artists, growtips, info & more

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      Horse gourd with an antler base by Dorcas Schauberger 
In This Issue: This month we are so pleased to have with us Ontario artist Dorcas Schauberger. Dorcas is a remarkable woman. Her art encompasses carving and painting utilizing a large variety of mediums, and for the most part, her skill set is self-taught. At 74 she is a ball of energy working part time, participating in two hiking clubs, working out at the gym on a weekly basis and spending anywhere from 20 - 80 hours working on individual pieces of art. Dorcas is interesting, personable and very creative as you will soon learn from the interview we had with her. 

    Black Australian Swan with a hand carved head and neck.             Dorcas designed the body using a palm tree frond.

Garden planters are a welcome addition to any yard and can make an apartment balcony look awesome. Gourds are ideal planters and they come in such unique shapes. They are especially effective when grouped in three's. Planter interiors must, however, be waterproof and made water-resistant otherwise they will mould and rot over time. 
This month our mini tutorial is on how to waterproof a planter using a product called Mas Epoxie.
The newest inks and pigments at Northern Dipper have had a wonderful response and we have had letters thanking us for the tutorials regarding these products.

For hands-on classes, Northern Dipper is offering a series of mini tutorials with prices ranging from $7.00 - $10.00 per workshop. Times for the August schedule will be listed on our website.

So here we are; back from vacation from the east coast. We had a relaxing time visiting Carolyn's daughter and other family, beachcombing, sleeping in and staying up late. We felt just like teenagers!
Now we are ready to get back to business...first thing on the agenda is to cut the grass. Wish the grass and the weeds took a holiday too.
Here are some photos of Peggy's Cove, a famous fishing village found in Nova Scotia. It is a photographer's paradise and the pace is slow, the people friendly.

 Peggy's Cove
 This boat is a dory and although larger boats have replaced the dory, you will still see fishermen & dorys out in the ocean.  
 This famous red & white lighthouse is one of the most recognizable lighthouses in the world. On the lower level is a Canada Post office where mail goes out to all parts of the globe.

To learn more about this beautiful place click here:

Dorcas Schauberger

    Dorcas selling her carvings and gourd art at a local venue.

Dorcas's interest in creating sellable items began from necessity as much as a creative spirit just waiting to be developed. It was the mid-60's and Dorcas was a self-supporting mother of three boys. She had to find a way to supplement her income so she just dove right in.

One of her first projects was turning egg cartons into floral bouquets. For the vases she would heat old 72 RPM records on a hot plate until they fluted and took the shape of a bowl. She also did a lot of crocheting, knitting, rug hooking and weaving with different textured wool and cords using a driftwood frame. Needlepoint followed, along with 3D paper tole or decoupage.


   A Wartie teapot. The sprout is the neck of a kettle gourd. Apoxie Sculpt was used to make all the little Wartie   bumps. The handle is an old antique spoon found at a local thrift shop.
Carving has been a constant in Dorcas's art repertoire. There is nothing more rewarding than being out on the trail and finding a piece of wood or fungi and giving it a new life for someone to enjoy. And although she claims she is not a bird watcher she does spend a lot of time studying birds to see how she can improve her work. It may take 70 - 80 hours to carve one bird and this does not include the time to do the habitat.

When asked if the wood "talks to her" she replied no but added that she may observe a piece of wood for sometimes up to a year or more. All of a sudden, for some reason, there it is..."get me out of here" so she does!

This red-headed pintail drake stylized gourd is both carved and painted. This combination of techniques is one Dorcas uses  often as she details every feather.

Dorcas was familiar with gourds but it was when she attended Gourd Fest and saw the competition gourds that she was really turned on. All the shapes, sizes and creations...she was impressed and thought "I can do that."

Pyrography is one technique that Dorcas uses often, and for her carving, she uses micro tools. In the drake pictured above each feather is treated separately. It is very technical and time-consuming but the outcome is well worth it. 

 The head and tail rattles on this colourful snake had to be built up to make it look realistic. It took hours to burn in all the scales.
 This turtle looks like he is fossilized.
On feathers Dorcas uses oil paints as water based paint and acrylics can cause a split in the feather's barbs. 
Three wonderful sons have always encouraged  Dorcas to create something new. Plus three beautiful daughter-in-laws and five grandchildren, the oldest being 22 and the youngest 13, keep her busy. A favorite past time is going on a hike with the grandkids collecting rocks to paint on, old cedar roots, and on good days, perhaps an old post with the barb wire still attached. 

A couple of days per week Dorcus still enjoys working at a local bakery. She also belongs to two hiking clubs. This August Dorcus is off to Newfoundland with 11 other hikers where they will hike for 7 days, 7 hours per day. To stay fit gym visits are part of Dorcus's weekly schedule too!
Dorcus has a very full life ripe with adventure and challenges. She is an inspiration to us and most likely to many others who are reading this newsletter. And yes Dorcas...after our interview I went and pulled out my old carving knives; that log in my back yard has been sitting there far too long!
Thank you Dorcas for sharing your art and your life with us. Have a safe journey to Newfoundland. We know you will have a marvelous time - Newfoundlanders are so friendly and their island is very unique to Canada. Bon Voyage!!!
Carolyn and Linda

Tutorial: Waterproofing Gourds Using Mas Epoxie
by Carolyn Cooper    

This month's tutorial on using Mas Epoxie was inspired by a big old jade plant of mine that was in desperate need for repotting. I decided that a gourd would be an ideal planter but wanted to make the interior both water-repellent and waterproof. 


Mas Epoxie is a FDA approved two part system that is very easy to use. Each kit comes with 16 oz Mas Flag resin, 8 oz medium hardener, 4 pairs of gloves, and 4 mixing cups. You will need to supply a paintbrush which I purchased at the Dollar store as the brushes cannot be cleaned or reused again.
The finish will be clear and shiny. Do not try to add any colourant to the mixture.
Although this product has little or no odour we recommend that you use gloves, a respirator mask and safety glasses. Follow the instructions in the kit.
The gourd interior must be clean and dry. For this jade plant pot I was not concerned about getting the interior perfectly smooth. If the inside is going to be visible, extra sanding of the gourd interior may be something you may want to take the time to do. Shake out all the loose pieces of gourd scrapings and dust.
Mix two parts resin to one part hardener. I save small margarine and yogurt containers for this as the containers can't be reused. Do not mix too much as  it will begin the hardening process immediately. For this pot I used 4 oz of resin and 2 oz of hardener. Mix for about a minute and using the paint brush, begin brushing mixture onto the gourd starting in the center and working up and out.
I have a tendency to put it on thicker when I know I am just doing one coat on a piece such as this pot where the looks of the interior doesn't matter.
When I do bowls and dishes the interior is going to show so I use two lighter coats of Mas Epoxie and sand between coats. Wear a mask and sand in a well-ventilated place. I prefer to do sanding outdoors.
Now you can enjoy your own water-proof planters and bowls with easy to use Mas Epoxie. For more information about this product click here.

Reader's Corner
Hi Carolyn,
I hope you had a nice holiday. I am from Indiana, Purdue University county. I am 65 miles NW of Indianapolis. I have been working with gourds for the past 14 years and use to do a lot of festivals. Now, due to the economy, I stay pretty close to home doing only local shows. Here are some photos of my work.

Thanks for the newsletter; it is very informative and well-done. I read my first issue on your website and was very impressed. I have now subscribed and will look forward to it every month.
Debby Remsburg

Hi Debby,
Thank you very much for these photos. Your work is lovely and the sea grass and pine needle rims really set these pots off.

Good luck with the shows. Many people are staying close to home but as we have seen in the past things will have to turn around at some point. Lets just hope it is not too long.

Glad you like the newsletter. We have fun doing it and are constantly thrilled how gourds can bring so many great people together.
All the best,
Carolyn and Linda

Size Is Important When Crafting A Mbira
Dear Carolyn and Linda,
I would like to order a gourd larger than 14" please, the larger the better. The ideal shape would be the canteen or tobacco box but the kettle or bushel basket would also be possible.

Here is a photo of the gourd I bought from you last year. It is now a wonderful resonator for my mbira. I cut the gourd, cleaned it and added the shells - Canadian ones that I collected when visiting Nova Scotia last year. As you can see the shape is important, this is the minimum size really.
Happy hols,
Hi Catherine,
Welcome back to Canada! Your timing could not be better. We have some huge gourds that are perfect for instruments or fruit bowls. We'll arrange a time - it will be nice to see you again.
Talk to you soon,
To view the speciality gourds click here - 

Mini Workshops Rule!
Hi Carolyn,
I know I just saw you yesterday but I wanted to drop you a line to tell you how much we enjoyed your mini workshop. The concept is cool and I was amazed at how much I learned in such a short time. You will see me again soon.
Sylvie Pearson 

 The mini workshops are relaxed affairs with lots to do. 

NEXT ISSUE:  Every once in a while you will meet someone who you just know is a very special person. Our September featured artist John Remi is such a man. After retirement as a builder he began puttering making bird houses and feeders. Not your run of the mill houses - these are designer houses. He also does a line of incredible gourd houses for purple martins and other birds.

In addition to John's artistic abilities what makes John really unique is that he contributes the money he makes from his art to the Children's Health and Hospital Foundation of Saskatchwan. To date he has raised thousands of dollars. He is also involved in fund raising with other organizations. We are very impressed with John's energy and generosity and are just thrilled that he will share his art and his life with us in the next issue of Gourd Fever.

The Canadian Gourd Society is holding their annual gourd festival in October on the 24th and 25th. Northern Dipper will be having some exciting demos throughout the day so keep your eyes open...details and times will be listed in next month's newsletter.
Well that's it  for now folks.  Enjoy August - wishing you hot sunny skies and a light summer heart.
                                         Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
                                                             © Northern Dipper 2009

 PS We welcome stories, ideas and comments. Please send to


   Volume 5, Number 55 


In this issue
Dorcas Schauberger: Necessity Fueled A Lifetime Of Artistic Creativity 
Notes From The Gourd Patch: Setting Those Gourds Straight! 

Tutorial: Water Proofing Planters Using Mas Epoxie

The Lone Gourd by Sherry Davidson

Reader's Corner & Gourd Sightings

Catching Up At Northern Dipper
August Specials
10% off all dried gourds
Farm visits only. For more info click here.

  Upcoming Shows
Northern Dipper will be at the following venues. Please stop by & say hello.
The 31st Annual Quilt & Craft Show
Dates: August 8th & 9th.
Where: Cannington Historical Museum

For info (including map) click here.
Marshville Heritage Festival
Dates: Sept 5th, 6th & 7th.
Where: Heritage Village Park, Wainfleet, Ont. For more info click here.

     New Products       Five New Colours in the
Adirondack Alcohol Inks
The vividly coloured Adirondack inks are acid-free, fast dying and will produce beautiful batik and hand dyed effects. In addition to gourds they can be used on many different surfaces. 
Red Pepper 
Pitch Black
Terra Cotta
For more info about the inks click here.
For tips on using these inks click here. Once in click on Issue 37.
Embossing Powders
Gives gourds a dimensional finish. Look
for some how-to tips in next month's newsletter.
For more about embossing powders
click here. 

  Dorcas Schauberger
Dorcas rode a motorcycle for 20
years but was hit a few years ago
which ended her riding days. Her sons then bought her a computer (to keep
her off the road) which she enjoys
very much. Her attitude is that
sometimes something good can come
from a bad experience!
                Wall Hanging 
 This relief carving was done 
with a fallen log Dorcas found on one of
her hikes. Dorcas prefers the old weathered look so therefore adds as
 little colour as possible to her work.
This wise owl will provide a cosy home
for a family of birds. Dorcas has no
formal training in painting and states
that sometimes she struggles until
she feels comfortable with the results.
"Join a club. You will learn lots by
listening to others. Do not hesitate to experiment and do your own thing.
Take advantage of all the different mediums and textures to add to your
work. I am still exploring with every
new project I start."
"Most of my ideas are based on what
 I see in books and on the Internet. Then
 I add my own personal touches, sort of put my own spin on things..."
 This perky piper began its life as a maranka gourd.
A fruit bowl embellished with philodenium leaves.

"I used to enter wood show competitions and have won several ribbons but because of all the different mediums I
work with now (gourds, yams, fungus, slate shingles, cypress knees, leather, hockey pucks and golf balls) no
categories exist for me to enter."
"Yes I carve hockey pucks. One year instead of giving out cups to the local
junior hockey team, they received pucks with their portraits carved into them. I
am happy to report they were thrilled."
This birdhouse is great with the two tabbies keeping watch at the door!

  Notes From The Gourd Patch 

August will feel like a bit of a holiday
after the past month of nightly pollination
 in the gourd garden. There are still tasks to be accomplished but in the northern climates, even though you will still be getting flowers, you can stop the pollination as there is not enough time
left for those gourds to mature. 
 1.) By the end of August the mini
gourds will appear to be dry. Do not harvest these gourds until the vines
 are dead. This is usually October,
after the first hard frost.

2.) Go through your gourd patch and
turn the ground grown gourds upright. Look under the leaves as there will
be some hidden from view. Turning
is important for if they are left on their sides they will end up with a flat spot
where you do not want them.

3.) Trellissed gourds may need additional support due to their weight. Pantihose work well for this job. Place the gourd
 in the bum section and tie the legs to
your trellissing.

4.) Cucumber beetles have subsided
by now but still keep your eye out for
that dusty gray powdery mildew.
Keep your gourd garden clean from
debris. It is amazing the problems you
can avoid with this simple task.
And lastly, do not, under any circumstances, harvest your gourds.
They may look big, but are still growing!  They are not mature.
Good luck, your job will soon be over
and it will be up to Mother Nature to
dry those gourds over the winter.

Reader's Corner
Marlene Leeson, artist and self-employed business woman from Plevna, Ontario, dropped us a line in the mail. It simply stated "Getting a bit more creative with
 the gourds. Enjoy, M." 
Gourd Chickens by Marlene Leeson 
Marlene is a fabulous artist and we featured her in Issue 33 of Gourd Fever. To learn more about Marlene and her art click here. Once in, click on Issue 33.
 Marlene's interpretation of an emerging dragon

Nice to hear from you Marlene. Maybe
we'll see you this summer. If not stay in touch. We always love receiving mail from you. Carolyn


We received this letter and photos from Gail who wrote:

Hello Northern Dipper,
Here is what I made with the gourds I
got from you. I am quite pleased although I am not sure how it would compare. I am wondering if I should coat the
inside. It was fun to do for sure.
Thanks again  - I might have to order more gourds in the future and will keep your email on file. Gail
What is an ipu heke? 
The i
pu heke is a traditional Hawaiian
drum which is used in hula. The ipu
heke provides the rhythm for the
chant and the dancers.

This instrument is played by stamping
 it on the ground or by slapping it with the palm of the hand or the fingers.

There are two types of ipu. One is the
ipu heke, a large instrument which uses two gourds in its construction. The
other is the ipu heke 'ole which uses
one large bottle gourd.   
To learn about this ancient Hawaiian drum click here.  
To learn the basics in playing the
Hi Gail, 
Thank you for sending in the photos and letter. It is always exciting for us to see how the gourds we sell end up.
I am not certain whether coating the inside will make a big difference in the sound. I'll have to make a couple - one coated and one not to see. I know they sound fantastic uncoated so maybe when we coat we are just creating work for ourselves. And we don't want that!
If you wish to pursue gourd instrument making there is a book called Making
Gourd Instruments by Ginger Summit and Jim Widess. It is full of excellent photographs and instructions on how to make percussion, string and wind instruments. It is a must for anyone who drums, strums or blows.
For your convenience here is a link.
Keep in touch and once again thank you for sending in the photos of your Hawaiian drum. Many regards Gail,

  The Lone Gourd by Sherry Davidson
This is the 6th in a series of letters by Sherry Davidson. This letter was dated January 4, 2009
Dear Carolyn,
I was up north this weekend and the lone gourd is covered with snow. He is on top of the hill (believe it or not it is the septic tank - must be getting great nutrients)...should I try to unbury his lordship or leave well enough alone. Think I'll leave him under his thick insulating blanket. I'll will be back next weekend to check up on him. Happy New Year!

Gourd Sightings
 For those of you that like Westerns
 The Magnificent Seven is a classic. It is
the story about seven gunslingers
who are hired to protect a Mexican
village. Big name actors including Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and Eli Wallach.
This movie is filled with gourds...bowls, water jugs, musical rattles, serving
dishes - I've never seen so many gourd sightings in one film!
To learn more about The Magnificent Seven click here:

Published by:
                PamelaGrossi                    Victoria, B.C., V8R 2Z7

Northern Dipper
5376 County Rd 56
RR2, Cookstown, Ontario
L0L 1L0, Canada
(705) 435-3307
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Northern Dipper Farm - 5376 County Road 56, RR2, Cookstown, Ontario, L0L 1L0, Canada