Brenda is a story-teller through her art. When she hears a children's story or nursery rhyme, or when she watches an old movie or hears legends and myths, she wants to re-create the story through imagery. Gourds are the perfect medium for this.
The introduction to the world of gourds was when Brenda saw some of Denise Meyer's work in a magazine. Curiousity aroused, Brenda received the book "Gourd Craft" and a couple of gourds from a friend. Now Brenda had a chance to use her pyrographic skills on something other than wood!
A self-taught artist, Brenda has worked in graphite, pen & ink, acrylic, hand-engraved glass, and for the past 28 years, has been a pyrographic artist. Books, the internet and sharing ideas with fellow artists helps her expand her repertoire of skill and exploration.
Brenda's award winning gourd art
Recently a girlfriend invited Brenda to an "Altered Book" class. This is a group of twelve women (potters, quilters, graphic designer, textile artists) and they all bring different ideas to the table. The classes are a wealth of information and fun too. They will be having a gallery showing in October and Brenda knows that all the books will be different.
Last year at the Canadian Gourd Festival Brenda was introduced to Power Tex which is a fabric hardener. She loves the effect, especially when paired with gourds. She states, "Now when I tell a story with my art it is in 3D!"
Santa In Sleigh
Brenda is in the process of developing a website which will include her pyrographic art on both wood and gourds, her graphite drawings and art using the Power Tex. Currently her work can be seen at South Hollow in Courtenay, B.C. and on September 1 - 14 she will have a gallery showing at the Pearl Ellis Gallery in Comox, B.C.
In November Brenda will be once again decorating a Christmas tree with her gourd and wood ornaments and will auction it off to the highest bidder. All proceeds go to a local charity.
Until then Brenda will continue to be inspired during her walks close to home. It is here where the mountains reach the sky, the ocean touches the shore and the bald eagles glide over the tall evergreens. A perfect environment for the creative mind.
Thank you Brenda. We have loved your work for six years now and it was a pleasure to meet the woman behind the art. Once your website is up let us know and we will put in a link. All the best... Carolyn and Linda
The Art of Growing Gourds
Planning and Prepping the Garden
These seedlings are ready to plant out
It is the beginning of May and your gourd seedlings should have their first leaves. In Canada and in the northern US the seedlings will not be planted out until at least May 24. Before this a surprise night-time frost would kill them. Now it is time to plan and prepare the space where you will be planting.
1.) Gourds require full sun so plan your garden with a southern exposure.
2.) Gourds require rich, compost filled soil.
3.) Gourds require plenty of water but do not like to get their leaves wet. A drip irrigation hose placed among the gourd plants will solve that problem and make watering a cinch too.
To prep your soil turn it over and break up any clumps. Add lots of compost and wood ash if available. Turn in. Smooth out using the back of a rake.
To retain moisture and heat, and to help control weeds, cut open a large black or dark green garbage bag. Spread out and use soil or rocks to hold the edges down.
On a commercial farm a tractor is used to lay large rolls of plastic. In a home garden it is done by hand using black or dark green garbage bags.
Fertilizing and Hardening Off
The seedlings will be growing quickly now. Fertilize them every second watering with a mild diluted fertilizer high in nitrogen. Once the sun is warm, place your seedlings outside in a sheltered spot in full sun away from strong winds. Bring them back in at night.
May 24th - June 1 is the time to plant your seedlings in the garden. Rip a hole in the plastic and dig a small hole. If you planted two seeds per peat pot gently rip the two plants apart and pop one into the hole.
Push the soil firmly around the base of your plant, sprinkle a circle of fertilizer around the plant being careful not to let the fertilizer touch the stem. Water well.
Your plants may wilt for a couple of days after planting but do not worry. They go into a shock period but will revive, usually within twenty-four hours.
Trellising VS Ground
Whether you trellis or plant on the ground soil prep is still the same. Trellissing is perfect for city gardens as gourds look gorgeous running along a fence. Trellissing is an ideal situation for minis and small gourds such as dippers or cannonballs. All large gourds such as bushels should be planted on the ground.
I am afraid I missed the boat and didn't start my gourd seeds early. I am thinking that I will just plant them in the garden and hope for the best. Do you think I will get any gourds?
Crossing my fingers,
Josephine Meyers - St Catharines, Ont.
As it is only the beginning of May I would still go ahead and start your seeds indoors. One quick and easy way to speed up the germination is to place your seeds between two moist paper towels and place the paper towels in a plastic zip lock bag.
Put the bag somewhere dark like in a box or between two bowls. Place them in a warm place. Some people put them on top of the fridge as it is usually warm there; especially if you have an older model of fridge.
It is important to keep the paper towels moist so don't forget about them. Your seeds should germinate within two weeks. Once germinated proceed to plant in 4" peat pots.
Your gourd seedlings will be small but they should catch up quite nicely, particularily if you have a long and hot summer. Good luck, Carolyn
I bought a woodburner and am having a great time but the tips are getting pretty gucky. Should I be cleaning them and if so, how do I do it?
Sam Plymouth - Iowa
For crisp lines and no overburn you should be cleaning your tips from the accumalated carbon. You should be able to go back to where you got your pen from to see if they have cleaning instruments or you can use one of the following techniques.
Some people love using a stainless-steel scouring pad. Just fold the pad in half and place your tip into the middle of the pad. Pull the tip gently away from the pad and repeat until the tip is clean.
I have also seen people using a fine emery cloth (found at craft shops) or a super fine (400 grit) waterproof sandpaper. Draw the tip across the sandpaper at an angle in short straight strokes.
For your interest here is a link into a "Quilt" gourd found on YouTube. It demonstrates quite nicely all the different effects woodburning pens can do.
Thanks for writing...Carolyn
This is a great way to recycle old phones.
Next Issue: Each artist Northern Dipper has featured has their own style which makes their art unique. Next month's featured artist is no exception. Morningstar, a name given to Jeanne Kent by an Abenaki Elder many years ago, has contributed to the world of gourd art through teaching, exhibits and gallery showings. Her art deplicts Native American symbols and designs of the Northeast Woodland people and each piece relays the history of this proud culture. Morningstar is a very interesting artist and we are very pleased to be able to introduce her in our next issue of Gourd Fever.
We will have a couple of surprises as well so stay tuned. See you next month... Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond