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.
Way To Go Linda Bond & Friends!
Along with running Northern Dipper, Linda Bond works as a full-time Paramedic. Linda and her former work partner, along with a hard-working committee, do a yearly fundraiser for the Children's Wish Foundation. This year alone they raised $22,000.00!
The Children's Wish Foundation operates in 32 countries and is a very worthwhile program. Its mission is to provide the means of fulfilling the dreams of seriously and terminally ill children. To learn more about the Children's Wish Foundation click here. http://www.childrenswish.org/
Walking Stick by Martha Reed
Martha & sister Tess like to go for walks along the river
to collect sticks that have been choked out by vines.
Here is a 'one of a kind' walking stick created by Martha.
In This Issue: This month we are pleased to feature Tess Eagles and Martha Reed, sisters and artists who work in many mediums, including gourds. Both have a deep compassion for their Ojibway ancestry and it is their desire to learn as much as possible about their history. This passion is translated through their art.
We are thrilled to present Scott Knickerbine’s tutorial on the long handled dipper gourd banjo. It is a great project for both budding and established musicians and gourd artists. Get your dippers ready - it is time to enjoy this August issue of Gourd Fever!
Tess Eagles & Martha Reed
A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost. ~Marion C. Garretty
Martha Reed's "Chief Joseph"
Sisters are very special. They can be very close and often have a great admiration for each other. Such is the case with Tess Eagles and her older sister Martha Reed.
Tess and Martha both live in Madison County, Arkansas, which is in the NW corner of the state. Lovely Ozark and Boston Mountains grace the landscape, which inspire these two artists to dizzying heights.
Owl by Martha Reed
Tess and Martha are obsessed with gourds starting with the seed, and then the growing and drying, and finally, the icing on the cake, the crafting. For a long time they bought gourds from a lady in Hindsville, Arkansas. Looking back Tess recalls, "I use to buy huge gourds the size of giant pumpkins for $5.00 each. At the time I thought that was a lot of money. Now I would love to find large gourds for five dollars each."
This summer Tess has a huge gourd vine growing all over her front porch and up on the roof. It definitely adds flavour to the conversation when visitors come.
Watercolour of An Old House by Martha Reed
Both sisters have their separate interests too. Tess burns on wooden boxes and make handmade flower presses with intricate burned designs on the top. She also collects wildflowers, dries them and makes pot pourri. In addition she enjoys writing poetry for children.
Martha makes “one of a kind” walking sticks from the vines she finds near her home. She designs hand made beads for them and for her dream catchers but her real passion lies with painting with watercolors.
Both have sold their work at craft shows (individually and together) and at local galleries. When thinking about the craft shows Tess exclaims that she did it for over ten years selling lots of tie-dye before getting into gourds. "Tie-dye is so much more work!" Tess eventually went back to school and then back to work which was a whole new ball game. She had been an at home mom for 18 yrs. She is now working as a nanny and does artwork for a few galleries.
Martha raised four children and three stepsons so she had to put the brakes on things. She currently stays at home and is caregiver to her three grandkids. She continues to express herself through her art and presently sells her work at a gallery in Tulsa that sells exclusively Native American Art.
Martha sits back and muses. “Tess and I miss going to the craft shows. We do think about doing the Farmers Market in Fayetteville among other things but the lack of time is always a bit of a problem.“
A busy life is a good life and Tess and Martha’s life is full with art, family and creative thought. Best of all, their life is filled with each other, and as all sisters know, life is rich when you have that.
Thank you Tess & Martha for sharing your life with us.
We love your art & would love to visit your rural paradise
sometime - preferably when the beautiful dogwoods are all in bloom in the Ozarks - now that is a heavenly sight!
Tutorial: Dipper Gourd Banjo with a Fur “Collar” by Scott Knickelbine
- A clean dipper gourd, 17 – 30” in length, with a very straight neck and a fairly round bulb.
- Tools for cutting the gourd and cleaning the inside. I use a hand jig-saw and a paint stripping wheel on a hand drill.
- A sheet of medium grit sandpaper
- A piece of unshaved goat skin at least 1” in diameter larger than the bulb of your gourd – somewhat bigger is better.
- A nail gun loaded with black-headed brads
- An electric beard or hair trimmer
- A knife with a sharp, short blade (I use the long blade of a Swiss Army Knife)
- A piece of ebony as wide as the gourd’s neck, about ¼” thick and about ½” deep, for the nut.
- Three violin pegs
- A violin peg reamer
- A 1” length of ¼” wooden dowel, or about the same length and size of tree twig.
- An electric drill with 3/32” ¼” and 5/16” bits, and a 1” sanding bit
- A 4” length of rawhide boot lace
- A small scrap of hard wood (maple works best); approx 1”x 1/4” x 1/8”, for the bridge
- Wood glue
- A new, long pencil.
- A clamp big enough to accommodate your gourd neck plus your ebony nut.
- Jewelers nylon monofilament
- Thin file or electric rotary tool with cutting wheel
- To end up with a playable banjo you need to cut through the bulb in a line continuous with the straightest part of the neck. If you have several options, choose the side of the neck that will leave you the most amount of bulb under the cut.
- To draw the line for the cut, I take a leaf out of the kitchen table and hold the gourd with the part of the neck that will be the “fingerboard” flat on the table with the bulb sticking down into the gap of the table. Then I hold a pencil flat on the table and draw a line all the way around the gourd bulb.
Cut the bulb just above the pencil line and clean out the bulb of the gourd. Then tape a sheet of sandpaper to a table and sand the cut side of the bulb down until it’s perfectly in line with the neck.
Mounting and Shaving the Goat Skin
Place the goatskin on the table fur-side down and put the gourd bulb cut side down on it. Use a pencil to trace the shape of the bulb on the back of the skin, then draw another line following the shape of the bulb about ½” farther out all the way around. Use a scissors to cut the skin at this second line.
Soak the skin in warm water for 10 minutes. Don’t over soak – it may make the skin too soft & cause it to tear when you try to stretch it. Blot the excess water away with a towel.
Place the goat skin fur side up over the cut side of the gourd, so that the ½” margin hangs over all sides. I use brads rather than tacks on this project because I want the fur to show. Fold the margin over one side of the gourd and shoot a brad in at one point, about midway between the edge of the skin and the edge of the gourd. Then, gently but firmly pulling the skin tight across the gourd, drive a brad on the other side. Follow the same procedure all around the gourd, until you’ve got it tacked down and fairly taut all the way around. Don’t worry that it’s not quite drum-tight yet; that will happen as it the skin dries.
Let the drum head dry overnight. The next day, use an electric shaver to remove the fur from the flat part of the drum head, using a light pressure and nice straight strokes. This will leave the fur on the outside rim and just stubble on the flat part of the head.
Scrape the stubble from the flat part of the head with a sharp knife, being very careful not to cut the skin.
Finishing the Banjo
- Drill a ¼” hole in the base of the bulb, exactly opposite of the neck and just below where your fur trim stops. Glue the dowel into this hole, leaving at least ½” of it sticking out.
- Use the rotary sanding bit to sand a round impression into one side of the ebony at the widest width. The top edge of the impression should be about 1/8” from the opposite side of the ebony. Put a line of glue on the edge of this round impression and clamp it to the neck of the gourd, about 2 ½ ” down from the top. This will be your “nut.”
- Drill three 5/16” holes all the way through the side of the neck; two above the nut and one about 1 3/4” down from the nut. These holes will be just a little too small to fit your pegs.
- Then, working from the side in which you’ll insert each peg, use the peg reamer to enlarge and taper the holes. Work one turn at a time, checking with the peg each time for fit. The goal is to have the peg fit firmly in the hole, with the small end of the peg flush with the opposite side of the neck, or just sticking out a little bit.
- Drill a 3/32” hole through each peg, just a little outside the gourd neck.
- Using a file or a rotary cutting wheel, make three small notches on the top of the bridge and two small notches in the nut. Make sure they’re spaced evenly, and far enough apart to suit your fingers.
- Tie the leather bootlace into a loop with a square knot and loop it over the dowel at the base of the gourd. String the banjo by tying the end of a length of monofilament to the leather “tailpiece” and running it up over a notch in the bridge, over a notch in the nut, and into the hole in the peg. The short third string just runs over the bridge and into the peg. Turn the pegs so the string winds over the peg and tune it up! (Be patient; the nylon strings will take a little while to stretch in.)
Thank you Scott, this was a great tutorial. I did pretty well but have to get help with the tuning and strings. Hope everyone has as much fun as I did!
PS Scott, if you ever get a blog, YouTube or website going let us know and we will pass it along. Merci...
I have heard about green peeling gourds and am wondering if I should be starting that now. I do have green gourds in my garden. Do you know any thing about this?
Mary Knight - North Dakota
Green peeling is a technique which takes off the outer skin of the gourd while it is green. It is popular with carvers and other artists as it leaves a beautiful clear shell. It is however way too early to start green peeling. Keep tuned - we will be giving instructions on this subject in the September or October issue of Gourd Fever.
A couple of years ago I purchased four gourd lamps/lanterns from Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. I absolutely love them & am wondering if you sell anything like that. I’ve attached a sample picture.
If not, what type of gourd would I purchase to see if I could make one myself? Thank you for your help.
Those are beautiful lamps. I see many different types of gourds in the photo - large bottles, kettles and bushels. We sell 21 different varieties of gourds and for lamps, almost every one, apart from Minis and the other smaller gourds, would work. When ordering
state in the comment section that you want to make lamps and we will chose the appropiate gourd for the project. For your convenience here is the link to dried gourds. http://northerndipper.com/gourds.php
To view more lamps and other gourd art click here.
Wendy Bowes of Ontario created this wonderful gourd bowl. Wendy is very busy between her art and the infamous gourd gatherings for women at her place. Wendy is also a supplier of woodcarving supplies. Thanks for the photo Wendy. Your design and lacing are absolutely perfect!
Kim Simpson's First Gourd Purse
Hi Carolyn and Linda,
I wanted to share my first gourd purse, I hope you like it too. I started out in pottery and then began to work with pine needle trims. That led me to the awesome world of gourd art and now I am hooked and the kiln is growing cold. Thanks for the great products and support.
Kim your first gourd purse is striking. I can only imagine how gorgeous your second, third and fourth will be! Thank you!
Willo Treschow sent in this rare photo of some baby Great Horned owls that her husband Paul Barnes snapped while on his way to work one morning. Paul is an outstanding nature photographer and his portfolio contains nature photos from around the world. Thanks Willo for sending this our way.
Rural living witnesses the migration of summer and winter birds and all that goes on in between. In the spring the parents are busy mating, nesting and feeding and consequently there are many babies to keep us entertained. This fat boy looks quite content doesn't he!
These pretty birds are rose-breasted grosbeaks. We have not seen them before at ND farm so we think that they must be the youngsters. As you can see they just love the gourd feeders, as do the golden finches, and numerous other birds.
NEXT ISSUE: In September we are very excited to have as our featured artist Carla Leinwebe. Carla lives in the picturesque Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and she uses the natural materials in her environment to create and embellish beautiful gourd art. It is very original – we just know you will all love it.
Next month we will be announcing the winner of the Wartie Gourd contest. We would like to thank every one for their entries. It was amazing the ideas that people came up with using this bumpy gourd.
One more month and the kid’s are back to school. Life begins to return back to normal and peace will reign once again. Until then, thriving in the chaos….
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
Volume 3, Number 31
In this Issue:
'Sisterwind' - Artists Tess Eagles & Sister Martha Reed Visit Gourd Fever !
Scott Knickelbine - Tutorial: Making A Dipper Gourd Banjo With A Fur Collar
The August Gourd Growing Report
Dear Carolyn! PLUS Reader's Corner
Gourd Sightings & Trivia
Gourds and Geography
It Does Make A Difference
These gourds were planted in the last week of May. Here you can see the first of the flowers. They are
both male and did not appear until July 25. It is
highly unlikely that this plant will produce any
gourds which will reach maturity.
This is a picture of the lush gourd field at Northern Dipper. These plants were also planted in the last
week of May. The big difference is location and
the number of heat units each receives.
Ontario days and nights are sizzling and
gourds love heat. Victoria, located on an island,
has a 3 pm ocean breeze most days and it
cools everything down, including the gourds.
“I always admired my sister Martha. She influenced me
a lot and always encouraged me.”
“Tess started doing her art later in life and she surprised me because I didn’t even know she could draw! Tess has been creating beautiful art since then.”
Native Americans On Horses With Blankets by Tess
"Our grandfather was an artist. He painted with oils
and covered his bedroom walls with paintings. He
did lots of Florida scenery. I remember spending a
night with my grandparents in Clearwater Florida
and he taught me to draw cartoon faces. I must
have done a hundred of them. My sister Martha was
8 yrs. older than me and was very close to him. She spent lots of time watching him paint. He was very impressed with her talent at such a very young age."
"My sister and I are the direct descendants of a very famous Indian Chief of the Ojibwa of Northern Michigan and Lower Canada. Chief Waab-O-Jeeg’s daughter, Ozaw Guscoday - Way Quay, married a
white trapper John Johnston between 1600 and
1700. They had eight children and one of their sons, William married and also had 8 children. One of the children was George, who had a daughter Eva. Eva
is our grandmother. The work we do is inspired
from all Native American traditions and beliefs."
Tess and Martha
Large Drum by Tess Eagles
This drum has a great tone.
Tess's Gourd basket
"There is nothing like a gourd with a thick wall
& a skin pale & clean like the one pictured above. That beautiful colour and the unscarred shell - I love that. I like to leave large areas unburned just so that the colour & naturalness of the gourd is alway there."
Tutorial: Dipper Gourd Banjo
You can follow the blue line to get an idea as to where the cut line should be.
Scott uses the kitchen table to draw a cutting line for the dipper banjo.
Taping a piece of sandpaper to the table Scott
sands the cut edges even and smooth. There
should be no wave in the edge. This method can
be used for drums edges too.
Prepared goatskin is cut a little larger than the
opening in the cut gourd.
Scott uses brads rather than tacks on this project
as he wants the fur to show.
Completed dipper gourd banjo with a fur collar
On all gourds on farm visits only.
For directions and hours click here.
Corn broom is gorgeous in a gourd rim. This hand dyed corn broom comes in 3 colours - red, blue & turquoise.
These high quality dyed pine needles are perfect when used as rims with gourds or in basketmaking.
To view some amazing gourd and pine needle baskets by artist Maggie LeDuc click here.
Welcome Happy Ontario Gourders!
The H.O.G.S. - From the left: Bonnie MacLeod, Lois Dean and Debbie Russell. This group is very creative and they know how to have a good time too!
On Saturday July 21st the H.O.G.S.
(Happy Ontario Gourders) got together at Northern Dipper Farm to create with Paverpol,
an easy to use sculpting medium.
Paverpol is a water-based hardener and is environmentally-friendly, non-toxic &
harmless to people, animals and plants.
This gourd tree was created by Lois Dean using Paverpol.
Lois Dean is a Certified Paverpol Instructor
and is the distributor of this excellent product.
As well, Lois offers informative classes at her studio, which are always educational and
enjoyable. Lois is located in Southern Ontario.
For more information on Paverpol and on the classes email Lois at
To view some of Lois's gourd and Paverpol
trees check out her blog at
The GROW REPORT
In August you will be winding down with the
hand pollination. There is not enough time left
for any newly pollinated gourd flowers to reach the stage of a mature gourd in Canada so don't waste
your time. There is still some work to do however
but in a couple of weeks you can just relax and
let nature take its course.
1.) Trellised gourds: If you are growing on wire, check that the wire is not growing into the gourds. Using 2 hands gently pull the gourd out and re-position. If
your gourds are large and heavy and do need extra support use discarded pantyhose. Place the gourd in
the "top" of the pantyhose and tie it up using the legs.
2.) Ground grown gourds: Go through your gourd patch and place your gourds in an upright position. This will ensure that you will have no flat spots on the sides of the gourd.
Powdery Mildew can be a problem at this time of year. It is a fungus caused by a spore, which is carried by the wind. It will appear as small grayish white spots on the leaves. Once it gets hold it will cover the plant and eventually kill it.
If you do get powdery mildew cut off the infected leaves and destroy. (Do not put in your compost heap.) There are a couple of methods you can use to alleviate this problem. In Ginger Summit's book "Gourds In
Your Garden" she recommends 2 Teaspoons of
baking soda & 2 Teaspoons of lightweight horticultural spray oil mixed with 1 gallon of water.
Spray both sides of the leaves well.
Another solution is to go to your Garden Centre, as
they will be able to recommend an appropriate
solution to fight powdery mildew.
For more information on this fungus click here.
Tip of the Month
To keep your burning tips clean use a stainless-steel scouring pad. Better yet buy a cleaning system which most manufacturers of solid-state burners sell.
They will prolong the life of your burning tips.
For a link to the Proxxon cleaning system click here.
It is true that one woman's junk is another
woman's treasure. We spotted this square molded
mini gourd at a Saturday morning garage sale
and bought it for 50 cents. This gem will be
woodburned and given to a friend at Christmas.
Kitty Cats Rule According To Royal!
She likes the cat food...
Royal and Hannah sunning themselves in the
mid-morning heat. Royal and Hannah formed a tight bond when they travelled across Canada together
in the front of a pick-up truck. Hannah loved
staying in hotels, especially when there was take-out!
"When is lunch again mom?"
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1535 Myrtle Ave
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7
Northern Dipper Farm
5376 County Rd 56, RR # 2
Cookstown, Ont, L0L 1L0