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. 

 "Pantone Ink Bowl"
 This lovely pantone ink bowl was created by Florida artist Tonia Owen. This is one technique out of many that Tonia incorporates into her gourd art.  
In This Issue: This month we are happy to once again cast our minds back to the Florida Gourd Show where we met artist and teacher Tonia Owen. Tonia is a versatile artist with a whirlwind schedule. The mother of nine-year-old Danielle, Tonia is also the President of
the Florida Gourd Society and the promoter of a Florida Gourd Patch. Her energy is contagious so read on – it is just the buzz we need at this time of year! 
 In 2006 and 2007, at the Florida Gourd Show, Bev Dease entered her work in several categories. She was thrilled to have won in the Masters Division - five in the Best of Division plus sixteen first place ribbons, six-second place and one-third place...quite an accomplishment in just 2 years!
We are thrilled to catch up with Hal Sager, a gourd mask maker whose art is well known throughout the US. He has posted photos of his new work and it is absolutely superb. In addition we will have the first in our series on growing gourds. It is hard to believe it is that time of year again, especially when we look out our Ontario windows at the remnants of March's major snowstorm!


A new April workshop schedule, pictures from Florida and Canada Blooms, and a very unusual gourd sighting will make this April issue of Gourd Fever easy reading. To finish off we have a very cool sample of creative advertising sent in by Beverly Williams. Thanks Bev, we have looked at this a few times and think it is just brilliant.

  Tonia Owen: Artist, Teacher & Gourd Ambassador  
Tonia Owen with her constant companion, nine year old daughter Danielle. Tonia refers to her daughter as "my little gourdhead."  It would be fun to see some of the art that Danielle has done with gourds.
Linda Bond, co-owner of Northern Dipper, met Tonia Owen during the workshop Ocean Drums at the Florida Gourd Show. Linda was swept up in the content of the workshop where she learned how to make a two-sided drum, but even more so, she was very impressed with the instructor Tonia Owen. Tonia is outgoing, funny and very upbeat, and quickly proved to be an excellent teacher. Linda wanted to learn more about this woman whose love for gourds is apparent to everyone she meets. Here is Tonia's story.


Tonia’s appreciation of art and crafts began from her Grandma’s knee when Tonia was six. There was nothing more fun than spending an afternoon pouring over the old back issues of Pac - O - Fun magazines. And then, with Grandma’s help, Tonia would make a project which included needle and thread, paint and colour or even melted was great having a Grandma who loved to play. From those humble beginnings Tonia learned how to sew, crochet, quilt, cross-stitch and paint – in a nutshell, you name it and Tonia has done it!
As an adult Tonia got into the craft show circuit where people would look for the “painted light-bulb” lady year after year. At one of these shows Tonia met someone who was working with gourds, and the light bulb went on – or should we say off. It was at this moment when Tonia began to change her focus; her new medium became the gourd.
That was five years ago and over time Tonia began to give up her other crafts. For the past three years she has concentrated primarily on gourd art and has found that the many techniques she had learned previously could be incorporated into her current art.
Thinking back Tonia recalls that her first experience with gourds was not very successful. It was 1992 and she was working in a restaurant in Iowa. It was Halloween so she and a co-worker decided to paint faces on some pumpkins to put around the dining area. One of the patrons that stayed at the motel saw them, and told her about a gourd someone had painted for his wife. He explained how it eventually got mouldy, shrivelled and they had no choice but to throw it away. He asked if Tonia would paint a gourd for him as he knew it would make his wife very happy. Tonia agreed and after work went to a nearby gourd farm. She was ecstatic with her purchase, took it home and painted a funny face on it. To complete the project Tonia sealed it with 10 coats of varnish. She was so proud of it and the patron just loved it. He took it home and gave it to his wife.


A few months later he came in and told Tonia how it had rotted. What!!! Tonia was totally floored. She didn't realize at that time that you couldn’t paint on fresh gourds right off the vine! Years later, when she was properly introduced to gourds, she learned they had to dry before painting. Chuckling Tonia says, you live and learn – sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t!


Close-up of Horses
Deeply immersed in the gourd world, Tonia is a member of the American Gourd Society and the President of the Florida Gourd Society. She also runs the Manasota Gourd Patch in Bradenton, Florida. As you can well imagine Tonia is very active in spreading the gourd glow with both children and adults.


Tonia sells her art at a few Art and Craft shows in Florida and exhibits in a gallery in Sarasota. She has been asked to work with the libraries in the Tampa Bay area, which will be an ongoing project this year. 
Always ready to share her love of gourds Tonia teaches at the Florida Gourd Show. This year she may be teaching from her home too, so if you are in the area, be sure to sign up.
Linda Bond would sign up again and is hoping that Tonia will be teaching another instrument class next year in Florida. Linda is the living proof of Tonia Owen’s enthusiasm. She is still basking in the Florida gourd glow during her daily musings on her newly created Ocean Drum. Thank you Tonia, see you in 2009.
To see more of Tonia's art click here.
Tonia is the best! Thank you very much for sharing your art and your stories with us.  I had a great time in your class and just love my Ocean Drum. Good luck with your work with the libraries and your workshops - I know without a doubt you will be having a good time. Linda Bond - Northern Dipper

It's Been Awhile...
Hi Carolyn, 
Thought you may be interested in what I have been up to the past few months. Here are a couple of photographs of my latest masks. The single mask was commissioned and delivered to the Cahuilla Indian Tribe in California. The second double masks were entered into the Arizona Gourd Society Festival at the Pinal County Fairgrounds. This juried show was held in February of 2008. The masks were entered in the Masters Class and placed 3rd.
Hal Sager   
Hi Hal,
As you know we are big fans of yours and must tell you we think your latest masks are striking. We love the photo of the masks surrounded by their embellishments and the completed masks all dressed up. Your composition is lovely Hal. Thank you very much for keeping in touch and we look forward to hearing from you again. All the best in your travels, Carolyn and Linda
To learn more about Hal Sager from his website click here.
To read about Hal Sager and his wife Jane click here. Once in click on Issue 35. 

The Grow Report # 1-
Starting Your Gourd Seeds

     The Facts:

1.)     Gourd plants require heat and warm soil temperatures to reach maturity.

2.)     They take anywhere between 110 – 140 days to mature.

3.)     In cooler climates such as coastal BC, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland it is recommended that you grow in a green house.
Starting Your Seeds

1.)     Gourd seeds have a thick woody shell and can be difficult to germinate.

2.)     Sprouting times can vary between 5 to 20 days depending on the variety & the thickness of the shells. Start your seeds six weeks before your proposed outdoor plant date.

3.)     Soak your seeds in pure water for 24 hours using a glass pie plate or pot. The soaking will soften the shells and aid in both the rate and speed of the germination.

4.)     With small quantities of seeds consider sprouting the seeds between moist paper towels. (Don't let them dry out.) Place them in a warm & dark place. Once the seeds have sprouted transfer them to peat pots.
 5.) For larger quantities sow the seeds directly into peat pots after soaking.    

            Transferring The Seeds To Peat Pots
  1.) Three-inch peat pots are ideal for gourd 
                 seedlings as they can be planted directly into the ground.

2.)     Use a good quality potting soil mixed with vermiculite & peat to improve drainage. Do not be tempted to use garden soil – weeds, pests and disease may exist.)

3.)     Water the soil and peat pots well before planting the seeds. Plant 2 seeds per pot 1/4" deep in opposite corners. Lay the seeds sideways - you will get good germination and there will be no confusion on which end goes up and which goes down.
4.)     Top up with soil, press it down and water lightly.
5.)     Keep warm. If using a green house, heat at night.
Next month we will discuss planting the gourd seedlings outside. Included will be where to plant, soil conditions, and whether to trellis or ground grow. In Canada most people plant the May 24th weekend if the weather is permitting. 
To order gourd seeds click here. 

April Workshops at Northern Dipper
There is even a workshop on making rainsticks.
Northern Dipper has an excellent line-up of workshops scheduled for the month of April. 'The Cat’s Meow', a class for beginners, will teach the ins and outs of that easy to use sculpting clay, Apoxie Sculpt. 
If your passion is for rims and embellishments, the tenerife weaving or philodendron couching course may be for you. There is lots to choose from so check it out at  

Dear Carolyn
Hi there,
I just peeked in on my gourds on the back porch and was wondering if any of them are ready to be cleaned or is it too soon? I've got my Scrubbie ready. Jenn
Hi Jenn,
This is a perfect question for this time of year. It looks as though you have some lovely gourds there with nice shells and good colour. Unfortunately appearance alone cannot tell you whether the gourds are dry enough to clean and craft.
The final test is when you pick them up and shake them. If you can hear the seeds rattling around inside then you know they are ready. Do not use them before that as they will still be drying whether you craft them or not...remember Tonia's first experience with gourds! Thick walled gourds and especially Cannonballs may take until May to dry properly. 
Send us photos of what you do with these once they do dry. We would love to see your finished projects. Carolyn
PS A note of caution - when cleaning gourds always wear a good respirator mask. Mould in the lungs is not a good thing! For more info on respirator masks click here.
Reader's Corner  
Marlene Leeson 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 the major players.
               (From Northern Dipper Gourd Fever Issue 33)

 These gourd trinket boxes by Marlene Leeson are eye-catchers. The Japanese woman is wonderful and the blending of the colours on the fish - it is impressive. The rim on the lizard gourd is excellent as well - wooden beads can always
find a place in gourd art.

Wartie gourds are the perfect gourd in which to house these painted toads. They are so realistic they look as though they
are going to jump right off this page!

Sunflowers - a cheerful flower that brings a smile to everyone who sees them. We like the way the openings to these gourds
have been cut.
Thank you Marlene for sending these photos in. We love your art as you know - we have even ordered a couple of pieces for our shop. So happy to hear that you are doing well with your gourd business...we always knew you were a winner! See you at the farm this summer. Carolyn and Linda
To read about Marlene and to view more of her art click here. 
Once in click on Issue 33.
Please send pictures or comments to Reader's Corner. Click here to contribute.

NEXT ISSUE: Next month we are going to travel across the country from Florida to the State of Washington where we will meet artist Dynva Todd. We have admired Dynva’s work for some time now and are thrilled that she will be our featured artist in the month of May. Dynva’s gourd art is bold and her clay masks are quite extraordinary. Dynva also paints and her canvases have found their place on many walls. In addition to this Dynva is a fascinating woman so stay tuned – we guarantee that Dynva will inspire us all.  
The second Gourd Grow Report will be of interest, particularily for the first-time growers. By this time next month your seeds will have germinated and will have their first set of leaves. In May they will grow rapidly and by the end of the month, will be ready to pop in the ground. Cross your fingers that this cold weather breaks and we all get a nice warm spring.
Saturday, March 29 from 8 PM - 9 PM was Earth Hour 2008. Around the world individuals, corporations, businesses and government offices turned off their lights for one hour. One person may not seem to make much of a difference in saving our enviroment but collectively, it is monumental. There are many ways to get involved, from spreading the word or holding your own Earth Hour event, to making Earth Hour part of your everyday life at home and at work. To learn more about Earth Hour click here.  (Photo by NASA)

That it for now folks. As John Gay quoted, "We only part to meet again." And meet again we will, in next month's issue of Gourd FeverSo long for now...                                    Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
© Northern Dipper 2008

Back issues of our newsletter Gourd Fever are available at

Volume 4, Number 39 


In this Issue: 
Tonia Owen: Experimentation Is The Name Of The Game!
The Gourd Grow Report: Starting Your Seeds Indoors  
Snapshots! Reliving The Moments
of Festivals and Shows   
Gourd Sightings & Trivia  

Florida Snapshots
 This charming chicken by Glen McLean picked up a 2nd place ribbon in Florida. 
This is artist Gaston Touchette from Quebec, Canada. Gaston has picked up ribbons throughout Canada and the US
for his gourd art. 
 Gaston's prize winner as seen at the Florida Gourd Show. Gaston uses a fine sand in his art which gives it a
signature texture and appeal.

Tonia Owen
 “I love the feel of gourds, there is so much you can do with them. There are many techniques to learn and I just have to try them all. As strange as it may sound I love cleaning gourds too. It is exciting to see the beautiful patterns emerge from behind the mould. Yes I know I am unusual, but what can I say…
I just love dirty gourds!” 
Ocean Drums
 Favourite projects of Tonia's includes  musical instruments. Geoff Morgan is a mentor with his extensive knowledge of music and instrument making. At the Cherokee Gourd Show, Tonia always stops to watch Batt and Bobby creating their musical instruments. It was these two that encouraged Tonia to start making Ocean Drums.
The bottom of Tonia's painted Ocean Drum. 
We like the fibre rim and the design around the bottom of this vessel.
Nebraska Cornhusker
Tonia has lots of family in Nebraska. She made this for an uncle who farms.
Advice To New Gourders
"Never say you can’t do it. Never let anyone else say you can’t do it either."
"Remember everyone has their own skill level. We are not born with a paint brush or gourd in our hand. The key is to learn and practice."
"A favourite saying I have for all new gourders is 'It is all in the eye of the beholder.' I do believe this is true."
 This gourd was engraved after it was dyed with inks. The top was made with reed rush.
 "It is essential to try out a variety of techniques and products. If I hear about something new, I have to try it. I learn through books, pictures and from friends on the many Yahoo groups I belong to. I also take workshops at every opportunity. I learn a lot and have developed good friendships with people that I have met
 in the classes." .

      The gold on this gourd is inlay which is an easy to use product with big results.
 The soft colours of these water-colour pens are very beautiful.
 Tonia's Gourd Purse
 All photos were provided by Tonia Owen.

Hal Sager
Hal Sager standing with his supply of dried gourds.
 Here are the masks cleaned, woodburned and ready to dye and paint. 
The embellishments follow. Hal and his wife Jane travel around the world picking up embellishments, ideas and meeting with other mask makers. 

Gourd Sightings
Dr Brian Goldman bridges the gap
between the medical profession and
we, their patients.
On March 4, 2008, CBC Radio presented their weekly program “White Coat, Black Art.” Hosted by Dr Brian Goldman, he discussed with both patients and doctors that essential, yet unwelcome experience – the pelvic exam.
The program was very informative and funny and one fact caught my ear in particular. In historical excavations the first speculum was found – yes you guessed it ladies– it was made from gourd and bamboo!
To hear this program click here.
Once in click on “White Coat, Black Art” (mp3)

(The photo of Dr Brian Goldman is by Peter J Thompson, The National Post)

Canada Blooms 
Carolyn and Linda had a fabulous time at Canada Blooms, a premiere Canadian 
 garden show held in Toronto, Ontario. They were busy from morning to night and had to make a few trips back to the farm to pick up more gourds and product.
Their booth was colourful and unique. It was filled with finished art as well as gourd and art/craft supplies. That, in combination with the excellent customer service, drew the crowds in. 
Carolyn has a very 'hands on' approach towards teaching. Her  energy encourages even the shyest person to sit and learn about the gourds and tools.
Kent Nentwig sent in this picture of his wife Sally (who incidently is not shy) 
in a training session with Carolyn. Sally reports that the gourd ideas are perculating in her mind now and she can see herself being very busy in the near future. Kent says he and Sally are already planning their extensive gourd garden for this summer...I think Sally and Kent must have gourd fever!
Many people do not own a drill or hole-saw so Northern Dipper provides this hole-drilling service at the shows and on the farm with farm visits.
 This man had fun playing with the gourd puzzle which was on display.
Carolyn and Linda show a good selection of finished art at Canada Blooms. It is a good way to show the public all the things that can be done with a gourd.
This penguin is so cute with its woven belly and gourd wings or (do penguins have  flippers?) Yes of course they are flippers - penguins swim!
This is Barry who creates upscale
garden designs. Perhaps, if we are
lucky, he will send in photos of what he
 does with these bags of gourds.
Here is Carolyn and Linda with potter Vijaya Morrison of Rainforest Pottery. Vijaya is based in BC and teaches pottery as well as exhibiting at a few select trade
shows during the year.

Lost In Dreamland
Royal is having a reflective moment and she has a lot to be reflective about.
Royal was born in New Mexico and was found by a group of street kids when she was a few weeks old. She travelled
by freight train across the US and Canada and has lived in squats in New York, New Orleans, Florida and Hollywood. She is well-trained and will
not even take food from strangers
unless we give the OK. For a lab this
is a remarkable feat!
 At 12 Royal now has an easy time of it. She starts her day by having cat food served from a fork (Royal loves cats and thinks she is one) followed with 3 daily walks. At night she has a warm fireplace and a soft couch. What a lucky dog to have had such adventures when she was young, and now, a gentler lifestyle in her later years. We do love this dog...
in our eyes Royal is the tops!

Creative Advertising!
HEMA is a Dutch department store
which opened its doors in Amsterdam on November 4, 1926. Now there are 150 stores in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany. In June 2007, HEMA was sold to British investment company Lion Capital. HEMA's website is in Dutch and you can’t order anything but wait 5 seconds and watch what happens.
To view the HEMA catalogue page click...
To learn more about the HEMA stores click here.
Thank you Beverly Williams for sending in this great piece of advertising.
To learn more about Bev, her partner Paul and their art click here.

 Designed & Published by
Pam Grossi
1535 Myrtle Ave
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7

 Northern Dipper Farm
5376 County Rd 56, RR # 2
Cookstown, Ont, L0L 1L0
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