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 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.
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
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:
Trellissing can really add to a garden Gary did an excellent job building this strong and attractive structure.
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.
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.