artists, growtips, info & more

Note: If using Outlook click the above bar where it says “Click to download photos” The photos are the best part!

             Heron by Brenda Chalifoux-Luscombe 

In This Issue: 
We are thrilled to introduce Brenda Chalifoux-Luscombe, a Vancouver Island artist who brings stories, legends and myths to life through her art. A pyrographic artist for many years, Brenda has recently included gourds as a medium for her creativity. Brenda's work is unique and beautiful. Please welcome Brenda in this May issue of Gourd Fever.  

For the northern gardeners it will still be another three to four weeks until you start planting your gourd seedlings in your gardens. Now it is time to plan the where and how. In The Art of Growing Gourds are a few tips to ensure that your gourd crop will thrive once in the ground.

We have had a full mailbag with a large variety of topics and also have a good gourd sighting this month. So take a break, put your feet up and enjoy.

.       Brenda Chalifoux-Luscombe    
          Lost In The Magical World of Gourd Art

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.
Soil Preparation
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.

         Dear Carolyn
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.
Hi Josephine,
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
Dear 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
Hi Sam,
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






NEXT ISSUE:  February 

PS If you have any stories or ideas that you would like to contribute to this newsletter please send to


Volume 6, Number 63 


In this issue:
Brenda Chalifoux-Luscombe "Story-Telling Through Art" 

The Bulletin Board: Northern Dipper News 

The Art of Growing Gourds: The Two P'S

Q & A, Gourd Sightings & Trivia

 The Bulletin Board

  The Buckhorn Craft Show

Dates: May 22 - 24, 2010
Where: Buckhorn Community Centre
This is a great show that has a little bit of everything. Handmade furniture, garden accessories & pottery, clothing, jewellery and gourds! Stop by and say hello at the Northern Dipper booth. We would love to 
meet you.
 For more info click here:
(Northern Dipper will be closed from May 21 - 24th.) 

  Brenda Chalifoux- Luscombe
 "I have exhibited in galleries and art festivals, have done consignment work, participated in studio tours and have been involved in artists'
co-ops. I enjoy the studio tours the most. When people enter your home, they tend to feel more relaxed and will sit down and stay awhile to get to know the real you."

Dorothy Meets The Scarecrow

"A few years ago, I was contacted by a movie company filming in Vancouver, BC. They were working on a movie for TV. The story revolved around a detective who was also a pyrographic artist in his spare time. What a concept!"

"The movie company rented a few art pieces for the film. They also commissioned me to create an unfinished woodburning that the actor could work on during the shooting of the film."

"I was invited to the set in Vancouver to view the making of a particular scene in which the actor was woodburning on my unfinished art. I met some of the actors and the writer of the movie and got a small peek of the inner workings of the movie business."

A few years ago Brenda walked away with Best of Show, People's Choice Award and a First Place Ribbon at the CGS Gourd Festival.

Keeper of the Earth & Four Seaons  2009 Gourd Festival winners!

" I enjoy collaborating on art projects with other artists who work in different mediums. Recently I have worked with a woodturner and a native artist to create unique bowls and platters with a native design burned into the wood."

Close-up of Keeper of the Earth

"My husband and I worked on a headboard for our log bed. The headboard is five feet long and is made from maple. Mother Earth, wildlife and Vancouver Island scenery are burned into the wood to make a one of a kind headboard."

The detail in Seasons is amazing.

Dorothy's little dog Toto is pretty cute.

  Life On A Gourd Farm
One of the first signs of spring is the return of the kildeer. They set up their nests on the ground - the driveway, the field...we would just plant around them. They always lay four eggs and once hatched, the babies are carbon copies of their parents. It is a beautiful sight seeing them dash around.
Following is a photo of a kildeer protecting her eggs. She pretends she has a broken wing and moves away from the nest. They look like easy prey to a predator. They fly up at you too and make lots of "intimidating" sounds!
 Planting a commercial field is hard work. We use to have large planting parties inviting all of our friends to pitch in. How we appreciated their help! A sunny day, a large farm lunch and the task would go quickly and smoothly.
The first year we planted was a grim experience. The field was a clay sand mix and large spots were constantly wet. I still vividly remember almost crying trying to plant hundreds of seedlings in clay. 
The next year we tiled part of the field for drainage and worked that soil spending hours tilling it on the tractor. Each year it got easier and after 3 years planting was a dream. The lesson here: no matter how small or large your gourd patch, the trick is to work that soil with compost
and tilling or turning over.
 There is nothing more satisfying than looking at a freshly planted field.
 Large gourds should always be planted on the ground.
Next Month: Flowers, Pollination and Bug Control

 Dear Carolyn
Good morning Carolyn,
I am working with children and have just started to work with gourds. I thought it might be fun to do some gourd projects in our art and craft segment. Would you have ideas on a kid's project that would be fun to do?
Evelyn B - Ft Lauderdale, Florida
Hi Evelyn,
Kids and gourds go together just like peanut butter and jam! There are many projects that you could work on that kids would really enjoy. The main thing is to keep the projects simple and to supply materials for decorating that are age appropiate and easy to handle.
. Projects that you may want to consider are birdhouses, bowls, or masks. You would have to do the cutting but the kids could help wash and prep the gourds. Crayons, poster paint, feathers, sequins, glitter, buttons and other neat things, along with their imagination, will result in real objects of art.
To start off with a very simple project you may want to consider window ornaments using mini gourds. They are small, easy to handle and are  very economical.
If you are into gardening projects you may want to consider growing some minis. They are easy with a shorter drying time compared to other gourds and it would be interesting for the kids to make projects with the art materials out of their own garden.
Just a thought! Have fun...

  Gourd Sightings 
On April 2nd I happened to walk into a friend's house and on the telly was the show Dirty Jobs. Much to my delight, it was about a visit to a gourd farm.
To learn more about the host Mike Rowe and his show click here:
Following is a small clip from the gourd farm show.

  For those of you that missed the link into the eagle's nest last month here it is again. In the Sidney nest a raven stole one egg but the remaining egg hatched April 11. Check it out...

 Published by:
Pam Grossi
Victoria, BC

Northern Dipper
PO Box 1145
5376 County Road 56 RR 2, Cookstown, Ontario, L0L 1L0 705/435-3307
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