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.
The Gourd Master Sam X holding 'The Girls' Boat Party.'
This photo puts into perspective the scale of Sam's work and how detailed it is. How many gourds do you think it took to complete this piece?
In This Issue: This month we are honoured to present The Gourd Master Sam X, an extraordinary artist who is making waves in the international art world. Sam's work is well known;
particularly in his home town of Sylvester, GA, where in February, they proclaimed a Gourd Master Sam X Day! Sam's art has been exhibited in museums and galleries, and is in many private collections including those of Maya Angelou, Attorney Johnny Cochran and Eryka Badu.
Please welcome The Gourd Master Sam X, his art and his glimpse into African culture.
Carolyn and Linda attended the Florida Gourd Show (February 22-24,2008) and arrived back very excited about this well organized and fun venue. They filled their days attending workshops and met some incredible gourd artists and enthusiasts. As well they sourced out some great new products (which we will introduce next month) to add to their already fabulous product line.
To finish off we have some terrific photos from Gladys Gaerttner, who has been working with gourds for four years, and some great letters from you our readers. Just think, it will soon be April - time to start planting those gourd seeds, but in the interm, during these last lingering weeks of winter, please take a few minutes to escape into this early spring March issue of Gourd Fever.
The Gourd Master Sam X at the 2007 Ohio Gourd Show
Carolyn and Linda met The Gourd Master Sam X at the Ohio Gourd Festival and were immediately captivated by his art. He had transformed the natural gourd into objects of art that induced emotion, history, and the feeling of love of family and community. They began to converse and the words flowed, revealing a man with depth and social consciousness. This is what he said…
“At the age of four, my grandmother Lula inspired me to be an artist. I remember my grandmother sitting in front of the fireplace sewing a quilt for my bed and telling me how important it was to learn to use my hands. She showed me how to draw straight lines, and how to connect these lines in my imagination. She said, "You are an artist! Art is not just what you do, it is who you are!" I believe those words, and I am still learning how to connect the lines, not only to my art, but also I'm connecting the lines to the culture of the art world.“
"The Cycle of Life"
“I was forty years old when my hands first touched a gourd. I was walking through a flea market and saw seven gourds and immediately fell in love with the sound, the weight, the smell and the smooth artful surfaces. The touch was a process of instant transformation. The day I touched the gourd was the day I decided to do art full-time.”
“Previous to this I did not paint nor carve. I believe the spirit of our ancestors led me to the gourds so I would have a proper introduction to the arts. I had always wanted to carve, but did not have an understanding of it. But, working with the gourds gave me insight on wood burning, painting and carving.”
Prayer For Peace
We asked Sam what his background was? His work is spiritual, enlightning and a beautiful portrayal into African culture. What is it that motivates him…what is behind this unique individual that can create such emotion through his art?
"I know I was led to the gourds by the wisdom of the wise ones among my ancestors. To do art on the gourds is to tell wonderful stories about my people. Stories that are happy and joyful, dealing with celebrations like naming and wedding ceremonies, as well as the stories about the history of slavery."
"I was born and raised in the small town of Sylvester, GA. I, and many other youth, grew up asking questions about slavery and the slave trade. As a child, I got no answers to those questions so I took it upon myself and studied 23 books on the subject, including "The Slave Ship Wanderer"
by Tom Henderson Wells. This saga is not just about the transporting of human cargo from Africa to the Western Hemisphere, rather it is a tale that will lead you to understand the psychological struggles, and the state of existence of black people in America that stem from the roots of slavery. This story will make unambiguous the sheer difference between physical slavery and mental slavery, that which still holds many of us captive today."
The intricate carving and painting of this cedar chest by The Gourd Master Sam X deplicts the slave ship called The Wanderer. Sam X uses this chest in one of the presentations he does for various groups including several
corporate-sponsored diversity programs.
"In order to retrace some of the steps my ancestors took, I had to go back to Jekyll Island, GA… an island, which is almost 200 miles from my hometown. In 1859, just off the coast of Jekyll Island, was the last successful, large-scale importation of slaves. The slave ship was called, The Wanderer and the captain of the ship was Captain Charles Lamar. He, along with 4 to 5 other men, walked 36 Africans, 12 mules, 3 wagons and 3 domestic slaves, who were helpers looking after the Africans, into Worth County, GA, which is the county of Sylvester, GA. The book stated that for some reason one of the domestic slaves, John, was left behind in Worth County. I had carved the cedar chest three years before I read about John."
Sam's art is detailed and beautiful.
The Gourd Master Sam X has had a lot of press since 1997 in many newspapers and magazines for his art, workshops and presentations. He has exhibited at shows and galleries since 1998 and is currently creating 100 pieces for the Kiaca Gallery in Columbus, OH. The opening is scheduled for August 28, 2008. The workshops Sam X does are lectures and hands-on illustrations, along with wood burning and painting gourds. For fun Sam likes to do some workshops in the local schools. These sessions are well-received by the students.
When asked, “What are your future plans?” Sam X replies, “I don't think it is wise to tell my future plans. To tell my plans takes away my freedom to change my mind as an artist.” So we will sit tight and wait. We know that whatever the future does hold for The Gourd Master Sam X, it will be wonderful!
The Sister's Blue Jet
Sam we would like to thank you for your contribution to this newsletter. You were an absolute pleasure to interview and we love your creative spirit and art. Keep us posted on what you are up to down the road. Merci!
Northern Dipper will be closed from March 6 - 17.
No orders will be shipped during this time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Canada Blooms Spring Garden Show
March 12 - 16th, 2008.
One of Canada's best garden shows held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) on March
12 - 16th. Come see us at Booth # 500 - we would love to meet you.
For details about the show click here. http://www.canadablooms.com/
Canadian Doll Making Association
April 25 ( 6pm - 9 pm) & April 26 (10 am - 3 pm)
Many doll artists are integrating gourds into their art.
Seeds, seeds, seeds!
Northern Dipper has 23 varieties for sale and some varieties are selling fast. Get your orders in but remember, in the northern climates, do not start until April. For seed details click here.http://www.northerndipper.com/seeds.php
Dipper Gourd Banjo by instrument makerScott Knickelbine
Dear Northern Dipper,
I am interested in building a gourd banjo. What seeds do you recommend that I buy, or do you sell a gourd appropriate for that purpose.
I'm getting ready to order my seeds and was looking for some info. I want to build some gourd banjos and was wondering what gourds would be appropriate for these instruments. Any ideas and do you carry them? Thanks for your help.
Hi Liz and Art,
The seeds you want are Bushel seeds. Bushel gourds are large (8” – 18”) and have a fairly thick wall. It is best to grow this variety on the ground, as they are very heavy when they are green. Dippers, Canteens and Tobacco Boxes are also popular among banjo makers and these can be trellissed or ground grown.
Look for our grow guide beginning next month here in Gourd Fever. The advice is from the pros and if you follow it, and if Mother Nature is cooperative, you will have a bumper crop!
Here are a couple of websites you may find useful. One is a banjo tutorial, and the other, the history of banjo making. And yes, by the way, we do carry dried Bushel, Dipper, Canteen and Tobacco Box gourds as well.
Here is a website about the history of the banjo plus an introduction to some outstanding 'banjo makers.'
Hello Northern Dipper,
Could you give me some tips on growing gourds in England? I grew some last summer at my mums as I'm short of space. A few started to bud but then they got a mildew growth on them and the vine died. Is there a certain time to plant the seeds out side or do I start them inside? Every time I do some research they are always conflicting!!! I don't know whom to believe. I really look forward to your newsletters, as the stories of success are so good to hear. I would really appreciate some help.
Thank you for your letter. The weather in England is very similar to the weather found on Vancouver Island here in Canada. There are really only two seasons – wet and dry!
Gourds originated around the equator and require a lot of heat and a long growing season to reach maturity. In England it is difficult to grow gourds outside. The mildew you experienced is due to the moisture and as you know, there is no way around that. It would be best to start your seeds early inside and grow in a greenhouse. That would be your best bet for success. Otherwise you can try to grow outside in a southern exposure where your vines would receive the optimum number of heat units.
Keep us posted on how it works out for you. We are always interested in both gourd growing and gourd art from around the world. Good luck Lisa,
I saw your article for applying Adirondack alcohol inks to gourds in the last newsletter. When applying the alcohol inks to gourds, do the gourds have to be sealed first before applying the ink? After applying the ink, do the gourds require a sealant, such as an acrylic urethane spray? I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on these questions. Thanks. Tom
That is a good question Tom. Before applying these easy to use Adirondack Inks the gourds need to be clean and dry. After applying the inks, seal according to where they will be ... meaning will your project be placed indoors or outdoors. For outdoor work Deft Marine varnish from Lee Valley is fabulous. For indoor projects I like Krylon spray varnish. Here is a link to the inks for you.
Send in a photo of your finished project Tom. We would love to see it. Carolyn
Last month we were pressed for space so we didn't have a picture of Royal in the newsletter. Thirty minutes after it went out we received our first of a few letters. All they said were "Where is Royal?
Here's our little puppy Royal lying with her constant companion Annie Kat. Royal can run but she can't hide - at least not when it comes to Annie. This cat absolutely loves this dog - throughout the day she is like a little bee constantly running towards her hive .
Hi Linda and Carolyn,
We wanted to tell you how exciting it was meeting you at the Florida Gourd Show. You are both very nice and so knowledgeable about gourds. So willing to share information with us “newbies” – you really know how to put a person at ease and spread that ‘gourd glow!’ We love your newsletter where all the artists are spectacular and as for the rest of it – it is never boring! If you would ever like to present someone that is just learning, drop us a line.
Paul and Rhoda Wood - Kentucky
Dear Paul and Rhoda,
Don't be surprised if we do drop you a line. We feature many different people; some with only 6 months experience and some; many years. Many people do write in about being featured and when that happens, we are very happy. See you next year in Florida...Linda and Carolyn
NEXT ISSUE: We will be catching up with Hal Sager, a master mask maker, whose work is well known through out the US. Hal has been busy the past few months creating new masks and he would like to share these with you next month.
The Florida Gourd Show was just great and we aren’t quite ready to shelf our memories yet. We have more photographs...it will feel like we are all reliving the event, and a surprise featured artist gracing our pages, one who I might add, we just met in Florida!
As we will be sliding into April, it will almost be time to start your gourd seeds. April is the month we will have our first Grow Report. These reports will run every month until harvest. The way we see it is what is happening in our gourd garden should be happening in yours so get your seed orders in now
so you will be ready.
Add in some new products, a new workshop schedule, letters and trivia and it will be another full issue! Take it easy everyone, until next time...
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
© Northern Dipper 2008
Volume 4, Number 38
In this Issue:
The Gourd Master Sam X - Connecting The Lines
Florida Dreams - The Florida Gourd Show
Dear Carolyn! PLUS Reader's Corner
Gourd Sightings & Trivia
A Few Photos...The
Florida Gourd Show
Here is Carolyn holding the beautiful gourd she won in a raffle at the Florida Gourd Show. Standing with her is the artist who designed this winner.
On Saturday evening there was a big dinner for everyone followed by a raffle and auction. To top it off, there was a mask and hat contest! This exotic looking mask in the picture was made by one of the contestants.
Here is Linda playing the lute she made at one of the workshops. Her teacher Geoff, sitting beside her, joined the group on Glen and Madeline's bus for a mini jam session. He was the only one that could play properly but it was one memorable evening!
The Florida Gourd Society is very active and hosts the annual gourd show along with many other activities.
Their website is:
The Gourd Master
"I am often asked why my work is so spiritual and emotional. And, I always answer, I am trying to evoke a substantial, positive response to the person viewing the art."
For The Love of You
Tribal Ritual Mask (wall hanging)
"Some people are taught by universities while others are taught by the universe. I am blessed to be taught by the universe. I believe the gourd is a medium that teaches expression between the earthly world and a world of good spirits."
The Beach Lady
Bronze Ancestral Altar Figure
The Royal Family Horseback Ride
My Jamaica Girl
The gourd is a serious medium when it comes to communicating on an artistic and spiritual level.
Lovebirds in Ceramic - A Table by
Fellow Artist Pam Sparrow
The Gourd Master Sam X standing on
his colourful porch.
Gourds by Bonnie Gibson
Southwestern techniques and designs
Gourd Pyrography by Jim Widess
A beautiful book enjoyed by novices and professional artists alike.
Glorious Gourd Decorating
by Mickey Baskett
Packed full of easy to understand designs and techniques.
To see these books click here.
The birds love Wartie gourds.
(6”, 7” and 8” only)
We have sold out of our 12" + kettles but have lots of 6", 7" and 8" in stock.
All Gourd Dyes
50 cent sale!!!
* Mini egg & mini bottle
All 3" and 4" sizes
(These will be picked randomly)
To view the dried gourds click here -
To view the gourd dyes click here -
Art by Gladys Gaerttner
Gladys started working with gourds four years ago. She first saw gourds at a craft show and thought they were beautiful. Originally from Toronto, Gladys moved to Southwest U.S.A. in the 50's. That, she says, is where she gets her inspiration for her gourd art.
Gladys has sold her gourds at craft shows and pow-wows and has just found out that her art has been accepted in a juried craft show. Needless to say she is thrilled to death!!!
You are going to do very well Gladys. Your art is superb and we love your bright colours. We are hoping that you might like to be one of our featured artists one day.
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