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Three Warriors by Morningstar
In This Issue: We are honored to feature Jeanne Kent, more commonly known as Morningstar. This name was given to Jeanne by an Abenaki Elder and it means "One who leads others out of the darkness into the light...a teacher." The Elder named her well as she is a teacher, artist and historian.
The focus of Morningstar's art is the interpretation of the designs and stories of the Wabanaski People; a northeastern woodland aboriginal people who today, find their unique culture slowly disappearing. Through her art Morningstar is bringing their daily life, in historical terms, alive. Please welcome Morningstar. Her work is spiritual and very beautiful.
Some areas in North America have been so hot that colourful sunsets are the result.
It is June and the gourd seedlings will have settled into their new homes and will be taking off. For first-time gardeners these are exciting times and it is guaranteed that as the summer progresses, the excitement will just heighten. This month we will briefly discuss bugs, flowers and pollination as well as other growing information.
We have some good letters from you which we will share as well as some gourdly trivia.
Art For Future Generations
Bridge To Assimilation
There is always a beginning when an artist discovers gourds, and with some, a few years will pass before they actually begin to work on them. This is the case with Morningstar.
During her career as a teacher her principal sent her to New York to attend an art seminar. One workshop offered was on puppetry, the other on gourds. She started a gourd project but when she got home she placed it on a shelf and did not look at it again for a few years.
And then a life altering injury to her hands changed her life drastically and while cleaning out old art supplies that she could not use anymore (due to the lack of strength caused from the injury) she came across the old gourd that she had started and a book.
Reading through the book she realized that although she could not use small tools, power tools would not be a problem. Rejoicing she had now found a perfect medium for her creative spirit; a medium that would also fit in with her other interests in life.
Fiddle Heads Rattle
When growing up Morningstar was not involved with native art or culture yet she found she was always drawn to it. It was, what you might say, in her genes from her father's side. He was native and French, her mother was of German decent. Her parent's separated when Morningstar was young and she was raised not to tell anyone about her father's heritage. At that time in history her mother was afraid that Morningstar would be looked down at.
Once childhood passed, Morningstar moved into what was a much more comfortable fit. Now, twenty-five years later, she has embraced her roots through her art. Her Mother by the way, accepted this and would introduce Morningstar as her "woodsy" daughter. She would comment on how different Morningstar was from both herself and her sister...a comment that would make Morningstar chuckle.
Morningstar's inspiration comes from the pages of history. It became obvious to her that the Abenaki people were disappearing, and along with them, the visual language and stories. For three years she gathered information and purchased old texts or manuscripts from early archaeologists like Frank Speck and Leman. She collected both the designs and the stories.
Now she is working to make them come to life. She hopes that her hands (now arthritic) will continue to allow her to complete at least a dozen or more of these pieces.
Although Morningstar restricts herself to gourds now this was not always the case. She has won prizes for her pastels (National Pastel Association) and has a photo used on a cover of the CT Arts Commission summer bulletin.
She has made regalia in leather and cloth including boutellier bags, blouses, skirts, Abenaki pointed caps, leggings, knife sheaths, turtle pocketbooks and pouches, and mocassins. Beadwork, moosehair embroidery, thread embroidery and bead applique were used as embellishments.
Currently her art is shown at various galleries including the Millbrook Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Concord, New Hampshire from June thru to September. Morningstar is also a featured artist at the Institute for Native American Studies in Washington, CT during the month of June.
Morningstar is presently looking for gallery representation or other galleries that will consider including her in group shows. She also has her eye open for some high end craft/art shows. She considers what she does as fine art and we are certain that she would be very successful.
These days life is full for Morningstar and her husband. She has two children and four grandchildren along with two Hymalian cats and one rescued Bejan/poodle cross dog. She has let the pets and animals naturally decline as her husband will be turning seventy this year and Morningstar will be turning sixty-six. Having animals outdoors is a lot of work especially in the New England winters 1400 feet up!
In the meantime energy abounds when it comes to her gourd art. In addition to the hands-on work energy is being spent on finding homes for her art in museums or permanent collections. It is important that the stories and designs of the Wabanaki people will live on for future generations. This is generosity at its finest; a characteristic that Morningstar is well known for.
For details about the Millbrook Gallery and Sculpture Garden click here:
Thank you Morningstar. We have enjoyed meeting you. Thank you for sharing your art and aspirations with us.
The Art of Growing Gourds
Maranka Gourds in August
In parts of Ontario, Quebec and the U.S. the long weekend was a scorcher. Thirty-eight degrees with the humidity, it was a blissful situation if you were a gourd seedling. The heat helped the seedlings settle and now, one week later, the plants will begin their journey in reaching maturity.
June is a pretty quiet time in the gourd garden; at least for you. It is a time for rapid growth, vines lengthen so quickly you can almost see them grow in front of your eyes. Keep them well watered. Once a week fertilize your plants with a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. This will help them to become green, lush and healthy. If you have trellised your gourds they can be tied up later on once the vines get a little longer.
Late in June cucumber beetles may make an appearance. They are deadly to sick or very young seedlings but to strong healthy plants, small numbers of cucumber beetles can be tolerated. ( The numbers will go up in July and it is then that we will go into detail on how to deal with them. ) In the meantime some home gardeners will plant marigolds in their gourd patch which may help control the beetles but will not deter them completely.
Also in late June, especially if it is hot weather, flowers will make an appearance. If you get both male and female flowers get a paintbrush and pollinate - dab, dab, flower to flower. We'll go more into this next month as by then you will have scores of flowers.
Enjoy your month! In July the gourd vines will require more attention thus giving you, the gardener, more work and even more pure satisfaction.
Memories Inks - A Great Colour Selection!
Hi Carolyn and Linda,
I have just finished working on one of the gourds that I purchased from your farm and showroom in April.
I chose to experiment on the smallest one, removing the top, covering both the top and bottom with the purple ink. This is to be a little treasure box for a birthday gift for a grand-daughter.
I traced on a rabbit - the "Mad Hatter" - and a couple of other images (all from Alice in Wonderland.) The coats, socks, etc were coloured in with the green and red inks. We drilled small holes and strung purple and green beads just below the rim and, all in all, I was pretty pleased with the results.
However, I sprayed the gourd with a clear acrylic sealer and the inks all ran. My husband came to my rescue and actually used a tool to carve the gourd and get rid of the run lines. Now each picture is outlined with the actual colour of the cleaned gourd - a light beige - and it looks just fine! Talk about experimenting! We repainted the coats, socks, etc with the green and red inks.
Hopefully you will be able to give me some advice. My question is: What do I use to cover the gourd to give it a little bit of shine and not cause running?
Thanks so much - any info would be wonderful. Hope to see you at Buckhorn on the long week-end.
Gail and Bill Jones - Ontario
(Answer is in the right hand column)
If you have any stories, comments or photos that you would like to share with this newsletter please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming Next Month:
A couple of weeks ago we were sitting with a group of people and the subject of gourds naturally came up. One question people had was where do gourds originate from and how were they used in a historical sense? We thought about it and decided it would be fun to do an article on it. So if you have ever wondered about this, stay tuned for the July issue of Gourd Fever.
We will have a tutorial by Carolyn Cooper. Carolyn's tutorials are always fun and are written in such a way that the end result will always be successful.
The easy times for gourd growers will be over. July is all about nightly trips to the gourd garden to pollinate. Sex in the garden - who doesn't like that - especially when each pollinated blossom will end up being a gourd!
Enjoy the beautiful month of June. We just love this first month of summer ...
"I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June." L.M. Montgomery
Until next month - Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
Volume 6, Number 64
In this issue:
Morningstar: Historian, Artist and Public Educator
The Bulletin Board - It's All About News!
The Art of Growing Gourds: Take It Easy While You Can
Dear Carolyn, Reader's Corner and Gourd Sightings
The Bulletin Board
Northern Dipper Workshops
Northern Dipper has the reputation of providing excellent classes on a large variety of topics. July's workshop on drum-making is one of the most popular so sign up soon as it fills very quickly.
For more information click here.
Moose by Dyna Todd
The Washington State Gourd Society's Gourd Festival
When: July 15 - 16, 2010
Where: Moses Lake, WA
The WA Gourd Society has a great festival planned with 55 classes scheduled Thursday through Sunday. There will be lots of gourd growers and commercial vendor's selling everything on a gourd artist's list. Wonderful entertainment, great food and a beer and wine garden will complete the weekend.
For more details click here:
For information about Moses Lake, WA click here:
"When I realized that gourds were here since 10,000 B.C. and was used by most native cultures it was a perfect fit with my ongoing work with North American Native crafts and history."
"Gourds are not indigenous to North America... they somehow just showed up. Used as floats for fishing boats they may have broken off from ships from hot climates or maybe they just arrived on the
ocean currents. Once found and cultivated here, they served uses such as bowls, dippers, storage boxes, rattles, fishing
floats and many other items."
Gluscape Fights the Water Serpent - Side 1
Gluscape Fights the Water Serpent - Side 2
Words of Advice For New Artists
"Learn as much as you can about as many things as you can. And never give up."
"One of the problems I had most of my life was not having a focus. I experimented all over the place and liked doing flowers and portraits but never really felt fulfilled by it."
"I tried many different media with pen and ink and pastels being my favorites. I always admired sculpture but found I didn't think in 3-D."
"With the gourds, I am sort of 3-D. It is culturally grounded and it is preserving history. I simply love doing what I am doing."
"But I didn't arrive at this in my 20's. I have arrived here in my 60's!"
"I have been making art since I could hold a pencil. I remember being punished for drawing with my ink pen instead of practicing my penmenship. I still have terrible penmanship!"
"I have taken private lessons and have two degrees from the University of Hartford. One is a Bachelor of Fine Arts and the other a Masters in Arts Education."
"I learn a lot from books, but now with the age of the computer, when I have questions about a technique, I go to the computer and can usually find a written description and even sometimes a video. I love the computer!"
Life on a Gourd Farm
Planting strong healthy seedlings
June was always a great month on the farm. The weather, depending on the year, would be warm but not not unbearable. Light rains at night would help the seedlings settle in.
Gourd vines grow very fast.
A week or two after planting we would make our rounds doing replants. There are always plants that do not make it and if they were sickly and not flourishing we would pull them and pop in a new gourd seedling.
Any that we had left over we sold. There was always a great demand for seedlings and we always did a brisk business in the spring! mm
Love this photo!
The Mad Hatter
Oh those dreaded "ink runs!" This has to be one of the most heart breaking things to see when working on a piece of art. You are not the first artist to have his happen and more than likely not the last.
There are a couple of separate factors that need to be taken into account. What types of inks did you use? Were they the Memories Inks or alcohol dyes?
If it was the Memories Inks, make sure you apply very light coats using the applicator cubes. Gently blend and remove excess with a facial tissue. These are highly concentrated inks and must be used sparingly. A small amount goes a longs way.
For both the inks and the dyes I recommend using KRYLON spray which can be found at Canadian Tire, Home Depot and other hardware shops.
As I tell my students the absolute key factor when using the spray, and I can't emphasize this enough, is to do light coats. One or two heavy coats will actually melt the colours together.
I hope this helps and please send us a picture of the treasure box, we would love to see it.
To learn more about Memories Inks and alcohol dyes click here:
These gourds were spotted at Inspirations on Queen Street, a gift and home decor shop in Port Perry, Ontario. Port Perry is a tourist town, very pretty with that small town Ontario charm.
For more information about Port Perry and this shop click here:
In memory of
1997 - 2010
Many of you will remember Royal
from when the CGS Gourd Festival was held at Peter and Pam's farm in Bealton Ont. Royal was our official greeter and when she wasn't busy welcoming people she could often be found with her pal Chloe or by the food table! She was a good little dog and we miss her.
PO Box 1145
5376 County Road 56
RR 2, Cookstown, Ontario
L0L 1L0, Canada