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.
Gourds by Marlene Leeson
"I am a painter & have always been fascinated by gourds. I have an overwhelming number of ideas & would like to start experimenting more with carving, burning & coiling."
In This Issue: This month we are pleased to present featured artist Marlene Leeson. Marlene gave up the fast life in Toronto replacing it with the sleepy small town atmosphere of Plevna, Ontario. Inspired by the open spaces, small community feel and above all, the fresh air, Marlene has been revitalized. She has started her own home-based business and gourds are, of course, the major players.
Many gourd artists toy with the idea of making a living from their art and trade show venues are one viable route to consider. “The Name of the Game is Profit” (Part 1) offers practical tips on how to find good trade shows that will fit in with your marketing plan.
A Galaxy Far Away - Photo by Mark Stone
Our mailbag was overflowing last month! We love your letters, comments and photographs and wish we had room to publish them all.
As a special non-gourd related treat, we have some extraordinary space photographs by Victoria photographer Mark Stone. Space happenings are showing up daily in the media and Mark has included a recent event - a photograph of the lunar eclipse which occurred on August 28, 2007.
Crazy About Gourds
in Small Town Ontario!
Marlene is a self-taught artist and has taught decorative art for a number of years. She picked up her first gourd in September 2006 and hasn't looked back... the path was set.
"For me, gourds are the ultimate challenge, releasing a creative enthusiasm I’ve never experienced in the past. As far as I am concerned, when I see a gourd, no surface is safe!”
"My husband and I are “empty nesters”, replacing our children with two very “happy to be out of the city” cats.
We planted our first gourd crop this year and hope to harvest 15 of them at the end of the season."
Marlene likes to “dabble” with many mediums, including oil and watercolour. She primarily uses acrylics with gourds. Marlene enjoys crafting and multi-media projects. She states," I will develop different techniques into future gourd projects, such as, beading, sculpting, wood burning, and decoupage, to mention a few."
This gourd tortoise is charming.
"I have been teaching decorative painting since 1992 in various studios in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as out of my home. I primarily taught adult classes, and have not had an opportunity to teach children, although, who knows what the future holds? I took a short sabbatical, quit my full time job in the city and wisely moved to the country. We've been here since Oct. 2006 and love it. It's given me the opportunity to paint more."
Marlene has had no previous show experience and was thrilled and honoured to be part of the Arts by the Lake Show in Sharbot Lake, Ontario, on the August 2007 long weekend. This was her first show and it went very well.
Looking back she says, "I was initially very nervous whether people would enjoy my work, this was quickly abated from the onset! I was constantly surprised at peoples’ reactions – their fascination with the gourds, and the admiration of my artwork - all in all, very positive feedback."
Marlene has done her homework and has a bright future. "This past summer, I have attended shows, made contacts, and completed my research for next year, which I anticipate will be extremely eventful - I look forward to a successful 2008!"
We are certain that you will be successful and happy in your new business venture. Your work is beautiful and your presentation is professional. Your enthusiasm alone will take you far. Let us know when your website is up and running.
The Name of the Game is Profit...
Part 1 - "Finding Those Great Trade Shows"
Northern Dipper at Canada Blooms
The clean, interesting booth entices people and the great customer service is obvious as soon as the person enters.
Entering the realm of trade shows can be very confusing. There are hundreds of venues available and the big question is where to fit in? What is your budget and product line and how far do you want to travel? These are all points that you must take into consideration.
Trade shows are for selling product or services. In addition to this you will be working hard to get your name out in the marketplace. You may have other services that you want to sell, as is the case of some friends of ours that design fountains and do installations. They have a wonderful display complete with Japanese koi and running water and as a result, they do very well at selling the whole package.
Carolyn sets up demo tables. She is a strong believer in interactive learning and cares about the needs of her customers.
Finding The Shows That Fit Your Marketing Plan
Basically there are two main categories of trade shows: retail and wholesale. Within these categories are every type of show imaginable. Examples are gardening, Christmas, computer, museum, home and cottage shows. For the gourd artist, retail craft and fine art venues are the best.
Juried shows are normally excellent, as product must be approved before being accepted into the show. Juried shows, for the most part, do not accept mass produced goods and consequently product lines are original and high end. The attendees generally have disposable income.
To begin your investigation in finding a show here are two methods that work…
1.) Ask around! Walk the shows that you would like to exhibit at and talk to the vendors. There is a show circuit and these are the people that know which shows are great and which are duds. The reality is that it is the job of the show organizers to rent the space... it is the vendors that fill the booths that are in the know.
2.) Do some research and use the Internet to get show listings in your area. Make some phone calls and ask about attendance, the demographics of the attendees and what type of products others are selling.
Identify Your Target Audience
True Life Story: Many years ago when we were just learning about shows in a new area, we attended a Home & Garden Show that raved about the high foot traffic. Great we thought!! Not really it turned out...We should have been more thorough in studying the demographics because what we did not realize was that it was young families who were not after fine art, but mops, brooms and spot removers. With a couple of questions we could have avoided a wasted weekend not to mention, an expensive one.
Linda Setting Up. A plan helps in every aspect of getting ready and setting up for a trade show.
Once you decide on a show sit down and write a plan and a budget. The budget should include booth rental (include show services such as lighting and electricity), booth display costs, promotion or advertising if applicable, insurance, travel, hotels, food and miscellaneous.
Determine what product you will need and how long it will take to make it.
The ‘show package’ you will receive lists all the services available. For small market type shows the package may be only one page. Once you get into the large trade shows the package gets a little more involved.
The first thing to do is simplify things - pull all the pages that you will not be using such as booth cleaning services. Get your paperwork in early to avoid disappointment and if there is a discount on getting it in early, take advantage of it. At a large show you can save yourself hundreds of $ and a lot of stress by doing so. Remember - a good show fills up fast, a bad show does not!
Lastly make yourself a written schedule and review it often. Spend the time to look after the details. Today the show may seem a long way off but it is amazing how quickly that date will move up.
Next month we will have Part 2 of "The Name of the Game is Profit" We will look at booth location, display and other relevant topics.
Pam Grossi, along with partner Peter Bell, have
exhibited at trade shows around the globe. They began
their show careers at the Salt Spring Island (BC) Saturday morning market and did the One Of A Kind Craft Show
in Toronto for years. They have also exhibited at
wholesale shows throughout the U.S. (New York shows
for over 10 years), Japan, Germany and the U.K.
This gourd container was created by Carolyn Horly. Carolyn is new to the world of gourds and as you can see she is overflowing with ideas.
Carolyn, we hope, will be one of our featured artists in the new year!
Apoxie Sculpt sands and paints up beautifully.
I was wondering if I could use the Apoxie Sculpt to help thicken a gourd by using it on the inside. Is there some other product that one can use? I have some great gourds that I could use for masks but they are quite thin, and also some that would make nice boxes. Thanks for such a great online store!!
Thank you for your email. You can use the Apoxie Sculpt or the Apoxie Paste to make your thin gourds stronger but it would end up costing you a fair penny to do a large quantity. I usually save the Sculpt for doing sculpting or adding embellishment to the gourd. The paste is used as a filler and adhesive.
A more economical method for you to make your shells stronger would be to combine a decorative paint with white glue. Brush this mixture on the inside of the gourd and let dry. Use a couple of coats if necessary.
Please let us know if there is anything else that we can help you with. Carolyn
Carvers and artists often green peel entire gourds to
achieve a clear, uniformly coloured shell to work on.
Can you tell me where I can find information on green carving gourds? I want to do some this year and am not sure as to when to do it or the actual process.
Get ready to have some messy fun Susan. Green peeling is simply the process of scraping off the thin waxy outer coating or skin (the epidermis) which covers the gourd. Dried gourds that have nice clear shells with no markings have usually been green peeled. Using a knife with a straight, sharp blade or an X-acto knife gently scrape the outer skin off. Take your time. Do not scratch or cut the gourd shell.
Green peeling can happen any time after harvest. (see Grow Report) Choose firm gourds with no soft spots. Sometimes it takes a few weeks of drying to know whether a gourd is really mature. Any signs of collapse or rot that show up get rid of the gourd immediately. It cannot be saved. To maintain, wipe with a mild solution of water and bleach once a week. Green peeling does hasten the drying process. Carolyn
We love these pretty bowls beaded by Terri LaBrosse.
I read your newsletter and saw the gourd bowls. I thought I would send a picture of what we are doing down here in Tucson, Arizona. My name is Terri LaBrosse and I teach beaded gourd bowls. Hope you enjoy the variety.
Thank you Terri for sending these photos in. They are terrific!
Hey, thanks for this grand website. I got you from I don’t know where, but so lucky I did. I loved the link last month to Denis Gadwa the gourd-banjo maker and the tunes, still enjoying it all.
A Wisconsin gourd gardener,
David Dix Sr.
The Many Faces of The Moon!
Photos by Victoria Photographer Mark Stone
This beautiful black and white photo of the moon was taken by Mark Stone.
Here the moon looks like a jewel.
Thank you Mark for sending in these remarkable photos. Man has been fasinated by the moon and stars since the beginning of time and now with space travel this fascination is growing. Looking at these photos and the beauty that space holds, it is easy to understand why.
NEXT ISSUE: Next month we are both thrilled and honoured to feature Turkish artist Nurettin Taskaya. Nurettin grows his own gourds and shapes them to create original forms for his superb gourd lamps.The illumination from Nurettin’s lamps is magical as you will see in November's issue of Gourd Fever.
Look for Part 2 of “The Name of the Game is Profit", our series on trade show venues. Topics will include booth location and display, move in and setting up and looking after all those last minute details.
There will be a short report on the Ohio Gourd Fest which takes place on Sept 29-30 as well as a couple of other surprises.
Hopefully we will see some of you at the CGS Gourd Fest Nov 2 - 4. It is guaranteed to be a 'gourd' time! (Sorry I couldn't resist) Until we meet again....
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
© Northern Dipper 2007
Volume 3, Number 33
In this Issue:
Marlene Leeson - Opening New Doors in the World of Gourds and Business
"The Name of the Game is Profit" - Tips on Sourcing Great Trade Show Venues
Mark Your Calendars - The CGS Gourd Fest is Quickly Approaching!
Dear Carolyn! PLUS Reader's Corner
Gourd Sightings & Trivia
Ideal for Halloween Projects
To view a Halloween Tutorial and photos of wonderful fall gourd art click here.
Once in click on Issue # 8.
Perfect for Containers and Small Purses
To view dried gourds click here.
For directions and hours click here.
Northern Dipper will soon be selling
Irish Waxed Linen Thread.
This waxed thread is truly a pleasure to work
with. Coilers will not use anything else!
Look for this item along with a few other new products coming soon on our website.
" I am surrounded by inspiration. I love
working with gourds and consider myself lucky at this time of my life to be able to create with them"
Fantasy is so much fun to paint.
Here are a couple of fairies to
take our imagination away.
This gourd is lovely with the simple
"After 30 years in the insurance business,
I finally have a wonderful opportunity to
expand my artistic abilities and start a small business of my own. I am working on two commission pieces at the present time and
my web site is under construction and should
The native motiff on this gourd is striking.
Marlene was excited when she spotted these beauties at the Richmond Fair, a country fall event west of Ottawa.
(All photos were provided by Marlene Leeson)
It’s Show Time!
The Canadian Gourd Society
Gourd Fest 2007!
Brenda Chalfoux-Luscombe placed 1st in the
Best of Division plus recieved the People's
Choice Award at the 2006 CGS Gourd Fest.
WHEN: Nov 2 - 4, 2007
WHERE: At "The Hobby Show" International Centre, Mississauga, ON (Directions are on their Website)
WHAT WILL BE THERE:
Gourd Art Competition
2007 Fundraiser On Display
To view the CGS Website for details click here.
To view the Hobby Show Website click here.
Northern Dipper's Show Schedule
"The Hobby Show at Gourd Fest"
Stop by and meet Carolyn and Linda at Gourd Fest at Booth 117.
They would love to meet you and will
have Show Specials, a demo table plus some new products to show off!
"Artisans Museum Christmas”
Nov. 10th & 11th from 9am –5pm.
Hosted by the Simcoe County Museum
1151 Hwy 26, 5 minutes north of Barrie. Finished product only.
Apoxie Sculpt is so easy to work with. In a
Sept 15 workshop we started with decorations
on gourd bowls just to get a the feel of sculpt. Then we moved on and did character faces. Here are pictures of a few of the happy participants.
To learn more about Apoxie Sculpt click here.
Upcoming Workshops at Northern Dipper
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Instructor: Carolyn Cooper
In this class you will learn techniques using
paint and dyes to create some unusual and
stunning colour interactions. The finishing
touch will be a single band of pine needle
rimming. No two bowls will be the same.
For info on the upcoming workshops click here.
The GROW REPORT
I've just started growing gourds & am confused. I have gourd vines which are devouring my yard & have been researching how to harvest them.
I've found completely opposing instructions! Some articles insist that you MUST bring your gourds in for drying before it frosts or they all will be ruined - but when I read info by actual, professional growers like yourself it sounds like you leave them on the vine until the plant is dead.
I would really appreciate any advice - I would hate to lose it all because I made a dumb mistake at the end! I'm sure you understand.
Thanks ~Angela Shogren, MN
We get many letters like yours at this time of year. Here is the scoop on harvesting & drying gourds
in Canada and the northern U.S. where the first killing frost is often late October.
-Do not harvest any gourds until the first hard frost kills the vines.
- When cutting the gourds from the vine, leave at least 1” of stem intact.
- Place gourds on pallets up off the ground.
The key to drying gourds is good air circulation.
- Gourds can also be stored in a cold garage or shed. Keep them off the floor.
- Gourds grown on a trellis can be left on the
trellis for the winter. The ice, snow and wind
Clean your gourd patch of all dead vines &
rotten gourds. If you can, burn the vines to
destroy any insects or mildew and mold.
Gourds From Coast To Coast
Last month we asked for photos of gourd crops so here we go...
From Chester, Nova Scotia
Sherry Cosham is a "1st Time Gourd Farmer" and grew a very healthy crop.
Here is Sherry's "Gourd Guard" hard at work.
Her cat takes her job seriously and keeps
the pest population down. Sherry planted
catnip between vines which is her kitty's
reward for working so hard.
From Plevna, Ontario
This is Marlene Leeson's first gourd patch. Her vines died off with an early first frost up in the North Country! She packed her babies up into milk crates and brings them out in the sun every day. She adds that her husband was as excited and anxious of the harvest as she was.
(Marlene, read the Grow Report this month. There are tips on drying gourds.)
From Duncan, BC
Nick Hurst from Duncan,B.C sent this picture in of a gourd that he grew. He states that he got very few gourds even though he had great germination and greenery. Duncan is located on Vancouver Island and summer was very short this year with a small number of hot days & lots of cool nights.
Thank you everyone for sending in your photos.
We could have dedicated the whole issue on
gourd crops! The word is there were some grand successes & some not so grand. Not to worry - next spring will be here before we know it which
means another year & yes, another gourd crop!
Mark Stone's Camera
This is the telescope and camera that Mark
Stone uses to photograph the moon, stars & planets.
Tip of the Month
Harvest loofah as soon as the outer skin turns brown. To strip, soak in warm water and the skin will peel right off. Loofah contains hundreds of small, black seeds so peel them on newspaper.
Here is a gourd sighting from Ontario gourd
artist Bonnie MacLeod.
"I was home watching TV and I saw an episode
of "Iron Chef America", on the Food Network. What a surprise when the challenging chef used a gourd to mix millet in!"
Thanks Bonnie for sending this in!
For more info on Iron Chef America click here.
Time For An Adventure Royal!
Royal loves going on day trips especially
when she gets to hike through the woods and
climb rocks along the shore. After this outing
she was a tired girl. That evening we could hear
her snoring from the next room!
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1535 Myrtle Ave
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7
Northern Dipper Farm
5376 County Rd 56, RR # 2
Cookstown, Ont, L0L 1L0