Note: If using Outlook click the above bar where it says “Click to download photos” The photos are the best part!
On the left is Priscilla Wilson and on the right Janice Lymburner. Priscilla creates most of the art and Janice looks after the business end. Between the two of them they have a wealth of talent and experience!
In This Issue: We are honoured to feature Georgia natives Priscilla Wilson and Janice Lymburner, owners of The Gourd Place. Priscilla and Janice's business has expanded considerably during the past 32 years and these women have done it all. Most of all they had a dream and through the ups and downs of life their dreams came true. Their story is both fascinating and inspiring.
Gourd poetry we delight in! Our pal David Dix has written a poem that will bring a smile to anyone who has ever grown a gourd vine! David is an extremely intelligent man who has a way with words, and we have included for your own enjoyment, a link into his blog The Waukesha Sewer Raccoon News.
Last but not least, for those of you with young children, we have a movie introduction where one of the main characters is a small bottle gourd. Yes he talks and jumps and even seeks adventures. So there you go...enjoy!
Priscilla Wilson &
Co-Owners of THE GOURD PLACE
Janice modeling an avant-gourde mask.
It takes a certain amount of courage to come up with an idea and run with it. In 1977 it was particularily difficult as women weren't always encouraged in the realm of business, and the options for women were limited compared to today's standards.
Enter Priscilla Wilson and Janice Lymburner. Against all odds these two women began living the gourd life, and now, 3 decades later, they run a retail shop and a museum, have several diverse product lines (all nature related), gourd gardens and wildflower displays in the summer, and most recently, Priscilla published a book called Gourd Girls. Trials and tribulations have plagued them on occasion and insurmountable problems have cropped up over the years, but throughout it all, the situation was eased with humour, pure determination and the support of friends and family.
These luminaries are gorgeous and suitable for any occasion.
Priscilla and Janice are partners both in business and in life. Back in 1977 they were both teaching yet Priscilla knew that it was not really for her. Despite the sharp learning curve ahead of her she took the leap and delved into growing gourds.
The first couple of crops were a challenge. If only those gourds could produce as easily as those rural weeds they would be in business! With the help of friends they finally did get a good crop from both their own fields and the fields that they rented. At harvest time an annual tradition began at The Gourd Place, and within a few years Priscilla and Janice's harvest parties had became legendary.
1987 Gourd Gathering Party
Each harvest party had a theme, a dinner and a ceremony to follow. Invitations were sent out far and wide. In 1987 the invitation read as follows:
Dear Prospective Gamma Alpha Gamma Gamma Initiates:
We trust that you are as delighted to receive this sacred invitation as we are to extend it to you in this our 10th year. A moving and awe-inspiring ritual of initiation awaits you. Please study your metaphysics, fast for five days, and limber up in preparation for the ceremony.
Yours in the mystery of the gourd....
This gourd faced monkey greets you in the gourd garden.
During the winter of 1977 Priscilla bought her first gourd tools and began to create gourd art. She began with wood burning and then invested in a Dremel with which she began carving. She loved the effect of the carving and became quite expert at it. She began experimenting with dyes and various other mediums and as a natural progression of things, began signing up at the local craft shows.
During this time Janice was still teaching but on weekends and in the evenings she would be at Priscilla's side contributing with ideas and hard work. During this time they began to visualize opening a shop. They continued to do shows and their dream of something more permament flourished. In 1983 they built their first shop and in 1991 moved to their current location where they make Gourd Impressions pottery as well as gourd art.
Gourd Impressions Pottery
The Gourd Place began with gourd art and throughout the years has developed new product lines and interests. Gourd art is still well loved by the buying public. In addition, for the crafters in the crowd, there is Gourd Intentions, which features raw gourds and supplies plus there is a museum which presents gourds from around the world.
Wildflowers have always been a part of Priscilla's life and in 1988 she developed a new product line which included a wholesale/retail T-shirt business. The sale of books, seeds and prints filled the new wildflower shop at The Gourd Place. Large swathes of wildflower gardens in bloom still continue to give pleasure to customers every year.
In 2000 Gourd Impressions, gourd influenced pottery, was born. In 2006 the technique was patented and in 2008 a licensing agreement with the Pottery Barn, a large home furnishing business, was completed allowing Pottery Barn to copy a couple of the bowls.
The lastest addition is a fabulous jewelry line called Sticks and Stone-Wear. This will be added to the website soon so keep your eyes open.
Every December The Gourd Place participates in the Foothills Guild Studio Tour. Mark it on your calenders - directions are on the website.
The Gourd Place has a beautiful retail space.
To close Priscilla would like to add these words:
"I am deeply thankful that I chose the path I did, unlikely as it was, and stayed on this path - most of all because I have experienced the Creative Force in increasingly profound ways. As the years have gone by and I have continued to create, I've become more and more aware of the connection that is strengthened when I am able to open to this force and trust that it is with me. This has led me to a belief that the reason people find such meaning in art - in whatever form - is because the act of creation that brought it into being connects all who experience it with the ultimate Creative Force!"
"There are no words really for the depth of my gratitude for this. I have struggled throughout my adult life to find a theology, and it was right here with me."
Note: All black and white photos were taken from the book Gourd Girls.
To learn more about The Gourd Place click here:
Thank you Priscilla and Janice for contributing your interesting story to this newsletter. We realize that Priscilla was the main character in this article but at the same time we know that it would not have happened without Janice who worked at much of the 'behind the scenes' development.
We hope to meet you again and probably will at another gourd event in the upcoming year. All the best to you and thank you...Carolyn and Linda
Northern Dipper Happenings
This looks like way too much fun! This group of friends are on a 3-day retreat and dropped by Northern Dipper to say hello and pick up a few supplies.
Visitors from every walk of life participate in the workshops offered at Northern Dipper. Following is Jessica who is visiting from London, England.
Jessica is in her second year of school studying for her Masters at the Industrial Design at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. She has a fine art and furniture design background.
Gourds are quite a fascination for Jessica and she plans to take another workshop when she is back during spring break.
I have a problem and hope you can help me. I bought the most perfect gourd that I have been looking at for two months. I now know what I am going to do with it. (I had to wait until the gourd goddess spoke to me.) Last night I finally washed it and my heart sank when I found a couple of cracks in the shell. Is there anything I can do to save it?
June Bloom - Regina, Sask.
I know too well that sinking feeling when a crack or a blemish is found. It happens to us all at least once. Do not be dismayed - all is not lost. Sometimes cracks or blemishes can be incorporated into the art but sometimes they can't. Here is a solution:
Small holes and marks can easily be fixed by filling with regular wood fill sold at any hardware store. It is easy - all you have to do is fill the hole with wood fill, let dry and then sand with 150 grit sandpaer. A few layers may be required to make it even or flush with the rest of the gourd. Always remember thin layers are much better than thick layers.
For cracks you should take an extra step and drill a small hole at either end of the crack - do not touch the crack but place just before the beginning and end of the crack. This will stop the crack from growing any larger. Then just fill the drilled holes and crack with wood fill, let dry and gently sand.
Let me know how it works out for you. Send a picture of your finished project. We would love to see it.
Canada Blooms Display 2008
Hello Northern Dipper,
I saw you at the Canada Blooms Garden Show last year and am wondering if you will be there again this year.
JP - Toronto, Ont.
The spring shows begin in March and we will be exhibiting at two of the best. From March 5 - 8th we will be at the Stratford Garden Festival. It is small, intimate, with high end vendors and displays. Canada Blooms, March 18 - 22 is large, exciting, a real rush for both customers and vendors alike. To view the Northern Dipper show schedule click here:
See you there,
Hello there Northern Dipper,
Here is something you two gourd people might like to know about. It is a children's film called "The Secret of the Magic Gourd." Disney once again captures the magic and imagination of childhood. The film is about a curious boy who catches a mythical, magical gourd while fishing. Little does he realize the adventures that he and the magic gourd will be having together!
Thank you Tim for the tip. This kid's movie will be out in the U.S. and Canada on January 27, 2009. Looks like fun.
Carolyn and Linda
To learn more about this film click here:
To view a trailer on YouTube click here:
For those of us who live in a cold climate February is the longest, most awful month of the year. Fill your house with tulips & other flowers-it's guaranteed to be a mood enhancer.
NEXT ISSUE: We have followed next month's featured artist for some time now. Claude Francoeur, a French Canadian woman who grew up in Quebec, Canada, has always been a creative person involved in many different forms of art and play. Claude states that she never found her "niche" until she visited the South-West and fell in love with gourds. She learned gourd art from her sister who resides in Arizona and since 2004 has been producing some outstanding art. Her style is very individual and we are very excited that she will be paying us a visit in the next issue of Gourd Fever.
We received a letter last month regarding Danish Coil. This coil is a man-made fibre approximately 1/8" in diameter. It is used for gourd rims among other things. Next month we will be doing a tutorial using Danish Coil and as you know, once you have the basics down, the rest is easy.
February 14 is Valentine’s Day and it always brings to mind the lovely valentine's lamp that Ontario artist Lois Dean designed. Here is a link to the tutorial that Lois contributed to Gourd Fever. Once in click on Issue 12.
Cheers for now, see you next month...
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
PS If you have any stories, ideas or photos that you would like to contribute to this newsletter please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
In This Issue:
Priscilla Wilson and Janice Lymburner - Experiencing The Creative Force
David Dix - Poetry and Other Gourdly Things!
Northern Dipper Happenings
Dear Carolyn, Reader's Corner &
When surfing I happened upon Lady Katherine's Tea Parlor blog. On it was Hazel, a 90 year old neighbour of Lady Katherines. Hazel had dropped by for a hot cup of tea and with her, she brought her gourd bowls to show off.
Hazel is the creator of these wonderful gourd, straw and pine needle bowls.
These interiors are gorgeous using decoupage. This technique will strengthen the shell when the gourd is thin.
Lady Katherine is located in Mississippi. If you are interested in rural life check out her blog at:
Priscilla Wilson &
Porcelain Lamps & Luminaries
In the year 2000, as Priscilla was driving down a country road, she spotted a broken gourd in a field which was filled with clay. Suddenly the light bulb went on and she thought 'Maybe the clay goes inside the gourd rather than the outside." She went home and began to experiment and before long a line of gourd inspired pottery was born. "Gourd Impressions" is unique and was patented in 2006.
Carved Bamboo by Priscilla Wilson
This book will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever grown a gourd vine or embellished a gourd. Anyone who has or is thinking of starting their own business will not be able to put it down either.
Funny, sad, honest and compelling this book is written from the heart. Priscilla and Janice began as young naive women who learned along the way about farming, business and acceptance in a rural community. Throughout the journey a host of colourful characters enter their life becoming lifelong converts to the gourd life. Gourd Girls is definitly a good read!
ADVICE TO NEW GOURDERS
"Try to avoid looking at and thinking about the work of other gourd artists so that you can find your own way as much as possible. Be open to the ideas and ways of working with gourds that will be uniquely your own. Each person has something special to offer, and some of the best inspiration comes in the early days. There's really something to that term "beginner's luck!"
"Although I enjoy and admire the work of many other artists, I have to confess that after almost 33 years of working with gourds, I still stay on guard against letting myself be influenced!"
Here Priscilla is riding Gourdzilla the sea serpent, a raft of sorts made from gourds. It was entered in the Fourth of July river parade in the local town of Helen. Priscilla states that it was hardly noticed among the hundreds of brightly decorated inner tubes but she didn't care as she and Gourdzilla went the distance. She knew that there would be other
gourd boats to follow!
Priscilla and Janice have a beautiful property with views of Mount Yonah and a lake where gourd sailboats amaze the public who visit. They have hosted a Regourdda i.e. Gourd Regatta where people made toy sized sailboats and after the race participated in a picnic on the grassy shores. The winner of the race won a blue ribbon and a certificate that proclaimed:
"This is to certify_______, having made a gourd boat with his/her hands, did on this day honorably compete in the Only Regourdda in the History of the World and thus made a lasting contribution to gourd history and the celebration of creatively independent spirits everywhere."
In 1978, during a craft show, Priscilla's wildflower designs caught the eye of a Neiman-Marcus display designer.Twenty-eight pieces were purchased and in the store were displayed draped with jewelry in elegant cases.
Side dish - this pottery is really attractive.
Janice looking happy with a hoe in her hand.
When thinking about Priscilla and Janice's life together it brings to mind a quote by Cesare Parese.
"We do not remember days. We remember moments."
In the book the Gourd Girls it is obvious that each moment is filled with a richness that cannot be duplicated. Thank you Priscilla and Janice for sharing your life with us.
Welcome To The World of David Dix
Gourds growing outside the door. David Dix is 72 and states that he has been growing gourds for a long, long time. No on second thought he muses, make that a long, long, LONG time!
A Poem by David Dix
Written for his blog
The Waukesha Sewer Raccoon News.
Gourd vines unfurl on the trellis
So fast now that a pulse is nearly felt
at the growth tips
Little buds that will be flowers
emerge from nothing
Up the wire mesh go the vines
a rung or two at a time
And the tendrils wave
and writhe in air
Wire to bend
Finding something to grab onto
they kink up
in tight spirals
like octopus tentacles
Twelve plants started from seed
in my south window sill indoors
fragile they were and now
They have enough
collective force to produce
a bin of future horns, rattles,
bowls and dippers
Or to make good on a sci-fi
and do me in...
I will not turn my back on them
At night through the open
bedroom window I hear them
muscling their way toward me
I could have stopped them once
but now they have
harnessed the sun
and they want to grow
all over me
I have to make a run past
this trellis in the morning
when I go to work
They might snatch an arm or pant leg
But I close the door on
the offending tentacles
and back down the drive
a struggle between an auto
engine and photosynthesis
So far the car always wins
and the tendril ends whimper
when their connections to the
mother vine break
and come bungeeing back at the windsheild
have begun to disappear
The vines have a way
of beckoning innocently
like a benign cobra
You have to stare at them
and you want
to move in for a closer look
because you are curious
These vines are young. In another week there will be no plastic peeking
through at all.
A popular wren house in David's lush gourd and flower garden.
Warbler in gourd feeder
David's Elephant Horn
The actual horn is self-contained; in other words nothing has been added apart from the trumpet mouthpiece. Quite complete music is played through the lip configuration. (embrouchure)
The ears David cut from another gourd.
Thank you David for sending in this poem and photos. Love the poem! I've read it many times and being a gourd grower I can't help but laugh because everything you describe is true!!!
To link into David's blog the Waukesha Sewer Raccoon News click here. It is entertaining, political and sometimes a little off the wall. We just love it!
"This cauldron he filled partly full of water, dipping it with a half gourd from an earthen jar that stood near, but he dipped cautiously, for water was precious."
This sentence was taken from The Good Earth which was written in 1931 by Pearl Buck. Beautifully written it paints a picture of what life was like in China at this time in history as seen through the eyes of a peasant farmer.
I read this book when I was about 15 and now, many years later, I find it just as moving as when I first picked it up. A dipper gourd used for water was mentioned at the beginning of the book.
For details and discussion regarding The Good Earth click here:
1535 Myrtle Ave
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7
5376 County Rd 56, RR # 2
L0L 1L0, Canada