe.

Steve Genereaux, owner of Unconventional Art, is an activist, artist and ex-punk rocker with lots of energy to burn. At eight he was holding fund-raisers for Jerry’s Kids in his backyard. After high school he went to work for a printer and after 5 years left to work in the corporate life dealing with quality control issues at the big car plants here in Southern Ontario. All the time he was constantly taking art courses and finally, 3 years ago, he made the decision to do what he loves – to work as an artist once again.


His introduction to gourds was through a friend who had attended a workshop here at Northern Dipper Farm. He states, “ When I saw them and how versatile they could be, the ideas were just racing through my head.” He remembered seeing some gourds in Jamaica; which piqued his interest even more. He signed up for a Basic Gourd Crafting Course.


 “Your Goose Is Cooked”  A Gourd Bowl

Steve creates fabulous bowls and ladles that are food safe. Vases with flowing lines, water pipes and interesting sculpture are all reflective of Steve’s creativity. When talking about art Steve states, “My artistic style comes from a combination of self-teaching, traditional education and informal training in a variety of mediums. Many of my works are the result of a personal aspiration towards positive political change and social justice for all peoples, but sometimes I just step back and create for the sake of aesthetics alone.”


In addition to functional gourd art, Steve also does Limited Edition Prints, Glow Stones, greeting cards and more. Steve is an activist in the medicinal marijuana community and as well, he promotes the use of industrial hemp. To learn more about Steve and Unconventional Art click here. 

Greeting Card (Cropped) “Down The Lane”

Thank you Steve for this wonderful article and for sharing your art. To view Steve’s site “Unconventional Art” click here.

Mavis Wade - Designer, Painter and Gourd Artist


Three necklaces: Made from the gourd bits leftovers

I developed a fascination with gourds about 18 months ago. I had seen a show on television that peaked my interest and led me to the Internet and the availability of gourds in the area. This led me to the Northern Dipper web site. After I received my first gourd order I was hooked. 


My main focus is designing and painting fireplace screens but they are extremely time consuming to complete, so working with gourds is a relaxing interlude. 


Mavis Wade’s Very Unique Fireplace Screens

I live with my husband, 3 dogs, and an assortment of ducks and geese in a very rural part of Ontario surrounded by oak trees, (hence the name of our web site.)  I tried to grow gourds from seed last summer, but have accepted that my green thumb does not extend to growing gourds of any size. 


  Mavis’s husband Mickie is a carver. He also makes rocking horses. This beauty is carved with a maple body, oak rockers and real horse hair tail and mane.


 We (my husband carves) do art shows, studio tours and sell our work in shops.  The bird feeders are very popular and the necklaces are getting a lot of attention as well.  I recently did a workshop with 16 or so individuals who do wood burning and who wanted another medium to work with apart from wood or leather.


Our website is:

Mavis Wade and Mickie Mackie work from their log home overlooking a picturesque private pond on their wooded paradise. Their Studio is open year round and they are part of a Studio Tour September 2-4, 2006. Thank you very much Mavis for this article and the following Tutorial. To view Mavis's and Mickie's art click here.

Bird Feeder Tutorial By Mavis Wade

What You Will Need: 

-          Medium Sized Gourd

-          Oak leaves or other leaves with a nice shape

-          Pencil, eraser & rag

-          Small jigsaw for cutting

-          Sandpaper

-          Wood burner

-          Leather dyes or acrylic paints

-          Matt black Interior / Exterior paint

-          Spray varnish

-          Leather / Suede cord for hanging

  1. Pick out any medium size gourd and clean it.  When I am making leaf feeders, I don’t clean the gourd as well as I do if I am making a bowl or lamp base.  I like the mottled finish and the leaves look more natural.
  2. Using an overturned bowl or a book as a guide, draw a line completely around the bottom of the gourd about 1 ½ - 2 inches from the bottom. This is where the birdseed will be contained.
  3. For this particular feeder, I have chosen a selection of oak leaves. I then trace or draw a leaf design on the top and sides of the gourd, ensuring that the top and bottom of the gourd are attached.
  4. The parts of the design that are not leaves are cut using a jig saw and removed. I save the bits for other projects.
  5. I use my wood burner to burn the leaf design into the gourd, overlapping leaves and extending the design down onto the bowl section. I do this to prevent the dyes from bleeding into one another, otherwise I use acrylic paints.
  6. Once the design is to my satisfaction, I ensure that the inside of the gourd is sanded and smooth.
  7. At some point small holes have to be made in the bottom of the feeder to prevent any rainwater from accumulating once it is hanging outside. I use a sharp leather awl.
  8. In a well-ventilated area, I spray the inside of the gourd with matt black interior/exterior paint.  Have a rag handy to wipe off any of the over spray that you can’t incorporate into the design later on.
  9. Once the interior of the feeder is dry, I assemble the dyes, stains and paint that I want to use.
  10. Each leaf is stained a different colour and the stains are blended while they are still wet.
  11. I usually put two holes in the stem end of the gourd and use leather or suede laces for a hanger.
  12. The gourd then gets several coats of a spray varnish to ensure that the colour is protected. 

Being a bird person I love this feeder.

Thank you very much Mavis - it really is different.

March Dates To Remember  

March 6: Holi is celebrated throughout India. It is both a celebration of the triumph of good over evil as well as the arrival of spring.


March 8: International Women’s Day. Women from all over the world are recognized for their achievements and success. In many countries, this day is a national holiday.


March 8 – 12: Canada Blooms Garden Show We will be there in Booths 17 & 18 so stop by to see us! For details on Canada Blooms click here.


March 17: St Patrick’s Day. This Irish holiday is always celebrated on March 17th, which is the day that Saint Patrick died. He was a missionary in the 4th century who converted the Irish to Christianity.


March 21: Spring Equinox always falls around March 19th - 21st. There are exactly 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness on this day. The first day of Spring this year on March 20.


Stonehenge – I was cleaning out an old purse that I had taken to England with me a couple of years ago and can you image my joy when the roll of film I had found contained pictures of Stonehenge. To learn more about this ancient place click here.

NEXT ISSUE:  April's Issue of Gourd Fever, I suspect, will be one you are going to really enjoy. Firstly our Featured Artist, Rhoda Forbes, is well known in the gourd world. Not only does she do beautiful work, she publishes a series of instructional booklets among other things. Rhoda will be doing a Tutorial on how to make an"Apple Basket" using gourd and pine needles. We are delighted to feature Babar Benderlyodlu, an incredible gourd artist who resides in Turkey. His art is very original and it is interesting to learn from Babar how gourds are used in Turkey. Yes gourd life is grand isn't it! Until then….Pam Grossi & Peter Bell


 Northern Dipper Farm House In Winter

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 13 


In this issue

March Is The Month of The Box Sale!


Gourd Growing in New Zealand - A Report by Helen Bovet, Grower and Artist


Featured Artist - Steve Genereaux - Unconventional Art!


Featured Artist - Mavis Wade-

Painter & Gourd Artist


Tutorial: "How To Make A Bird Feeder" by Mavis Wade


Dates To Remember!


Gourd Sightings & Trivia


"Capote Woman" by Susie Tuomala Clay and Gourd

'Hopi Woman" by Susie Tuomala

Susie Tuomala does extraordinary Gourd Art, using natural materials from around her area or picked up in her travels. In addition, Susie crafts other unique items from natural materials. To see more of Susie’s work click here.


“Pine Needles, Seed and Gourd"

by Verna Ohryn

“Pine Needles, Gourd and Marbles"

by Verna Ohryn

 Dyed Gourd With Gold Leaf - "Salmon" by Verna Ohryn


Verna has studied the art of the Cree beadwork technique, porcupine quill work, quilting, leatherwork and many styles of basketry. She has won provincial and national awards for both her beadwork and basketry and her work is owned by collectors around the world. She is always studying new techniques whether they be invented by herself or ancient and traditional.

 To view her gourd art  click here.

New Zealand - Natural Beauty and Grace

Maori RockCarving (Photographer: Ross Barnett.) To see more photos of New Zealand click here.

While New Zealand is a relatively young country, it has a rich and fascinating history, reflecting both its Maori and European heritage. Amazing Maori historic sites and taonga (treasures), some dating back almost a thousand years, are a contrast to many beautiful colonial & modern buildings. There are 2 official languages in New Zealand – English and Maori.

To learn more about this beautiful country click here or click here


“My Art is my Voice, as well as my salvation.” Steve Genereaux




Mushroom Lamp

 Gourd Vase

Bowl With Autumn Leaves


Christmas Ornament

Glow Stone Necklace

The above 6 photos are the work of Steve Genereaux

 Lamp by Mavis Wade
Gourd purse made from a canteen gourd and stained with mahogany dye.

Necklaces made with the “bits and pieces” of leftover gourds cut into shapes, designs burned in and then stained using wood stains or leather dyes.

Mickie’s Carved Cardinal & Mavis’s Bird Feeder 

Tutorial by Mavis Wade

Completed Bird Feeder  (Photo 1)

Getting Started – Make sure to leave a deep enough bowl /saucer in the bottom to hold sufficient birdseed.


Collect favourite leaves and use them for your pattern. Here I used the oak leaves as a pattern on the gourd. Ensure that the two sides extend to the saucer.

Wood Burning The Pattern 

The burned lines will prevent the dye from bleeding into each other.



The apple gourd with the pattern cut out. The veins are burned into the gourd. The inside of the gourd is painted.



Completed Birdfeeder (Photo 2)

This feeder is charming and there is lots of room for seed and for the birds tp perch. Keep it filled and the birds will be daily visitors to your yard. Leave it out all summer and you will see the young birds coming with their parents to feed.

  Gourd Sightings
Anthony Quinn drinking out of a Chinese Bottle gourd in The Guns For San Sebastian (1968) To learn more click here.


Royal is like a pup on a snowy day! 


Annie Kat Eyeing Up What She Hopes Is Her Dinner. Annie Always Was A Dreamer!


Blackie Likes To Survey His

Territory Regardless Of The

Weather Conditions


"Body Worlds" – A fascinating anatomical exhibition of real human bodies. This exhibit has been presented throughout Europe, the US and Canada. If you are interested in health or the human body this exhibit is for you. For more info click here.

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