Note: If using Outlook click the above bar where it says “Click to download photos” This Issue has many photos so it may take a couple of extra minutes to download.
"Granny Smith" Apple Gourd by Sheila Jacobs
These soft colours are very appealing.
In This Issue: To begin, we would like to thank everyone who dropped by our booth at the Canada Blooms Garden Show. It was great to put a face to our many Internet customers and newsletter subscribers. We met a
flurry of new people...it seems as though gourds were
contagious at Canada Blooms. Hats off to the many floral designers who stopped by. In the following picture is a Blooms winning floral design entry, which utilized – yes you guessed right – gourds!
First Place Floral Design Winner at Canada Blooms, 2007.
The category was "Back To The Earth" This entry was designed by Joyce Johnston from the Garden Club of Toronto.
Many gardener’s view gourds as biodegradable, earth friendly planters. A great idea and pretty as can be too.
This month we are very happy to present Featured Artist Sheila Jacobs. Sheila is a fascinating woman who absolutely loves life. Her work is fresh and earthy and very reflective of her environment on Vancouver Island.
It is seed planting month so we will have a short article on how to go about this. We have received many letters regarding gourd growing. A question about achieving good wall thickness is in the Dear Carolyn section later on.
We should mention that the Gourd Fever newsletter articles on growing are written before you actually conduct the step discussed. This way you will be well informed and ready for the task at hand... 'read and do' - that will be the new motto this summer with the gourd growers.
Now to have some fun – Please welcome the most delightful Sheila Jacobs.
March 14, 2007 - Victoria, British Columbia
On a quiet street lined with Japanese cherry trees lives gourd artist Sheila Jacobs. Sheila has been involved with gourds for about 6 years and throughout the summer can be found at the local weekend Moss Street Market attracting people with her beautiful gourd art. Her love of people, art and conversation has earned Sheila the nickname the “Fairy Gourdmother of Victoria” and through the interest that Sheila has created, she has consequently held many classes in her bright sunny studio. (Her studio I might add is located just 2 blocks from the ocean. How nice is that!)
The design of this gourd was inspired by the Bronze Age pottery Sheila had seen at a British Museum.
Sheila was born in Toronto and moved to England at 6 years of age. Throughout high school in the UK she studied art and found what really excited her was stage design. She liked working with 3D – it came alive for her compared to painting on a flat canvas. It was only natural that later on in life, when she discovered gourds on a holiday, she quickly became hooked.
Professionally Sheila took a different path. For many years she was a teacher and systems analyst. Sheila also wrote and published a book on alopecia, an autoimmune condition in which the body mistakenly treats its hair folicles as foreign and suppresses or stops hair growth. In 1990 Sheila and her now ex-husband moved back to Canada, where Sheila worked for the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific on various projects.
Being a follower of the Goddess and Earth religion, Sheila uses symbolism in her art. It is an expression of her gratitude to the bounty and beauty of Mother Nature. This gratitude is apparent when Sheila is handling the gourds or when teaching a roomful of students. Her organic gardens and walks at Botanical Beach reinforce this way of life.
This is a large fruit bowl with a wooden handle from the arbutus tree. Arbutus grows along the southern coast of Vancouver Island on rocky bluffs, normally within 8 kilometres of the ocean.
Sheila will be having classes this year but is undecided on the dates at this time. She may be at the Moss Street Market as well…at least we hope so. It is still pretty early in the year so please check back later on her website under ' Workshops' for future details.
It is Sheila's dream to organize a GourdFest West on
Vancouver Island. There are many fabulous gourd artists in BC so if Sheila can create some interest, this event could be something to look forward to.
To see more of Sheila’s art click here.
To learn about the Moss Street Market click here.
To learn about Arbutus trees click here.
Thank you Sheila for this article. I really enjoyed our visit. We'll have to talk further about GourdFest West. It could become a reality if the interest is there. Annie, Cedar, Pat Young....Pam G.
(All photos for this article were provided by Sheila Jacobs)
Tutorial: Glue Resist (Using A Hot Melt Glue Gun)
This is another easy technique resulting in an endless variety of beautiful designs.
1. Cut a cleaned gourd open. The cut can be straight, wavy, geometric - whatever your preference. Use the top to practice laying out your initial glue on or save it for a future project.
2. Using the gourd scraper clean the interior of the gourd removing any pulp or flesh. Lightly sand to bring down the grain and get rid of any little bits. Paint the inside and let dry – flat black latex gives a nice finish.
3. Draw out the pattern you desire on the outside of the gourd using a pencil.
Resist on Gourds by Karen Cheeseman.
Karen is a multi-disciplined artist whose work includes fiber art
and quilts and hardshell gourds. Check out her website at:
With this wax resist technique you can apply dye to the gourd before applying the hot glue or you can wait and dye after you apply the glue. For first timers apply dye after the glue.
Apply dye using a foam brush. Use very little – with dyes a little goes a long way. Wear gloves as dyes will stain your skin. Do 1 -2 coats to get a deep, rich colour. Wipe off any excess and let dry. For quicker drying use a blow dryer.
And Now the Glue...(Be careful - it is hot.)
Using a hot glue gun, drape your penciled lines with the glue. (Practice on the discarded top first.) The glued areas prevent the dyes from being absorbed into the gourd shell. Vary the thickness of the lines from thick to thin adding blobs here and there.
Add your choice of colours of dyes. If you are using a blow dryer to quicken drying here, don't have it too hot. You do not want to melt the glue.
Once the dye is dried, turn the blow dryer onto low heat and gently remove the glue from the gourd. The sharp edge of a small exacto-knife works well and will lift the glue.
Finished up with 1- 2 thin coats of semi gloss spray sealer. To learn more sophisticated resist techniques sign up for Sioux George's workshop on April 14 at Northern Dipper Farm.
To view beautiful African wax resist gourds click here
Canada Blooms - What A Party!
Linda Bond and Carolyn Cooper, Owners of Northern Dipper
In the middle is Dana Grossi, who has spent time working on a commercial gourd farm planting, pollinating & harvesting.
Northern Dipper was a show stopper with intriguing displays, enticing products and excellent customer service.
The interactive demo table was very popular with both novices and the experienced. Here Carolyn is drilling birdhouse holes for those customers that don't have a drill at home.
Every time I cut a gourd open with the intentions of using the top as a lid, it never fits back on properly. It always seems to be too small. Any ideas?
Check out the middle pot. Even lashing this lid on couldn't save it. A fine blade would have allowed a tighter fit.
This is a common problem with a simple solution. First, always use fine blades for cutting lids, doing puzzle pieces or anything that you want to fit snugly back into the body of the gourd. Coarse blades are not for lids as they remove too much of the gourd and leave a wide seam
as you can see in the above picture.
Refrain from sanding the edges, as this once again will cause too much gourd material being removed. These suggestions should help your gourd having a tighter fit. Carolyn
A perfectly fitted lid. This lacework gourd was created by Vicki Beard, artist, master gardener, teacher & city councillor.
I came across your website quite by accident, but am really enjoying browsing through it. Such a wealth of information - even if I do live in Iowa! I finally printed off all the newsletters and put them in a notebook. Thank you for sharing.
The question that I have is related to gourd thickness. I am new to growing gourds; however, my first two seasons have produced very thin-walled gourds making it difficult to work with them without them cracking. What am I doing wrong?
This gourd has a very thin shell and is even starting to collapse.
It could have been pollinated too late in the season so it did not have enough time to reach full maturity.
I know from personal experience the disappointment of ending up with thin walled gourds that are unusable. Some of the factors that cause this are in your control; other factors are not. Here are a few tips which may help you.
1.) Genetics – If your seed is inferior there is a chance of having poor quality gourds. Remedy - Buy your seed from a reputable supplier.
2.) Get an early start with your seeds. (See this months grow report in the column at the right.)
3.) Prepare your soil. Add compost and wood ash. Dig in well a couple of weeks before planting.
Preheat your soil by spreading out black plastic.
4.) Ideally hard shell gourds require 50 days of heat over 80 F / 26.6 C so plant in full sun with a southern exposure.
5.) Prune your vines and reduce the number of fruit per vine. It is better to have 4 - 5 perfect gourds rather than 10 poor specimens.
The spring and early summer need to be hot, hot, hot!
A cold, rainy spring – not good at all for gourd growers.
Let us know how you do and good luck with this year's crop.
To send in questions to Dear Carolyn! click here.
I know this may seem silly but when I get your newsletter, the first thing I do is scroll down to see the picture of Royal the big black dog. I believe this pup probably has quite a following. Last month I scrolled and alas…no dog. Is she OK ? I just have to know.
Shelley Browne – Dog lover in Boulder, CO.
Royal loves the springtime scents found in the blue flowers.
We are so happy that you enjoy Royal. Royal is a 10 – almost 11 year old Lab who spent the first few years of her life living with a group of street kids. Royal has travelled extensively in the US and Canada riding the rails and has lived in New Orleans, Hollywood and New York just to name a few places. She was so well trained when we got her that she would not even take food from strangers. As you can well imagine that is quite an accomplishment for a Lab!
See you at the Dog Park.
I am just starting to get interested in the art of working with gourds. Can you suggest good starting books that I should buy? A friend sent me the link for the newsletter and it does look great and very helpful. Do you maintain an archive of past letters?
Relief Carved Bowl is featured in The Weekend Crafter by
Welcome to the world of gourds. For the beginner we recommend the Weekender Crafter by Ginger Summit. This book offers a good overview and has 20 excellent projects, each with a different technique and design.
Learn how to make an African Bead Shekerie
And yes we do archive past issues. On the main page of our website, at the bottom of the menu on the left hand side under All About Gourds, there is a listing Gourd Fever Back Issues. Just click and you are there.
For your convenience, here are the links for the books and back issues.
To view our range of books click here.
To view past issues of Gourd Fever click here.
Please send in pictures or comments to Reader's Corner. Click here to email@example.com
This is “Polly” the oppossum who lives at the rear of Northern Dipper farm. She is not as dangerous as she looks and does not damage the gardens or dig up the grass. Her diet includes insects and mice. We were going to live trap and remove her (like the raccoons who wanted to move in) but have decided to leave her be and see what happens. To learn more about "possums" click here.
NEXT ISSUE: We are tickled pink to be able to present as next month’s featured artist Joy Jackson. Joy is adventuresome and to date, has not found a technique that cannot be incorporated into her gourd art. Joy is also quite involved in the organization of Cherokee, a very successful gourd gathering held in the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina. It will be a pleasure to meet Joy and have her as our guest.
A spectacular sunrise.
At some point, in every artist’s journey, a common question arises - “How should I sign my work?” Signing is your identity. Should it be initials, a name or a symbol? Should it be dated or numbered? Next month we will explore some of the pros and cons on this subject and hopefully come to some conclusions.
May is the month you will be preparing your soil for your young seedlings. We will tell you how to go about this and how to ready your new seedlings for the ground. Until then... 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 fascinating 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 3, Number 27
In this Issue:
Featured Artist : Sheila Jacobs - The Beauty of Mother Nature
Tutorial: “Glue Resist" by Carolyn Cooper
The April Grow Report: Starting Your Gourd Seeds
Dear Carolyn! PLUS Reader's Corner
Gourd Sightings & Trivia
Hours & Other Info
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.
Workshop with California Artist Sioux George
One day only: 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.
The class is quickly filling up so sign up now. For details click here.
Tip of the Month
To clean last years Dipper gourd birdhouses use long nose pliers.
"It was a long and winding road to
the wonderful world of gourds.
But it did happen and life has never
The natural gourd shell glows with this translucent finish.
Sheila at the Moss Street Market
Sheila's studio is an artist's paradise. A collector by nature, she has sea stones, shell, crystals and other interesting things which are used as embellishments for her art.
I am sorry the details in this picture are not more defined. This gourd was very unique as it was covered with woodburned maps.
Top view of fruit bowl
This piece is very special. The double Chinese symbols mean long life and was
scripted on hand-made paper which was
then mod podged to the gourd.
Pink Cloud Moneypot
Tutorial: Glue Resist
Resist can be done with a variety of materials including wax crayons or melted paraffin wax. Keep in mind that paraffin is highly flammable so use it with caution.
What You Need for Glue Resist:
Tools and Supplies
- Clean gourd
- Dyes - Black and Mahogany
- Gourd cutter ( I used the Proxxon saw )
- Gourd scraper for cleaning the inside
- Glue gun
- Extra glue sticks
- Small paint brush
- Blow dryer
- Rubber gloves
Remember to always wear a mask when cutting and cleaning gourds. Cover your work area with a plastic cloth.
Tools and Supplies
Applying Glue - Be creative, go wild!
An idea of what my glue pattern looked like.
African Single Colour Mudcloth
Wax resist stained gourd with beaded rim
African Tri-Colour Mudcloth
Wax resist multi-stained & carved gourd
ALL IN A DAY at the
CANADA BLOOMS GARDEN SHOW
Move-In - Due to recent storms large sheets of ice were raining down from the downtown buildings (including the CN Tower) in Toronto. Main roads were
closed and the entry to the trade hall was
miles away from the booth. Here Linda & Carolyn get help moving in the booth
Set-Up - It takes many weeks to prepare for a large trade show. At this point the goal
is to create a warm, interesting space where people will feel welcomed.
Five years ago gourds were a rarity at Blooms. Now gourds are popping up everywhere including information display boards.
Water Drums are always a hit at the shows. These drums made it to YouTube, a highly addictive (for me anyway) Internet past time.
(NOTE: For High Speed users only)
Gourd seeds were a hot item. We had sold out of many varieties by the end of the show.
This is Share who helps us out every year
at Canada Blooms. Share loves gardening & gourds & she does an excellent job with Northern Dipper. Thanks Share!
The GROW REPORT
April: Start Your Seeds
Get your gourd seeds started now. An early start equals strong seedlings, which will result in a higher success rate.
Hard Shell Gourds require 100 –140
frost- free days to mature.
Ornamental Gourds require 70 days.
- 3 inch peat pots (2 seeds per pot)
- A mix of soil and vermiculite or Pro Mix or any good seedling mix.
- Gourd Seeds
- Soak the seeds for 24 hours before you plant them to soften them up.
- Fill the peat pots full of soil mix and
water well. Add soil, press down and
- Plant 2 seeds, approximately 1/2” deep, pointy end up, in each pot in opposite corners. Add soil if necessary.
- Cover your peat pots with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and allow for air entry.
- Place in a sunny window, heated greenhouse or under grow lights. Keep the soil moist.
- Once your seeds start to germinate remove the plastic.
- Gourd seeds take anywhere from 1 – 3 weeks to come up.
- Once you have true leaves give the seedlings a weak formula of water and fertilizer.
To view gourd seeds click here.
To view the Northern Dipper Grow Guide
Sue Bonifacio designed this charming Ribbon Winning (1st Place) gourd pot. Sue was born in England and has been involved with art her entire life. We will have some more pictures of Sue's art in next month's newsletter.
Annemarie White is the artist who created these wonderful dreamcatcher gourds. Dreamcatchers originated in Aboriginal culture and are still very popular. It is believed that at night, dreamcatchers let the good dreams through while catching the bad dreams in its web. The captured dreams disappear in the early morning light.
WATER, a Deepa Mehta film, is a moving story set in India. Beautifully filmed, the characters bring to life the daily struggles of a group of widows and the challenging social order that make their life difficult. Try to see this if you haven't already... it will leave you with lots to think about. Gourds were spotted in the
To learn more about WATER click here.
Percussionist & Instructor
Alycin Hayes is a percussionist who has taught around the world. Alycin is currently travelling from her winter home in Florida up to her summer home in Ontario. Along the way she will be having drumming workshops including a stop at the Cherokee Gourd Gathering. Check her schedule to see if she will be stopping in your area and sign up for a class. It will be worth it. For more info click here.
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1535 Myrtle Ave
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7
Northern Dipper Farm
5376 County Rd 56, RR # 2
Cookstown, Ont, L0L 1L0