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Artist Dan Ladd's "Silenus Upper Torso"
This 9 1/2" high sculpture is a hardshell gourd grown in a mold.
In This Issue: We are honoured to present Dan Ladd, an artist who, after graduating with 2 art degrees, found his interests moving from “studio” sculpture to using plant growth as an art medium. Dan’s work includes the molding of gourds, which are truly impressive.
Our tutorial this month is by Linda Montabone who
will show us how to make Gourd Tulips, a most welcome spring flower and a good project for that bag of mini gourds under your table.
We have included a seed/planting schedule to help you plan your gourd growing season. Follow this schedule and before you know it, you will be planting out many healthy gourd seedlings.
Much to our delight there are letters galore along with other gourdly news. So let's get on with it now – I know you are all anxious to meet our Featured Artist Dan Ladd!
In addition to molding gourds Dan manipulates and trains
tree growth into sculptural forms. Following is an interview we had with this very unique artist.
Q. Your art is very unusual in the sense that you are using living plants as your canvas. What inspired you to take your art in this direction?
I am interested in using plant growth as an art
medium, to work collaboratively. I worked for years as a "studio" sculptor, and gradually moved entirely to working with Nature. I always spent alot of time in the woods in my youth and still do.
I found many accidents of self-grafting in Nature that I thought I would like to be a part of somehow. I thought about intervention in plant growth and what that has meant through time. I try and take measure always of the degree of intervention I am performing.
I have also found my personal growth and evolution reflected in Nature. The practice is important to me in staying connected to the world. I like the dialogue, the development of the relationship with the living other, the forgiveness.
Q. You manipulate living plants and create many forms including chairs and archways. Do you use molding techniques in the shaping of trees as well as gourds?
No molds on the trees, but yes hardware and frames and other armature to hold the growth in place until the form is fully taken. Tree growth can be persuaded, not necessarily molded.
With the hard-shell gourds, I pre carve the form I intend or hope for, and regularly prepare 7 or more molds of the same form because of the extreme odds that there will be any recognizable results, ever.
It has taken me 25 plus, painful years to work out the technology and science, which I still consider proprietary, no one could pay me enough at this point...
Dan Ladd grafts trees into Architectural and Sculptural forms. The tree growth is manipulated and trained over time.
Q. Once the gourds are mature in the fall, do you remove the molds for drying? Do you ever "green peel" the gourds to let the gourds dry with a beautiful clear shell?
I do now let the molds "rest" after cutting them from the vines after the killing frost. I found that the hydrostatic pressure was so great within the molds that if I broke them out too early they would just spontaneously burst and crack.
Molded Gourd Car
And yes for the most part I scrape the skin off except in those instances when I sense the shell is just viable, or very thin. Then I leave the skin on to even or slow down, the drying out in the hopes of preventing shrivelling, and cracking. It's a fine line.
Some times I will even slow down the drying further by keeping the gourd in a plastic bag. I'm philosophic about clear shells and patinas...
Q. Do you incorporate inanimate objects such as copper or bronze in your art?
Yes. Now I have tree projects where I have placed metal, glass, cups, fans, rocks, etc. into living trees. Electric conduit and water piping are introduced into trees as well. These options allow for lighting and water fountains. The tree heals over the foreign object and incorporates it.
In fact this has become my main interest in working with trees at this point: introducing inclusions, integrating them with the inanimate, having the trees include building materials, how trees respond to structures, and accommodate the "other" etc.
To learn more about Dan Ladd and his art click here.
Thank you very much Dan for contributing this article.
Your love and respect of Nature is reflective in your art.
Your work brings to mind the quote by John Fowles -
"In some mysterious way woods have never seemed to me
to be static things. In physical terms, I move through them;
yet in metaphysical ones, they seem to move through me."
Once again merci - it was a pleasure.
(All photos for this article were provided by Dan Ladd)
Tutorial: Tulip! Tulips! Tulips!
This bouquet of tulips will brighten up the lingering
days of winter weather.
- Wash and dry mini gourds. Draw the petal pattern
on your gourds. Cut and gently pull apart. Clean the insides.
- After cutting and cleaning, erase any pencil marks.
- Drill a hole for stem wire in the bottom of the gourd.
- Paint interior and exterior with calligraphy inks.
- Wash interior with gold acrylic paint.
- Paint the outlines of interior flower pedals with
- Finish interior and exterior with floor acrylic finish at least two coats. Dipping works best as ink runs, dry over night.
Finishing Up - The Stem and Leaves:
- Cut stem lengths to desired size, mine were 16 inches long. (The stem & stamen are 1 piece of wire.)
- Roll 1 end of the wire around a nail to make the curly stamen.
- There is an inside & an outside to drilled hole for the stem. Both need the beads to be glued in so the stem won't slip through. Keep the head of the flower straight during this step and make sure you assemble the flower before gluing. (See Diagram 1 to the right.)
- Hang up side down to dry overnight to set glue.
- Wrap stems with craft ribbon, attaching first with scotch tape and then rolling up and down the wire stem.
- Add the paper leaf, 1 per stem, more if you like. Fold the bottom of leaf to prevent tearing while wrapping.
Waxed cloth might work well as a leaf too.
- Finish with a few knots on the lower stem.
Oh I didn't mention to save the tops of the cut gourds, they will also make an interesting flower!
Thank you Linda for this timely tutorial. We enjoyed it very much and can't wait to fill our home with Gourd Tulips!
Join Artist Sioux George
for a 1-Day Workshop...
Saturday,April 14 at Northern Dipper Farm
This is an exciting class taught by California gourd artist Sioux George. Three unique techniques will be taught in a one-day class. Students will learn wax resist with leather dyes, spray paint resist, and rubber band resist. If there is time at the end of the class there will be surprise project.
Date: Saturday, April 14, 2007. Times and details will be posted on our website.
Limited class size so sign up now. For details click here.
I'm living in a townhouse in the city of Barrie, Ontario and as you can imagine have only a tiny garden. However back home when I farmed we grew gourds and I would like to grow and paint some again. I'm wondering if you could suggest which ones would have the least expansive growth habit and be the easiest trellised. I would be making mostly small to medium bowls out of them.
Tiny growing spaces are very common with urban dwellers and with a bit of planning you will be able to grow a small successful gourd crop. Choose seeds for the smaller night blooming hard-shell varieties such as Cannonball, Birdhouse or Tobacco Box. The small day blooming mini gourds are also suitable for small gardens. All of these are lovely when grown along a chain link fence or up a trellis.
Make sure your trellis is strong and attached well to your wall. You can make a trellis using 2x4’s and chicken or page wire or you can buy wooden trellises at a reasonable cost from your local hardware shop or nursery.
Plan to plant in full sun with a southern exposure. You will need to prune in early July otherwise your vines will get wild and take over your house!
This year, in our monthly Grow Reports, we will be paying particular attention to small gardens. One of our roving reporters, Heather Monk, who has a small city garden in Vancouver, BC, will be growing gourds and will be relaying her experiences to us. Presently she is already hoping for a heat wave – particularly in May - June so those seedlings can get a terrific start!
I hope this has helped you.
I don’t know whether you can help me or not but I am married to a bit of a nag that wants me to throw my gourd crop away. He says they are rotten and stinky. They are pretty moldy – is this normal? I need some facts to win this argument.
Waiting patiently in Liberty, Sask.
Yes it is normal for gourds to get moldy during their drying season. The mold will result in your gourds having beautiful patterns throughout the shell.
It sounds from your description that you have grown a successful gourd crop. If some look like they are collapsing or getting soft get rid of those ones. Once you can hear the seeds rattling around inside you can wash them up and craft them.
As far as your husband now…..good luck Harriet.
To send in questions to Dear Carolyn! click here.
A Quick Study
Hi Carolyn and Linda,
I am writing to let you know how much I love the Apoxie Sculpt! I am new at gourds so I thought I would do a quick little project to get use to this new product and much to my surprise, within minutes, I found it was absolutely great to work with. Easy to manipulate, it drills and sands like a dream and is a pleasure to paint, even when wet. It does stick to surfaces really well (my dining room table!) so I used a bit of Saran Wrap to work on which solved that problem. I had a bowl of water at my side for fingers and tools.
I’ll be out to your farm once I get back to Ont.in May to pick up more gourds and supplies. The last visit was a lot of fun and you two were so helpful…I am thanking you for such a positive experience.
Penelope Hall - Olympia, WA.
These dark marks will result in beautiful patterns in the shell of this gourd.
Many artists such as Leah Comerford use the shell patterns
as a basis for her designs.
To learn more about this remarkable artist click here,
Hello there Northern Dipper,
Really good newsletter! Love the artists featured! And I now have some Gilder's Paste so I am going to experiment lots! Wish me luck!
I am still overwhelmed by the natural beauty of all the gourds you sent me, and every time I go to put my mark on one, I get stopped. Who am I to mess with Mother Nature? Then I read the newsletter, and realize, who am I not to? She made them to be messed with, and I just need to work with Her on that one! Thanks once again...
W. Treschow – Calgary, Alta.
Please send in pictures or comments to Reader's Corner. Click here to firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrates Its Grand Opening
Steve Genereaux, owner and primary artist of Unconventional Art is pleased to announce the Grand Opening of his new gallery / studio at 44 George St in Brantford, Ont.
Steve creates fabulous gourd art and fine art prints. His gallery also has gift items including hand-dipped beeswax candles.
NEXT ISSUE: We are very pleased to feature Sheila Jacobs, gourd artisan and instructor who is known in Victoria, BC as the Fairy Gourdmother. Sheila has created many award winning pieces and has touched the lives of numerous people through the workshops held in her bright sunny studio.
The growing season begins and April is the month to get all those gourd seeds started. A few easy steps and you will be on your way.
Also there will be a very good tutorial demonstrating a technique that will compliment any gourd.
Keep those letters coming in – they can be about anything as long as they are about gourding. If we do not know the answers, we will try to find out for you!
That's it for now then. See you at Canada Blooms.....
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
Back issues of our newsletter Gourd Fever are on our Website. If you have missed any issues there are some fasinating featured artists, 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 email@example.com
Volume 3, Number 26
In this Issue:
Featured Artist : Dan Ladd - Nature Makes Art!
Tutorial: “Springtime Tulips" by Linda Montabone
New Workshops and Products!
Dear Carolyn! PLUS Reader's Corner
Gourd Sightings & Trivia
These winter birds are enjoying the
feeder that gourd artist Lois Dean
made for them. Lois placed it outside
her studio window and it provides
entertainment for her all day long.
From March 13 – April 13, 2007
Northern Dipper will be shipping only seed orders. Any other orders placed during these dates will be
shipped after April 13.
The farm will be closed to visits from March 4 – April 13, 2007.
Blooming Azaleas in Victoria, B.C.
Come meet Carolyn & Linda in
Booths 18 & 19, at Toronto's
"Canada Bloom's" Garden Show.
Dates: March 7th to 11th.
For more info click here.
"My art explores the interface of the living and the inanimate…and as an artist I’m drawn to this inquiry by the abundance of conceptual ideas."
Dan breaking a gourd mold.
Silenus - A large full torso which is 23"
long. This is made from 2 gourds grown
Venus is 14 1/2" high
Thai Monk Luang Paw
Tree grown around a wooden cube.
Fan grown in a living tree.
Dan working on a rounded arch.
Dan also conducts workshops and
seminars on the art of Tree Sculpture. Commissions are also accepted on
private, public and business properties.
Dan Ladd resides in Putney, Virginia.
by Linda Montabone
The tulip is a springtime favorite with many exceptional colours and petal shapes.
These gourd tulips are a perfect gift for
the mom, sister or friend who get the wintertime blues at this time of year.
What You Need:
- Mini Gourds
- Large nail
- Light gauge fence wire
- Ribbon, 300 yards (Dollar Store)
- Paper beads (Dollar Store)
- Good glue
- Semi-Metallic paper (scrapbook
- Acrylic paint
- Acrylic floor finish
- Large cardboard box bottoms - Use as a drying surface for the tulip heads.
- 7/16 drill bit
- Dremel hand drill with flex shaft rotary & cutting blade
Cut & pull apart gently. Clean the inside.
Diagram 1: See how the small beads
secure the wire stem in the tulip.
To learn about planting tulips click here.
Books & Threads!
Wood burners love both these books.
Black & Natural - 20 yd rolls
Black & Brown - 25 yd rolls
Both the sinew and waxed thread are ideal
for dream catchers and for lashing on
pine needle rims.
To view books click here.
To view thread & sinew click here.
Gourds In The City...
Small city gardens should not be growing Bushel gourds. They can be 1 1/2 feet in diameter and can weight over 50 lbs
Gourd Planting Schedule
For those of you that will be planting a gourd garden this year in northern climates, here is a planting schedule which will help with your planning.
For those of you who live down south, you can just throw those gourd seeds right in the ground.
1.) April 7 - Start your gourd seeds inside in order to give the gourds enough time to mature. A greenhouse with a heater works well too.
2.) May 12 - 14 - Work up the soil, add compost and dig in, lay plastic.
3.) May 15 - Start hardening off the seedlings.
4.) May 24 - Plant seedlings outdoors if weather permits.
To view gourd seeds click here.
To view the Northern Dipper Grow Guide
by Scott Knickelbine
We love Scott's gourd banjos!
Scott will be contributing an article
or tutorial in the near future on the
basics of creating these wonderful instruments.
I do believe I spotted a gourd
in the snake charmer's horn in a Lay's
potato chip commercial. To learn more about snake charmers click here.
Cool Pencil Art!
Jennifer Maestre has created some interesting sculpture out of pencils!
"My sculptures were originally inspired
by the form and function of the sea urchin. The spines of the urchin, so dangerous
yet beautiful, serve as an explicit warning against contact. The alluring texture of
the spines draws the touch in spite
of the possible consequences."
Thanks Bev Williams for sending this in.
I had seen this and thought the same thing
as you "Just pencils...amazing."
To see more of Jennifer Maestre's
cool pencil art click here.
Unconventional Art Store
Gallery / Studio
Unconventional Art gallery / studio space is located in a beautiful, 125 year old brick
building in Brantford, Ont. Come celebrate
the Grand Opening at 44 George St. with owner/artist Steve Genereaux during
the month of March.
Designed & Published by
1535 Myrtle Ave
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7
Northern Dipper Farm
5376 County Rd 56, RR # 2
Cookstown, Ont, L0L 1L0