artists, growtips, info & more

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              Three Fawns by Patty Sorenson

In This Issue:  We are pleased to present Patty Sorenson, an artist who lives in Texas, and who has been using gourds in her art since 2005. Patty's gourd art are show stoppers, and with the incorporation of various techniques and embellishments, each piece is one of a kind. Her work is exciting, beautiful and interesting and we are thrilled to feature Patty and her art.

Patty's Antlers with Silouette Sidecropped
The warmer temperatures of April bring thoughts of the garden and the starting of your gourd seeds. Growing gourds is an "interactive" crop as there are always things to do every step of the way. It is a rewarding and pleasurable past-time.

In the first of the monthly series "The Art of Growing Gourds", seed germination and planting start the beginning of our journey. This year, as an ex-commercial grower, I will share some stories about some of the successes and failures we experienced. Feel free to send in your stories as well. We do enjoy them. 

Gary Kosinsky's 2009 Gourd Crop 

We will also delve into our mail bag which is always full of goodies plus a gourd sighting and a bit of trivia too. So sit back, tea at your elbow, and enjoy this month's issue of Gourd Fever.

                  Patty Sorenson 
                         Patty in her studio  
        (Photo by Brad Meyer for the Conroe Courier 2007)
In 2005, as a whim, and with the purpose of filling in the herb garden, Patty bought a gourd plant from Walmart. One successful crop later and then came the big question "What to do with them?" Patty hit the internet, and like all of us, was amazed at all the creative, artistic things done with gourds.
Furthermore, and much to Patty's surprise, she discovered that there were gourd societies throughout the U.S. The timing was perfect as that fall the Texas Gourd Society was hosting a festival close to home. She could not resist and after her first class was hooked.
Since that time Patty has attended festivals at Wuetz's farm in Arizona, and during visits to California, has attended the Welburns shows. Festivals and shows, Patty states, are inspirational in not only viewing everyones work but meeting other like minded people. Gourd people are friendly and very generous in sharing their experiences.   
                               Indian Chief
Patty has always been involved in some form of art and crafts. Before gourds her passion was rubber stamping and some of her cards were published in rubber stamping magazines. Now, in addition to gourds, Patty is very involved in basket weaving. She just attended her first basket weaving retreat and came away with a very high respect for basket weavers.
Nature and wildlife are what inspire Patty. To learn new techniques Patty has bought many books on carving, woodburning, coiling, weaving and drawing animals. She uses the internet to search for pictures and takes advantage of the many online tutorials that are available.
The embellishments Patty uses in her art ranges from the simple to the more complex. The gourd design sometimes determines what embellishments will be used.
A favorite technique is pine needle coiling with antler and different types of embellishments. Patty purchases walnut slices, semi precious stones and beads. She uses her own philodendron sheaths and any other elements she finds while out on the golf course.
                         Hopi Rain Spirits
One of the things that Patty enjoys the most in working with gourds is the ability to be creative. In the beginning Patty did commission pieces but she found it limiting. She sells her work in various galleries, at juried shows and craft shows. Word of mouth have also resulted in many sales. 
Patty holds classes and frequently does demonstrations in her home, at patch meetings and at gourd festivals. This year she will be teaching gourd classes at a local basket weaving store as well.
                 Back of Scarlet Threesome 
To conclude Patty says, "My work consists of carving/cutouts, wood burning, coiling and weaving, painting, staining, ink dye techniques, inlace, and there is always room for improvement. Now that I have started basket weaving I find I am incorporating it into my gourd art. My future plans are to improve and extend my abilities and to improve my teaching skills."
Patty and her husband have been married for fifty years and have a son and daughter. They have three granddaughters, two great grandsons, and one spoiled dog. For many years Patty played tennis but has now switched to golf. She also plays in two bridge groups and then there are the gourds. Patty is a dynamic woman - she is always busy doing something!
                Green and Bronze Wartie Gourd
To learn more about Patty Sorenson and her art click here:
Thank you Patty! You are such a pleasure and your art is beautiful and inspiring. We do look forward to seeing future  works from you. Carolyn and Linda

        The Art of Growing Gourds
    by Pam Grossi
As an ex-commercial grower of gourds I understand the joy, the sorrow and the work involved in growing gourds. The joy: the process, the harvest and the dreaming of the art that will result from the work. The sorrow: a rainy cool summer, chipmunks in the barn chowing down on dried gourds. But it was all worth it. The gourd life is the good life; both in the art of growing and in the craft. 
In this series of articles we will start at the beginning with the seed. In the north it is highly recommended that seeds be started indoors.
Starting The Seeds - Indoor Planting 
Gourd seeds require patience to get started. Thick and woody, germination can be quickened by soaking the seed for 24 hours before planting. Do not soak any longer than this as some seeds may rot. The shoulders of the seed can be clipped as well as demonstrated in the picture on the right.
For planting go to your local nursery or hardware store and pick up some four inch peat pots. The size of the pot is important as the roots will need lots of room to grow. The beauty of peat is that you will be able to plant them directly into the ground and the roots will grow right through the pots.
Fill the pots with Pro-Mix or a light potting soil mix and place in a flat or on a tray. Water well. Make two holes with your fingers 1" deep and pop in two seeds, pointed end up. You may want to add a bit more soil, press down and water lightly. Do not use soil from your garden as it may be full of weeds, insect eggs or moulds.
To retain moisture and increase heat put your pots in a plastic bag or cover with Saran Wrap. Once the seeds begin to sprout remove the covering.
The seedlings can be placed in a heated greenhouse or can be grown under grow lights. A window with a southern exposure will work as well, especially if you purchase one of those heating mats to put under your flat or tray. 
For those in the north a general rule of thumb is that you will not be planting outside until the May 24th weekend. The seedlings will be fine in their peat pots until then.
Next month we will talk about planting outdoors...location, ground prep and other requirements. For garden planning just remember that gourds require a southern exposure with lots of sun and heat.
To learn more about indoor grow lights click here:
To learn more about heating mats click here:
For high quality gourd seeds click here:

Reader's Corner
Trellissing can really add to a garden Gary did an excellent job  building this strong and attractive structure.
Hi there,
Here are some photos of the gourds we grew last year from the seeds we bought from you at Canada Blooms. We live in Niagara Falls and talked to your staff this year, once again at Canada Blooms.
Gary Kosinsky
Hi Gary,
Thank you for sending in these photos. Your garden is beautiful and inviting. What a draw for the bees with all the colour and texture. Let us know how this years crop works out. Last years was a wonderful success!
All the best, Carolyn and Linda 
This  gourd looks gorgeous hanging down through the trellissing. On the left are male flowers.  
This garden is inviting with its variety in colour and texture. What a draw for bees and other insects that pollinate.

How would you like to live here? Check out the little  cable car on the right.

We cannot wait until next month! Our featured artist is Vancouver Island Brenda Chalifoux-Luscombe. We first saw Brenda's work four years ago as an entry at a gourd festival and it was not surprising that she walked off with a handful of ribbons. Her work is amazing and we are certain that you will find it as memorable as we did.
April showers bring May flowers and those little gourd seedlings will, by next month, be strong and growing fast. Growers, get ready to plant by May 24th. To help, "The Art of Growing Gourds" will be about garden prep, getting the seedlings ready to be planted out and more.
Last year, if you will remember, we had a link into the Hancock Wildlife Foundation's web cams which are set up beside eagle's nests. In the Sidney New Nest site one egg was laid on March 4th and a second on the 7th. They are due to hatch on April 8th and 11th. Check this site out - it is really fascinating and educational for the entire family. The link is:

                                         Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond

If you have any stories, ideas or comments that you would like to share with this newsletter please send to


    Volume 6, Number 62 

In this issue:
Patty Sorenson -  It Started On A Whim! 

The Bulletin Board - News from Northern Dipper

The Art of Growing Gourds - Starting The Seeds 
Dear Carolyn, Reader's Corner and Gourd Sightings
 The Bulletin Board


Upcoming Spring Shows!
 Originals, Ottawa 
 Spring Craft Show
Dates: April 15 - 18, 2010
Where: Civic Centre, Landsdowne Park, Ottawa
Northern Dipper will be exhibiting finished art and unfinished gourds.

** For those living in the area take advantage of 'no shipping.'
Put in an order and Carolyn will bring it to the show. This is especially useful with the extra large gourds as they are very expensive to ship.
Check out the website for amazing African wine kettles and HUGE Bushels, perfect for drums and fruit bowls. Order now!
For more about the Originals show (including directions) click here:

To view large kettles and bushels and other dried gourds click here:


Dates: May 22 - May 24, 2010
Where: Buckhorn Community Centre
This show has lots to see and do!
For more info click here:

Patty Sorenson
"It is the creativity that will keep you going. When I got involved with gourds I didn't have any formal training in the art field. I certainly didn't realize I had any abilities to do gourd art. I feel very blessed to be able to do the things I do."

Blue Heron and Egret 
(Three Views)

Advice To New  Gourd Artists
"Get involved in the gourd societies. You get a lot of inspiration in seeing other people's work.  And just let your creative juices flow."

"I belong to the TX Gourd Society & attend the local monthly patch meetings. Plus I look forward to our annual "Lone Star Gourd Festival" in Fredericksburg, TX."

Butterfly Tenereffe

Pine Needle Coiling with Turquoise Tears

Tortella Server

 "There are times when going through a store I will think - that would look good on a gourd. If you look at a gourd long enough, sometimes it tells you what it wants to be."

Scarlet Threesome

Lopsided Coiling

Mountain Goat

Close-up of Three Fawns

 The Art Of Growing Gourds

To hasten germination the shoulders of the seed can be clipped using nail scissors. Do not to cut into the seed.
On The Gourd Farm
While out driving Peter and I noticed a greenhouse frame lodged 
between someone's fence and garage. We stopped and discovered
it was for sale. We bought it.
Once the frame was set up it had to be covered with a continuous double layer of heavy plastic. On a bright, sunny morning Peter, Tee and I set out to get it done. The roll of plastic was huge and awkward.  Getting it over the greenhouse was strenuous but we did it. 
Struggling with the hairpin type clips we secured  the plastic to the one end and then set out to bring the remaining plastic back over to the other end. 
Suddenly a rogue wind came up out of nowhere and I found myself encased in meters of plastic! One thing I learned is don't struggle when wrapped in plastic - it just makes it more difficult to escape.
  Finally we got it spread across and secured, filled the middle with air, set up the heater and moved in tables. It was a pretty sight and we started our seeds the following morning.
That little $75.00 greenhouse proved to be invaluable. It was the birthplace of thousands of gourd seedlings over the course of eight years plus it was a warm place to hang out with the cats and dogs when it rained. 
 These are the first leaves of a gourd seedling. They are not really leaves but are cotyledons - the first real leaves come afterwards.

 Workshop Schedules
Each year Northern Dipper offers a wide range of workshops ranging from a beginners class right through to more specialized classes on rims and woodburning, etc.
 The people who attend are from all walks of life. It is a great place to meet with other creative individuals. The classes
are guaranteed to be both
educational and fun. 
Mother's Day is coming up on May 9th - take advantage of the beginner's class being held on May 1st.  
Beginning To End-May 1
This is a beginner's class and will cover everything from cleaning and prep to the use of various finishes.
For details click here:

  Dear Carolyn
I have a problem. I have been using tracing paper to transfer small images onto a gourd but when I try to transfer a large image (especially a design that wraps around the gourd) the paper crinkles and my lines are not clean and crisp.
Is there a better way? Thank you,
J Bowes, South Dakota
Hi J... I use to find the same thing when I started to work with gourds.
 A friend helped me out by telling me about a plastic wrap trick she picked up somewhere.  It's easy and it works...
1.) Lay a piece of plastic wrap over your design or picture and using a fine tip permanent pen draw out the outline.
2.) Place the wrap around your gourd and then slide a piece of graphite paper under the wrap. Tape if you wish.
3.) Using a pencil trace out your design. Remove the paper and plastic and you are now ready to woodburn or paint.
Let me know how it works out. Carolyn

   Gourd Sightings
This month I thought I would do a little surfing and see what I could come up with for a gourd sighting. YouTube is filled with projects and, as seeing that spring and summer are right around the corner, here is a project on how to make gourd lanterns.
To learn more click here:
   Published by Pam Grossi 
    Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7


Northern Dipper
PO Box 1145
5376 County Road 56
RR 2, 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