Note: If using Outlook click the above bar where it says “Click to download photos” The photos are the best part!
This beautiful gourd lamp, designed by Este Wiggill, is a work in progress. The burning is almost complete and then there are the 1000 holes to drill. This is going to be gorgeous once completed.
In This Issue: We are delighted to have with us Este Wiggill, an artist who is creating quite the buzz in Namibia, Africa. Este stumbled upon the calabash (gourds) about three years ago and quickly realized that value could be added with paint, burnings and natural embellishments. Like many of us, once she got started on this adventure there was no stopping her.
In addition to her gourd art she is making it her mission to introduce other people to this unique art form. Join Este as she unfolds the story about her relationship with the calabash.
"Cool!" so Andrew thinks as he watches Carolyn turning a gourd into a Halloween jack-o-lantern at the Wainfleet Show
The Canadian Gourd Society Gourd Festival is quickly approaching and the excitement is building for the volunteers and for those who are planning to attend. Northern Dipper, along with others, will be doing free demos on both Saturday and Sunday so be sure to stop by and say hello.
Before heading out to Namibia lets take a stroll through the gourd garden to check out the crop. Harvest time is right around the corner so here are a few tips on timing, storage and clean-up.
One hard frost will kill the vines off. Do not harvest until the vines look like the ones in the photo.
The magic of autumn is upon us and the gourds are hanging heavy on the vine. It is soon time to harvest the gourds.
The ice, snow and winds of winter will not harm the crop so when you think about where you are going to store them, outside is a viable option.General Points
1.) Do not, under any circumstances, harvest the gourds before the first hard frost or until the vines turn brown. The gourds will still be maturing and growing until this time.
2.) The key to drying gourds is good air circulation.
Gourds are full of water and the moisture evaporates through the shell during the drying process creating black mould. Good ventilation is a must.
3.) Do not bore holes in them to hasten drying. If you do just remember that a larger hole is better than a small one.
4.) If you have a plentiful crop pull a couple aside to green-peel. (Learn how to green-peel in next month's issue of Gourd Fever.)
For those of you that trellised your gourds your work has been cut in half. In short you can just leave them where they are for the winter.
Ground Grown Gourds
These gourds can be left where they are for the winter, however there will be a greater chance of bottom-rot.
Cut the gourds from the vines leaving about 3" - 4" of stem. Suggested storage would be off the ground on wooden pallets, up in chicken wire baskets (see following photo) or in a cold shed, garage or barn.
It is good practice to clean up your gourd patch in the fall. The vines may be harbouring disease or bugs which will hibernate in the soil and reappear next spring. If you are in an area that allows burning throw the dead vines onto the burn pile.
For First Time Growers
Your gourds are going to get nice and mouldy. This does not mean they are rotting.
If your gourds get soft you will know that they are rotting. Gourds like this have not reached maturity. Throw them away.
The gourds will turn from green to brown and tan. Go out once in a while during the winter and give them a turn.
Loofah are fun to grow and look beautiful on a trellis. They can be harvested as soon as the outside skin turns brown and crispy. The easiest way to clean them is give them a soak in the bathtub and then peel. They contain what seems like millions of seeds so a word of advice - clean over a garbage can.
That's It Folks...
Well this has been fun - quite the experience watching the journey of a tiny gourd seed. Now that it will be coming to a close I will once again dream about next spring when it starts all over again., And of those moulding gourds drying out in the yard just waiting to be turned into a work of art...yes life is good for this gourd grower.
Adding New Value To The African Calabash
Historically calabash have been used in some African countries since the beginning of time. In Namibia, where our featured artist resides, photos of calabash are on display at the Musee deI'Homme demonstrating how each tribe has their own style of decorating. Calabash are somewhat a rarity today however, and it is Este's goal to change that.
One day at the market, three years ago, Este spotted a pile of calabash lying there in their natural state. A ticking went off in the back of her mind and it was at this time, as she picked them up and made enquiries, she was bitten by that dreaded calabash bug!
In 2007 Este made her first batch of birdhouses, and then moved on to scoops and bowls. Finding books on gourd art was difficult but the internet proved to be a treasure trove of ideas, tutorials and information. Needless to say by this time Este was totally hooked.
The Hummingbird by Este Wiggill
This is Este's first attempt at recess work. The image was inspired by a stained glass lamp shade from Chantels.
The next thing you know she was teaching friends. Now she advertises classes in the newspaper, and for some who struggle with cash, offers free classes. Teaching inspires Este who is dismayed at the lack of gourd art around her. She states that the people who do use calabash, who are so naturally artistic, are not aware of where the calabash can take them.
She continues to try to instill the idea that people should work together as a monthly group to share ideas and experience. It could bring a lot of diverse people together for the better.
Este is always on the hunt for books on design; paricularily African design. She did find seven source books from South Africa, her favorite being African Design by Lunnell and Zandra. She states that this book will keep African art alive as it should be.
This is Silvanus, Este's gardener. He quickly saw the importance in learning the skills in working with calabash.
Este has sold more than 80 gourds and has now started numbering them. She also sells at the craft market and tries to make the green market once a month. Most sell by word of mouth as do her original watercolours. She would like to start selling from her website but that will take a little more time and investigation.
Future plans include finding more time to give Saturday morning workshops in Windhoek and perhaps travelling to the coast to give workshops there too. Apart from the pure joy in working with calabash, Este believes that they can be used as a tool in teambuilding. Currently she is working hard towards an exhibition at Studio 77 which will happen before year end.
On the personal front Este lives with Cleo, her six year old Boerboel. A large dog breed who is very protective of home, Cleo is like a pup when it comes to play. She loves to dig so Este gave Cleo her own personal hole under a tree. They do have to fill it in every now and again otherwise Cleo would dig her way all the way to China!
Este reads a lot; everything from sci-fi to the Labour Act. She loves light classics and of course the oldies. She laughs and relays how she went to a record shop a while ago and the sales person didn't know who Rare Earth was. Este was stunned!
All we have to say is that it was a good day when Este got bitten by that old calabash bug in the market. Este is enriching the lives of those around her not only in the teaching of skill and techniques, but also in creating an aura of kinship and friendship. Gourds have once again brought people together, and with Este as the ambassador in Windhoek, Namibia, the word is sure to spread like a welcome spring rain.
Thank you ever so much Este. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed working with you on this article. Keep in touch and let us know how your quest is working out.
To learn more about Este and her art click here:
(Be sure to check out the link to the Harnus Wildlife Foundation)
Here is a link to a good travel site on Windhoek, Namibia:
We have lots of mail this month but first we would like to share this news with you, our readers.
Linda Bond in full-dress uniform. She received an Exemplary Service Medal presented by Major-General Richard Rohmer.
Linda Bond, co-owner of Northern Dipper, works as a full-time paramedic when she is not busy with Northern Dipper.
Last month Linda was honoured with an Exemplary Service Medal which is an award given for exemplary service. Recipents must have at least 20 years of service with 10 years on the front line. Volunteer and community service work are considered in the nomination process as well.
She is an outstanding medic with skill, compassion and dedication to both her profession and to her patients. Congratulations Linda, we are very proud of you!
This is Sandy, a new customer at Northern Dipper. As you can she is happy she discovered gourds. To learn more about Sandy and her unique business click here:
I just wanted to take the time to email you all and tell you how WONDERFUL your newsletter is. I so look forward to reading all your helpful hints, suggestions, methods, etc. and those pictures, oh my goodness, such wonderful artists you have!
Here in Tucson, Arizona, U.S. of A., the Old Pueblo Gourd Patch also has fantastic gourd artists. I find such inspiration that there are so many folks who are jazzed by gourds, that no matter where they live, we have this marvelous medium to share.
Thank you again,
Thank you for your email. We have so much fun producing this newsletter and in truth, each month when we feature such talented and fascinating people, we get thrilled just like it was the first time.
If you or anyone in your group is interested in sharing their art with others around the globe, just drop us an email...we would love to hear from you.
NEXT ISSUE: We are very excited about introducing John Proctor as next month's featured artist. John, who is based at Earth Tones Studio in Haliburton, Ontario, tends to leave an impression through both his art and music.
John is a craftsman at building musical instruments and conducts workshops on drum-making including Djembe, Taiko, Ashiko and Frame drums. He also has workshops on building percussion instruments, many using gourds. As a certified Roots of Rythm teacher, he provides an innovative cross-curricular program that offers training to both teachers and students in fundamental rythms both ancient and modern.
John will be at the CGS Gourd Festival displaying his large collection of gourd drums, rattles, guiros and his newest creation "rain" gourds. For those of you that can't attend join us next month as we delve into the life of John Proctor.
There will be a short tutorial on green-peeling. This technique is popular among carvers and woodburners as it leaves a flawless shell with no markings. Peeling designs into a green gourd results in one of a kind art too. For those of you that didn't grow gourds keep your eyes open at your local Farmer's Market and in November, when winter is raising its nasty head, you can be nice and cozy inside green-peeling to your heart's delight.
To close we will have photos of the CGS Gourd Festival. (Can't wait to see this years competition gourds) This festival is a blast....lots to see and do and as you all know, gourd people are very nice! A perfect family outing on a beautiful fall weekend...be sure to mark October 24th and the 25th on your calendar.
See you there...
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
PS If you have any ideas, stories or ideas that you would like to contribute to this newsletter please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 5, Number 57
In this issueEste Wiggill - Breathing New Life Into The African Calabash
The Bulletin Board - Northern Dipper News
The Sweet Harvest: The Close of Another Season
Readers Corner, Gourd Sightings & Trivia
"The Bulletin Board"
Northern Dipper News
Open by chance every day between
10 AM - 5 PM. or by appointment. Please email at
When: October 9, 10, 11 & 12
Times: 10 - 5 daily
Where: Ball's Falls Conservation Area, Jordan, Ontario
Featuring over 140 artisans and crafters, childrens' attractions, live entertainment and more. Plus take a walk in the beauty of Ball's Falls.
For more info click here:
The CGS Gourd Festival
A celebration of gourd art!
When: October 24 & 25th
Where: Black Creek Pioneer Village, Toronto, Ont.
The Northern Dipper Schedule of Free Mini Tutorials / Demos at Gourd Fest
Note: These times have been updated and are correct.
Saturday, October 24
Batiking with Adirondack Inks
11:00 am - 11:20 am
Learn how to combine these acid - free, fast dying inks to produce beautiful batik and hand - dyed effects.
11:30 - 12:00
Demonstrations on how to use these beautiful powders to add dimension and vibrancy to gourd art.
12:30 - 1:00
Demonstration on how to use these unique fade-resistant inks as a solid colour and also blending effects. This demo will include how to add inks to Generation Green Gel Mediums and varnishes.
Gourd Luster Pigments
2:00 - 2:30
Learn how to add these pure mica powders to Generation Green products to add luster colours to your gourd art work.
2:30 - 2:50
Discussion and examples on how to use this versatile air drying sculpting material for sculpting on gourds, leveling unbalanced gourds to attaching embellishments.
3:00 - 3:30
This demonstration is for anyone who has previously tried leafing with traditional glues. We will be introducing our new heat activated glue which will make these techniques simple for the first timer to the more experienced gourder.
Sunday, October 25
11:00 - 11:20
11:30 - 12:00
Easy Rimming With
Learning this easy stitch for rimming with Danish Coil will allow artists to experiment with many different rimming materials such as pine needles and reed.
12:15 - 1:15
2 - 2:20
2:30 - 2:55
Gourd Luster Inks
There will be handouts on each mini tutorial. For additional notes bring a piece of paper and a pen.
Note: These sessions are not hands-on...it is a demonstration format.
For more information on the CGS Gourd Festival click here:
Babying the seedlings
"As a kid I recall that my mom had some small beaded calbash on display which were done by the San people, or as they were called in those days, the Bushman. Little did I realize then that the calabash would eventually become my passion."
Gourds that are used to brew beer or hold milk are dressed by wrapping plant material or leather around them. The Ovahima tribe colour their calabash with clay to give it a reddish earth look and embellish using leather and cowrie shells.
Este's first birdhouse
Advice To New Gourders
"My first advice would be to take care right from the beginning, wear a mask, mind the dust and let your ideas flow."
Este has always been muddling with paint, clay and more paint. She took informal classes in mixed media but was never really satisfied. Then she found calabash.
She gave a calabash class to a water colour artist and decided to give water colours a try. That, in addition to calabash, is what makes her happy.
This elephant sculpture was
created by the cleaning staff where Este worked in 2007. It is so adorable!
The following two photos are the work of Silvanus. Amazingly he uses a magnifying glass to burn in his images.
Memes on beach
Both Silvanus and Este uses a wildlife theme in much of their gourd art.
Este's favorite animals are the
elephant and the leopard. She states,
"I think living in Africa one should just naturally appreciate wildlife."
"I would like to master as many applications and methods as possible, and there is basically no ceiling on working with calabash."
" I would love to be able to go to every town in Namibia and give workshops
to all interested. There are so many talented people out there, and I feel
that working with calabash is so
much fun and rewarding, that it is
all worth the effort."
Este's first African bowl. The leather is from the ostrich as are the small beads. The embellishment at the front is from the sea.
Este's September garden
There is nothing nicer than attending a workshop on a Saturday morning with a friend or two.
The Northern Dipper mini workshops have been very successful and word of mouth have resulted in full classes. Carolyn is a great teacher with a knowledgable art/craft background
and a wicked sense of humour to go along with it.
Keep your eye on the website for the new schedule of Christmas themed workshops. Here are the links:
Hey...just thought you might be interested in my latest Banjo. Neck is figured maple, mahogany fingerboard and pighead and inlaid turquoise.
It has a goat skin head.
Thank you Barry, that is a fine looking banjo. We would love to hear it in action. If you ever post on YouTube let us know. Keep in touch...
Linda and Carolyn
Barry is an accomplished musician, painter and blogger. To check out his blog click here. Be sure to check out the archives - they are excellent.
I just want to thank you so very much for the great tutorials that you include
in your newsletter. You have inspired me to try different mediums and techniques because your steps are
so easy to follow.
You have a wonderful newsletter and I hope at some point I can visit and
take some classes. Thanks
again and keep up the good work.
Thank you Val - We are happy that you have found the tutorials useful. We always try to follow the philosophy that knowledge is power and the
more we know the better our art!
Wind At My Back
This TV series chronicles the lives of the Bailey family during 1929 - the
start of the Great Depression.
A gourd was spotted (surprisingly enough) in the cabin of a woman who lives in the woods. This is a good series to watch if you like shows that are set in this time period.
To learn more about Wind At My Back click here:
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7
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