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This pretty gourd was created by California artist Jan Rollenhagen. The gold rim brings out the subtle colours in the birds and compliments the natural shell of the gourd.
In This Issue:
We are very pleased to have with us, Jan Rollenhagen, an artist who has come full circle. Jan began her art career as a successful fashion designer and then moved on to explore the wonderful world of paper. For the past five years Jan has been having fun with a gift from nature - the hardshell gourd. Please welcome Jan, she is interesting, inspiring, and an absolute delight to be with.
Looking out at my gourd patch I am amazed that my crop has come so far in such a short time. It seems as though I just planted those tiny seedlings and now I am just waiting for the moment when I can harvest. There are some real beauties, both large and small. They are still very green and some are beginning to get their first showing of mold. Now the question is when and how I should harvest. In this month's Gourd Growing Report will be all the answers I need for harvesting plus a short article on green-peeling.
Jan doing demos at the Lone Tree Gallery in Nevada.
An Inspiration To All That Meet Her
This hands on approach always attracts a crowd.
It is easy to understand where Jan gets her inspiration for her gourd art. Jan lives in Northern Nevada with her husband, in an area about 10 miles from Lake Tahoe. The scenery is breathtaking, high desert surrounded by mountains. The area is full of wildlife including owls which are a fascination to any nature lover. During Jan's walks, she is constantly aware of the form, grace and colours of nature. These impressions influence Jan's work, and in turn, influences us, her audience.
Jan has been working with gourds for 5 years but her life, even as a pre-schooler of 4, has always been filled with art and design. At 8 her parents enrolled her in classes at the Cleveland Museum of Art and after high school Jan received a scholarship to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Little did Jan know then but the next 20 years would see her work as designer, marketer and seller of her own line of speciality undergarments.
Jan recalls "Upon graduation I was hired as a designer for ladies swimsuits and underclothing. I was flown to California to work, started from the ground and worked my way up to the most well known company of OLGA'S. I then worked with Mastectomy patients, and started my own corporation, designing specialized undergarments, which I received a U.S. PATENT. Once I exited the business world, I was ready to pursue my love of art."
A Coy Koi !
Jan initially worked in oils and pastels and then discovered sculpture with paper. These paper castings are incredible and we learned, when talking with Jan, that many of the techniques she uses she developed herself. Jan has had 3 shows in New York and sold there as well as from her website. She still has some of her cast paper sculptures and if there is interest she will sell them.
These days gourds are Jan's passion and have been for the past five years. Looking back Jan states that a large box of mixed gourds changed her direction with a natural ease. She says she picked up a large gourd and fell in love. She explains that everything came togeather for her in this gift from nature...her love of shape, fitting, patterns, colour and sculpture...Jan quickly realized that this medium was her creativity at it's fullest.
New techniques are learned by experimentation, books and by participating in various workshops. She states she loves carving and that this skill did take some development in the beginning. Betsy Roberts of Gallexy Gourds worked with her and mentored her skills. Betsy helped Jan find better tools to achieve the look Jan wanted and encouraged Jan to go further.
Jan also attends gourd festivals such as the one that is held at Leiser Farms in Sacramento. Since she has such an extensive background in art she spends a lot of time talking to the vendors and then plays with the information. It allows her to create new techniques for her art.
Currently Jan is working on new designs for two upcoming shows. One is the Art Expo at Lake Tahoe, California and in November there will be a showing at the Lone Tree Gallery in Minden, Nevada. Jan also supports local art groups and will show her art when they have special events. She will also be involved in a Studio Tour in late Spring 2009. Jan is very busy and will at some point consider holding workshops at her studio but for now she is immersed in the creative side of her art.
To view more of Jan's art and to view her upcoming schedules check out her website at:
Good luck Jan in all of your creative pursuits. We really enjoyed your art and following your life's journey; a journey that always included design and independent thinking. Keep in touch Jan and thank you!
It's Harvest Time
Dear Northern Dipper,
As a first time grower I have babied my gourds since the seeds went in the soil. I have had good results but now don't know what to do now that the fall is here. Can you please advise me?
D. Wood Saskatoon, Sk.
Dear D. Wood,
We get many letters such as yours at this time of year. There are a few rules that will ensure that your harvest goes smoothly. The most important is:
1.) Do not harvest your gourds until after the first hard frost.
2.) If you used trellising you can just leave the gourds there over winter. The frost, snow, wind and ice will not hurt them and when trellised good air circulation is guaranteed.
3.) When cutting the gourds from the dead vines leave 2" of stem attached to the gourds.
4.) If any gourds are cracked discard. If they are paper thin (can you put your thumb through them with very little effort?) discard as well.
5.) To overwinter gourds, pallets work well. The pallets allow for air circulation and the gourds are easy to get at if you want to turn them in a couple of months.
The gourds will get mouldy during the drying period so don't store them in your house...it is unhealthy. A garage, barn or backyard are much better environments for drying gourds.
Lastly clean up your gourd patch. Pick up all the vines and burn if possible. A clean gourd patch eliminates powdery mildew spores, cucumber beetles and other pests.
Good luck D. Woods and everyone else who witnessed the life cycle of a hardshell gourd.
Dear Northern Dipper,
A short note to thank you for the informative visit the other day. You gals really know your stuff and you are a pleasure too! Looking forward to your new books, especially that one on coiling by Catherine Devine. I've done years of basket making and am excited at trying something new. Will be signing up for a workshop so I'll see you soon.
Hi there Gwen,
It was a pleasure meeting you too. It was fun wasn't it! We are looking forward to the new books as well - 4 titles in total and yes - Cath Devine's great book is included in the mix. To the left are photos of other visitors we have had in the past couple of weeks...some are shopping and some were here for a workshop in our new digs. See you soon Gwen, Carolyn and Linda
Here is Bernie and Fel who dropped by to search out large gourds to make Hawaiian drums with. Here they are holding one that they brought to show us. Bernie and Fel run a school for Hawaiian dance and the students range from 5 years old through to seniors. (The little ones are so cute!!!)
A Gourd Toad by Lee and we love it!
The body is a Wartie gourd and the legs are fashioned out of Apoxy Sculpt.
NEXT ISSUE: Next month we are pleased to present an artist that is new to the world of gourds. Vera Mordue's background is that of a painter and her painting on gourds is fresh, bright and cheerful. Vera is bound down the path of success - she is already selling her gourd art at a local shop. At the private nursing home where she is working all the residents want some as gifts as well for both themselves and their family...Vera may just have to quit her day job to keep up!
We will have a report and photos from the Canadian Gourd Society Gourd Fest which was held on Sept 26 and 27th in Toronto. Canada has some very talented artists and it will be our pleasure to share some of this work with you our readers.
There will also be a surprise or two to brighten up the dark days of November. Until that time have a wonderful October and a safe Halloween.
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
PS For a great Halloween project by our pal Patty Palmer click here and then click on Issue 8.
In this issue:
Jan Rollenhagen- An Artist's Life Comes Full Circle
Celebrating The Gourd Harvest
Dear Carolyn Plus Readers Corner
Northern Dipper Updates
Northern Dipper will be closed from Oct 1 - 8, 2008. All orders and
emails will be responded to after
we re- open on Oct 9th.
Carolyn and Linda have once again picked up some fantastic new products. One is a sealer that will water-proof the inside of gourds. It is safe and can be used to repair fiberglass, wood and metal as well.
Also 4 new books join the already extensive listing of Northern Dipper books including 'Coiled Designs for Gourd Art' by Catherine Devine. Check these new products out at
Here are 2 new additions that have been added to the Northern Dipper's unique museum collection.
Halloween Fun -
Necklaces by Joan Scott
Fret Work by Bonnie Macleod
"When working with gourds everything came togeather - My love of shape, fitting, patterns, colour and sculpture...this is my creativity at its fullest."
We love the fluidity of this piece.
This gorgeous owl is painted on a large zucca gourd.
The nest completes this cutie.
Grapes in paper
"The cast paper involves a lot of time and mess. First I would develop the design and then do a detailed drawing on paper including depths. Several clay models followed and then I would create the molds. I would squish paper pulp into the mold, dry and assemble. From start to finish a minimum of 40 hours would be spent on the smallest project. The framing I would do last."
"The gourds inspire me. Some speak to me - let me know what they want to become. The 'Owl on a Branch' was the first, next a large Zucca gourd was the perfect canvas for the lion. It's funny because I always thought, when artists would say things like - this tree is speaking to me - that they were handing out a line. I honestly can't say that anymore."
Jan burns the designs into the gourds and uses dyes as much as possible. She loves the transparency of the dyes which bring out the natural markings of the shell. When dyes don't work Jan uses only white or black paint.
ADVICE TO NEW ARTISTS
"Start on an easy project. Take a workshop or two and find a good supplier of gourds and tools. The more you work with gourds will quickly allow you to find your favorite techniques."
"Most importantly don't worry if you are doing something the right or wrong way. The key is creativity
and sometimes an error
will turn into your best piece."
As gourds dry sometimes the skin will peel away.
If any gourds are cracked throw them away. The chances are they will not dry properly and will in fact rot.
Snow and ice will not hurt drying gourds. Here are two marankas keeping each other warm during the long winter nights.
Gourds after the first hard frost.
This is the time of year to do green peeling. It is easy and will leave a flawless shell. Using an exacto knife gently scrape the exterior skin from the shell. Wipe down with water and bleach and let dry.
Carolyn and Linda's new workshop space is lovely with lots of natural light and room for many people.
During a mid - morning break people are invited to have tea and coffee outside around a roaring fire.
Here Jade is saying goodbye to Peter and Jennifer who are on their way to Alberta. Jennifer is fairly
new to gourding but she sure knows what vehicle to drive when she
goes gourd picking!
Gourds were spotted on the TV program Will and Grace. Will's mother was trying to get in the mood and served soup in gourd bowls.
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