artists, growtips, info & more

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



Poppies are gorgeous when painted on a gourd.


 Gourd Vessel by Rhoda Forbes

In This IssueI am thrilled to introduce Babur Benderlioglu, a gourd artist who resides in Turkey. Babur’s sculptures are very unique but his passion for gourds is universal. In addition we are presenting  a woman many of you know or know of. Rhoda Forbes is a talented artist who is involved in both the Canadian and the U.S. gourd scene. Rhoda has contributed the tutorial "Apple Basket" using her own pine needle design. This tutorial fits in well with Easter and Spring.
Happy Spring Everyone! It is the time of year to take a few minutes to stop and smell the roses. In other words, enjoy this months Issue of Gourd Fever.

Gourd Seed Headquarters – Open For Business!

It's almost time to plant and we still have a few packs of seed left!

We have sold out of Apple gourd seeds but we still have a few packs left of the other varieties. Order now so you can get an early start. For details click here.

May Showers Will Bring June Gourd Flowers
Order 6 packs of seeds and receive a free ND Northern Grow Guide.  To view click here.

Back By To Popular Demand

Kettle Gourd Sale


50% Off All Kettles Over 9”
We listen to our customers. We have received many emails from customers who are sorry that they didn’t order more Kettles or that they didn’t get in on the sale at all. So here you are… here.  Must ship from April 1 - 30, 2006.

Babur Benderlioglu - Creative Gourd Sculpture Artist

  Babur Benderlioglu
“ Gourds are the nature’s most exciting raw material for the sculpture ART. No wonder they call it The Mother Nature’s Pottery”


Babur Benderlioglu is an artist who resides in Turkey. I had the pleasure of meeting him online and through our Emails it quickly became apparent that this man is passionate about gourds. Please welcome Babur and feel free to drop him an email at  He would love to hear from the North American gourd community! You can also contact Babur through his website.

How long have you been working with gourds Babur?


I discovered gourds in the 60's. I was much more into oil paintings then. In those days I only drew simple patterns on the gourd and then would use oil paint. The impulse to sculpture the gourd came to me in 2001. 

Babur’s Gourd Sculpture “Private Collection”
Are gourds popular in Turkey?


People living in the south of Turkey grow gourds. There are gourd sellers in the market places. In this country gourds are called "sukabag?" which means "water pumkin" Here people carry water in them. Also children tie gourds around their waists and swim in the river. They use them for floating on the water. OR they hang them together with blue beads as decorative ornaments. But they do not use gourds for art.

“Funny Molla Nasreddin and his Donkey”

You are passionate about gourds and art. Do you find that people are surprised at what can be done with a gourd?


I love to work with gourds. They are so elegant, so gentle, so sacred and so magnificent a material for sculpture art. Many people, when they first saw my gourd sculptures in the exhibitions; they were always amazed. When I first opened my gourd sculpture art exhibition in Turkey's well-known Hacettepe University in Ankara, I couldn't evaluate my art because there was no other examples of gourd sculpture to compare to.

Where do you live in Turkey? Are your gourd sculptures found in many galleries and exhibits?


I live in Istanbul. There are many art galleries in this city. I have a current exhibition in the most prominent art gallery called  At the moment my art is on sale at galleries in the "Sculptures & Carvings" section (Page 21 & 22) as well. I want people in this country to know what can be done with gourds.
In addition I am arranging Internet groups. I can also give classes for the people in Canada and the U.S. on the Internet with demonstrative pictures to go with simple explanations. This would be completely free of charge. I want gourd art and my sculpture technique to spread around the world! That is what would make me happy.
Babur thank you for this article. It is fasinating to learn about artists and gourd art in other parts of the world. Please keep in touch and we will do the same.To view Babur's art click here.

Rhoda Forbes – International Gourd Artist, Educator and More!

“Siberian Tiger” – Chip Carved with Pyrography by Rhoda Forbes

Rhoda Forbes - International gourd artist, designer and featured artist in  “Gourd Pyrography” and “Gourd Carving.” by Jim Widess and Ginger Summitt. Rhoda teaches, has self-published a series of her own books on pine needle coiling on gourds and is a member of various gourd societies. Rhoda lives in North-Eastern British Columbia and is so involved in the gourd world one can only imagine how she does it. Rhoda is an amazing woman as you will soon learn.

"My designs have garnered many Blue Ribbons at various State shows. Many of my subjects come from the area where I live. Moose and deer wander through the yard at their leisure, offering many  photo-ops. Wildlife is one of my favorite subjects to use when designing. 


I cannot grow gourds up here, the season is just not long enough, but that does not stop my passion for them. I began working with gourds in 1999, prior to that I had dabbled in various crafts and had tried my hand at painting on canvas. The stark white canvas did not stir my creativity like the warm golden gourd, Mother Nature's canvas.  Since purchasing my first gourd, I have never looked back. There is always an idea sketched on paper, a gourd started, and the design ideas are unlimited. My mind is continually analyzing how 'this' could work with my gourds. I enjoy designing with two of Mother Nature's gifts combined; the hard shelled gourd and long leaf pine needles.


I have been an active member with the Canadian Gourd Society, having designed the first website. To date I have not attended the CGS gourd show, but it is on the top of my 'to do' list for 2007. I have taught in various states and in BC, teaching is one of my passions.  My books have been well received by the gourd community, and have led to me to completing my new book "Mother Natures Canvas -The Gourd" Book 1."

"…to give a gourd as a gift is to give happiness and peace."


I was hesitant to title Rhoda as extrodinaire but she is! Rhoda contributes much to the gourd world, the latest volunteering as the Editor for the CGS Newsletter. We do all appreciate the work that Rhoda does for us. To view Rhoda’s website click here

Apple Basket - Design by Rhoda
Forbes (Apple Basket Tracing Pattern Follows)
What You Will Need: 

Apple Gourd

Pine Needles

Artificial Sinew

Tapestry Needle

Drill and 1/32” bit

Jig Saw

Wood Burner**

Tracing paper/tissue paper


Gilders Paste in the following colours:

Tulip Red   


African Bronze 

Canary Yellow



Q-tips or Micro Brush

Artist Tape/Masking Tape

Soak a small bundle of pine needles in warm water for about 20 min. Shake excess water off of them and wrap in a terry towel. Set aside.Clean the gourd. 


Step 1 Draw a line on the top of the apple gourd for the opening, curve down on each side. Sort of an egg shape. When preparing to draw the line be sure you have one side that is nice and flat for the design. Make a starting hole with a knife, insert the jigsaw blade and cut along the line.  Scrape out the interior. Remember to wear a mask.


Step 2 With the drill and bit suggested, drill holes around the top, about 1/4” down from the rim and about 1/3” apart. Draw a circle on each side, from the drilled holes down and up to the other side. With the drill and bit drill holes on each side of the line, leaving about a 1/4” space between them. Drill the sets of holes about 1/3” apart.


Step 3 Trace the design using see-through tracing paper or white tissue paper. Enlarge or reduce the design to fit your gourd. Position the design on the flat side of the gourd, tape in place with artists tape. Tape the sides first and then the top and bottom. As you are burning gently press the paper flat on the area you are about to burn. **If you do not have a wood burner, you can skip this part, and trace the design onto the gourd, then outline it with a Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen, black. With a writing tip, or burning tip of your choice begin to burn the design. Start at the top center and work out. When you have burnt the whole design, remove the paper and darken all the lines.

Step 4 Coloring

I have used Gilders Paste to color the design. I also use Micro-brushes from, you can use q-tip, your fingers, small stiff brush, just whatever works for you. I use a bit of mineral spirit on the brush, it helps spread the colors. Don’t use too much or the colors will go on like a watercolor wash! Begin coloring the apples, apply Tulip Red, to most of the apples, color a few with African Bronze and highlight with Canary Yellow. Highlight the red apples with Apricot. Keep your highlights to one side, either left or right. Color the leaves using African Bronze and Canary Yellow for highlights. Use Black to shade between the apples. Apply some shading on one side of the basket in the ground area. Using the Sandalwood color the basket, using Apricot for the highlights. Use the wood burner to add the wood grain lines on the basket. When you are satisfied with the coloring, let it dry and rub with a dry cloth.


Step 5 Coiling


(a) Cut the tips off of the pine needles or pull them off.

(b) Cut off two arms length of artificial sinew. Divide into four strands. Thread the tapestry needle with one of the strands. Take a small bundle of needles, about 1/4’ around, wrap the tail of the sinew around the bundle twice, then tie three tight knots.

(c) Hold the bundle on the rim above one of the holes in the center of the back. Insert the needle into a hole from the inside of the gourd, come out and over the bundle, pull the sinew tight, pulling straight out. If you pull up you may cut through the hole. Insert the needle in the next hole, out over the bundle. I work to the left. Add needles to the center of the bundle as you go, keeping the bundle about the same thickness. The idea is to bury the new needle into the center so the white colored end doesn’t show.

Continue in this manner all around the rim.  When you reach the first stitch, gently push the loose ends (of the beginning) to the back and insert the needle into the same hole and tighten.

Rim Row 2

(d) Place the bundle on top of the previous row.

Attach the new coil  to the first one by inserting the needle from the back, to the left of the stitch below, out and over the bundle, to the next stitch to your left, continue around until you reach the set of holes to the left of the design.

Front handle

(e) SPLIT the coil. (see the picture to the let, the bowl is on it’s side, the coil is split with half going down) Divide the coil in half, bringing the sinew between the two coils and over the coil that will be going down , fill the bundle with needles. Insert the needle into the first hole to the left, out and over the bundle and into the adjacent hole, continue to the rim. When you reach the top right, hold the bundle and wrap the sinew around it as if your are stitching. (Use clothespins to hold the wrapped stitches as you wrap) Don’t forget to keep the bundle full of needles. Wrap until the handle is about 11” long. Attach to the first stitch going down and continue attaching to the first row,  all around until you reach the top right! Breathe. Now move this bundle to the back of the first handle coil and attach to it all the way to the left side.


Back handle

When you reach where you split the bundle...join the bundle together. Coil on top of the previous row to the left side of the back. Using the same bundle, with no splitting, coil down and around to the top right. Just as you did on the other side. Wrap the bundle until it reaches the top of the first handle, attach this bundle to the handle for about 6 stitches. (The bottom of this picture ? is the first handle, the picture shows the first stitch of the second handle, attached to the first handle)          


Wrap the bundle until you reach the rim, or first coil going down on this side. Attach the coil to the first one as you did on the other side around until you reach the top.  Attach the  coil to the outside of the second handle. Just prior to reaching the rim cut the pine needles on an angle, about 2” long, continue coiling onto the coil below until all the ends are bound in.


To end you will do a lock stitch. Out to the left of the stitch below, over the stitch and into the right, out to the left , pull tight and cut. If you are running out of sinew do the lock stitch and cut. To add a new piece, leave a 1/2” tail, and complete the above method, only don’t pull too tight, hold the tail behind and wrap it down when you are coiling.


To finish the inside I use SoBo glue and mulberry paper. (You could use Modge Podge)  Using an old brush, paint the interior of the gourd with a mixture of SoBo glue and water, about the thickness of cream. Tear the mulberry paper into pieces, apply to the interior painting with SoBo glue, smooth out the paper with the brush. Let dry.


Using a smooth rag, rub the coiling to  break off any loose ends.

Spray your piece with your favourite finish.    
Pattern for Tracing For Apple Design

Thank you Rhoda for sharing this Tutorial from your new book Mother Nature’s Canvas, Book 1.
     (Northern Dipper have customers who have purchased
       Rhoda's books and they rave about them. Comments
           include "Very professional and easy to follow”)
          If you are interested in more coiling projects, visit
                Books are available as paper, CD or E-Books. Three books on pine needle coiling are available.
I   have     
               As an afterthought: Northern Dipper does sell  Apple Gourds, Gilders Paste and long South Carolina Pine Needles.  Click here for details

April Dates To Remember  

April 1: April Fools' Day began in the 1500s when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian. In modern times April 1 is the day to pull jokes on family and friends.


April 5: Ching Ming Day - Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Asian countries believe that unhappy spirits wander all over the world on this day. Ching Ming or Quigming Festival is a day when graves are tidied and freshened up. It's considered unlucky to do important business or have an operation on this day.


April 12: Passover is an eight-day, Jewish holiday that celebrates the freeing of the Jewish slaves from Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. It is a family holiday that is celebrated with special foods, songs and customs. The first night of Passover will be April 12.
April 15: For those of you living in the Northern climate start your gourd seeds. Soak them for 24 hours and plant them in a 4” peat pot – 2 seeds per pot. Keep moist.  
April 16: Easter is the time of springtime festivals. A time for Christians to celebrate the life and resurrection of Christ. A time of excitement for kids with Easter baskets filled with chocolate eggs. In Pagen ceremonies, which predates the Christian Easter, the return of spring is celebrated with an huge festival commemorating their goddess of offspring and of springtime, Eastre.


April 22: Earth Day  Make every day an Earth Day - As individuals we can all do our part in saving the planet.


April 29: Arbor Day is a US holiday and it is a holiday that should be adopted by every one. Arbor

means trees and in most states people celebrate by
planting trees in their yards and communities.

   Peter and Company 2005 
 Soon our kitchen porch will be filled with dogs again.

NEXT ISSUE:  I am excited about this upcoming May issue. We are fortunate to know Ian McDougall, a Purple Martin expert. This man is amazing and will go to all lengths for his birds. Also a Tutorial on Making Purple Martin Houses with some interesting links. April will be harvest month at Northern Dipper so I will fill you in on that. (I was out in the field yesterday and we have a beautiful crop this year.) Please note that the May Issue will be out a little earlier than usual as we are off for a few days on holidays. To close let me just add this. It was sent to us from Oona and I like it.
She was not quite what you would call refined.
She was not quite what you would call unrefined.
She was the kind of person that would keep a parrot.
                                                 Mark Twain
Now how many of us are like that! Until then….Happy Gourding. Pam Grossi & Peter Bell


 A Foggy Day In January in Sidney on Vancouver Island

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 14 


In this issue
Back due to popular demand - April Is Kettle Month
Babur Benderlioglu - Gourd Sculpture Artist From
Featured Artist & Educator-Rhoda Forbes

Tutorial: "Apple Basket" Designed by Rhoda Forbes


Dates To Remember!


Gourd Sightings & Trivia

 Florida’s "Shake, Rattle and Roll" Festival 2006
And the winners are....
Gary Devine - Best Of Show
This carved Wine Goblet is made up of 8 different gourds, assembled, carved and painted.  The bronze colouring is achieved by using a sponging technique over the carved portion of the gourd.
Catharine Devine -
"Gourd Scarab"
1st Place In The Masters Category
 It is made from a bushel gourd grown inside a flat bottomed container, and the neck from another gourd as a base. I burned the design, and painted it using acrylics and powdered pigments (brand name Angel Wings).  The top was coiled using Baby rush and coloured waxed linen thread.


Congratulations to the both of you! To view more of the Devine’s art
To learn more about the Florida’s “Shake,, Rattle & Roll Festival


    A Sampling of Babur’s Many Gourd Sculptures

“Blue Turtle"
  "The Mary Magdalene and The Holy Grail"
"Grouping 1"
“Grouping 2”
“My Neighbour Pongo”
Close-Up of Pongo
The above 8 pictures are the art of Babur Benderlioglu.
I love the abstract design and the originality of each piece. 

Rhoda Forbes – Extraordinaire!
Rhoda Forbes
Mask – I love these colors!
 Heron On Gourd

Spirit Wall Hanging

Tutorial – “Apple Basket” Designed by Rhoda Forbes
Draw a line for the opening.(Step 1)
Cut the opening using a small 
 jigsaw. (Step1)


Drill holes along the rim and along the illustrated line. This is where the pine needles will lie as you can see in the picture of the finished basket. (Step 2)
Position the paper on the flattest side of the gourd using tape to secure.(Step 3)
Using a wood burner burn the outline of the design.(Step 3)
Color Using Gilders Paste. If your paste dries out a bit just add some Mineral Spirits, close the lid and let it sit overnight. In the morning it ill be perfect. (Step 4)


These apples look good enough to eat!

(Step 4) 

Wrap The Tail of the Sinew Around the Pine Needles. (Step 5 - b)


Notice the starting point of the pine needles in the top left-hand corner.

(Step 5 - c)
Front Handle - Splitting The Coil
 (Step 5 - e)

Wrap until the handle is about 11” long.

(Step 5 - e)
The second handle is attached to the first handle. (Step Back Handle)
To end use a lock stitch. This basket would be a lovely gift for someone at Easter.

 Other Designs by Rhoda Using Pine Needles & Coiling
Turquoise Vessel Using Silk Dyes and Pine Needles
Rhoda’s “Fire Dance”
This rim brings out the natural markings of the gourd.
Pueblo Dreams
Poppies! What a lovely surprise.
Rhoda's Gourd Kaleidoscope
Check out Rhoda's website to view many styles of gourd art including pine needle coiling.

               Gourd Sightings
Word has it that one of Northern Dipper’s Maranka gourds was carved out and used as a lantern in the new production Lord of the Rings – The Musical which is currently showing in Toronto, Canada. To read about this production click here.

It must be Monday…
Jack is back!
Jack lives down the road from us but he has decided that he would rather live here. On Monday he arrives, spends the week and on Friday's we take him back. Jack is quite a character. He loves to go for walks with Blackie and Royal , quivers thinking about car rides and the occasional bowl of Crunchies - well that puts him in Heaven. 

Homer should be investing in Horton shares!

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