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  A 12th century gourd vase found in Midyat-Mardin south of    Turkey. It is now on display in the Mardin Museum.  
In This Issue: The hard-shell gourd has its place in history and we are going to explore just what that place in history is. For example what were their uses in a historical perspective and how they  happen to show up on the shores of North America and Europe. It is a fascinating journey as you will soon discover. 

The Mini-Chinese Gourd

We have a tutorial on crafting a medieval goblet. The gourd we are using is new to us; a mini-chinese, smaller than a bottle with a diameter of 4" - 5". They are strong with beautiful colouring; versatility is their trademark...they are suitable for many different types of projects.

In July the gourd gardens will be a mass of white flowers and the growers will be experiencing the busiest time of the season. In 'The Art of Growing Gourds' two important topics, pollination and pests, will be discussed.

For the moment however lets take a step back into time and follow the historical path of the hard-shell gourd.

The History of the Hard-Shell Gourd 

        A collection of gourds from around the world. From the  collection of Ed and Darienne McAuley

It is believed that the hard-shell gourd originated in Africa and that they spread around the world primarily through human migration. Whether it was by travel and trade, or by gourd floats coming loose from  fishing boats, it is thought that the ocean currents brought shell and seed to the shores of the Americas.

Domesticated gourds have been found in Africa and in Asia from thousands of years ago and decorated gourds, dating back to 2500 BC, have been found in Peru.

In 1620 Richard Jobson documented his travels in Gambia and wrote of the gourd banjos he saw and heard. In South America gourds are commonly seen holding mate, that delicious traditional infused drink that is good for the body and the soul.

                              Haitian Bill

In Haiti, in 1807, gourds were the national currency. This ingenious money system was thought up by Henri Christophe (King Henry 1). There was no paper currency yet but there were plenty of gourds. He ordered that all of the gourds were to be collected and brought to the treasury. The gourds were then distributed as currency.

During the era of slavery in the U.S. many slaves sought refuge up North. Unbeknown to their owners the slaves had it all figured out. They used the North Star as a directional beacon.

Young children were taught where the North Star or Polaris was and how to find it by following the stars of the Big Dipper. A coded song, "Follow The Drinking Gourd", gave an escape route from Alabama and Mississippi. It is believed that by 1850, more than 100,000 slaves had escaped using the 'Underground Railroad.'

The history of gourds is amazing and the next time I sit, coiling a gourd rim, I won't help but have have a greater appreciation for the medium I am working with.

To hear the song "Follow The Drinking Gourd" by Richie Haven click here:

   Tutorial: Transforming a Mini-Chin          Gourd Into A Medievel Goblet
                by Carolyn Cooper

This month I took a look at our new gourd called the mini chinese and decided that it was just begging to be made into a bejewelled silver goblet from the medievel times! With the help of Generation Green Texture and a little Gourd Luster I now have my own glitzy goblet. Don't be afraid to experiment and try your own colours.

Step 1: Clean the gourd, cut into three pieces as illustrated in the photo. Clean out the inside. Now you are going to use the bottom piece of the gourd for the top and the top for the bottom. This will give the actual goblet - the drinking part - a larger area.  Adhere the bottom to the top. I used Apoxie Sculpt to join the pieces as it joins permanently, and unlike glue, it can fill any gaps at the same time. Smooth and blend any ridges of the Apoxie Scupt.
Step 2: Using your choice of thickness of tape, tape off sections on the bowl part of the goblet. I prefer using thinner pieces of tape than what I used for this tutorial.

Prepare the Generation Green Texture. Scoop out about 1 tbsp of Texture. Add about 1/8 tsp of varnish and mix well. Mixing these two together creates a very strong bond. Apply over the full top of the goblet. Let it dry.

Step 3: As the Texture is drying paint the base black. Base coating the bottom black will make the silver metallic colour pop. Once the Texture is dry gently remove the tape. You should now have a tiled effect. Gently sand the Texture to get rid of any sharp points.

Step 4: The Texture is now ready for colour. In a small mixing bowl pour about 1/2 oz of varnish. Now add about 1/8th tsp of your choice of base colour. I used Gourd Luster Silver. You may have to adjust the amount of varnish and luster. You are trying to get a paint-like consistency. Brush all over the gourd. Let it dry and apply a second coat if required.

Step 5: On a palette, scoop out a "very small" dab of Gourd Pigments of your choice. I say small as these are highly concentrated colours. A small amount goes a long way. Add 1 - 2 drops of varnish to each colour and blend. You want these to be more solid than wet.

To apply the jewelled colours you will need to use a dry paint brush. To change colours just rub out the previous colour with a dry paper towel. Using a dry paint brush, add just a hint of colour and scrub on. Do not try and colour full areas at once with one colour. The idea is dry scrumble a variety of colours. Let dry and varnish.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions and if any of you have a tutorial you would like to share we are always happy to hear from you!

To learn more about the Generation Green line of products click here:

To view the new Mini-Chinese gourds click here: 

The Art of Growing Gourds
As with all plant life pollination is an essential step in reproduction. For day-blooming flowers bees help in this task, but as hard-shell gourds flower at night, they may require a hand from us. 
Near the end of June the flowers begin but on closer inspection most of the flowers will be male. July is when the females bring out their dance card and is when your paint brush will come in handy.
     Female flower on the left, male on the right
Take a few moments and note the differences between the males and females. The female flowers have a raised deep golden center. The male has a pale yellow center and is much more recessed compared to the female.
The flowers last one night. The males grow on the main vine and the females grow on the lateral or side vines. You may have to look for the females as they like to hide under the large leaves. To pollinate dab the male flower and then the female. Remember it only takes one grain of pollen to do the trick.
Cucumber Beetles
These beetles are 1/4" long and have either black stripped wings against a yellow body or spotted wings against a greenish-yellow body. Their main occupation is eating and reproduction and if they get out of hand, will eat the vines. They dig into green gourds at the end of the season too.
These beetles will spread diseases such as bacterial wilt, which will decimate a gourd crop. July is the height for the cucumber beetles, in August they start slowing down. They love to congregate inside the flowers so check the flowers out in the morning.
For a natural approach in control plant radishes or catnip around your plants. Let them go to seed.
If you are going to use a pesticide go to your local nursery. There are some natural pesticides out there now that are worth looking at.  

Reader's Corner
Hi Carolyn and Linda,
If you will remember I sent in a letter last month about a problem I had with ink running. I've attached  a couple of pictures of the finished project - a treasure box to be precise for my grand-daughter. Yes she loves it!
Once my husband was able to use his dremel to remove the problem we were quite relieved. On your suggestion we put on very light coats of lacquer and it worked just great.
Right now I am doing a birdhouse, again experimenting and enjoying working with the red and black ink.
Take care you two and thanks again for your help. Gail Jones
Thank you Gail, this box is a wonderful gift. We are glad it all worked out in the end. See you soon. Carolyn

 We would like to take this opportunity to thank gourd artist Barbur Benderlioglu for sending in the photo of the 12th century gourd vase seen at the beginning of this newsletter.

Barbur resides in Turkey and his gourd sculpture is recognized around the world. To learn more about this great artist click here:  Once in click onto Issues 14 and 30.
LOOKING AHEAD: August 2010 
In the August issue of Gourd Fever we are thrilled to have with us Jenn Avery. Jenn 's gourd art is guaranteed to leave you thirsting for more. If you are a fan of pyrography, intricate celtic designs, wildlife or beautifully coiled rims you will not want to miss the interview next month with artist Jenn Avery. 

Another tutorial by Carolyn Cooper is on the agenda. We have received positive feedback about the tutorials as everyone likes to learn new techniques and Carolyn is good at streamlining even the most complex steps. 

The gourd growers will be on vacation compared to July but of course there are always little jobs that must be done. Until then pollinate, pollinate, pollinate! Your efforts will pay off in October when you are harvesting a plentiful crop of gourds.  

Young Summer Gourds
Looking at those young summer gourds just makes us want summer to last forever. Enjoy yourselves everyone, see you in August!  
                                     Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond


 Volume 6, Number 65 


In this issue
The History of Gourds: A Trip Back Into Time 

Tutorial: Transforming A Mini-Chinese Bottle Into A Medieval Goblet 

The Art Of Growing Gourds: The Birds and The Bees 

The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper

Reader's Corner, Gourd Sightings and Trivia

The Bulletin Board
"I sit looking at this damn computer screen all day, day in and out, week after week, and think: Man, if I could just find the 'on' switch..." Zachary Good

It wasn't a bad as that but we did have a problem last month in receiving our online orders. It was brought to our attention when a customer called. She had received an order confirmation but we did not
get the order. 

We normally ship the next business day so if by chance there seems to be an unusual time delay with your order please call or email.

We apologize for those delayed orders that were floating around in cyberspace!

Summer Specials
Stock up now!
15 % off on all gourds 
Farm visits only
For details click here:

Generation Green Paint
We are overstocked on the colour Morning Sky. Clearing out at $2.00 while stock lasts.
To view click here:

New Products

Functional Oil Lamp Inserts 
Four inches tall, fits into a 11/16" diameter hole.

An all-purpose suede lace works well with many different kinds of projects.
To view the lamp insert and lace click here:

Belfast 4-ply Wax Linen Thread
New colours: Dark brown and butterscotch, ideal for rim treatments and other projects too!
To view click here:


Another drumming workshop has been scheduled for Wed., July 14th at Northern Dipper Farm. For more info click here:

 Gourd Sighting
Gourd shakers were spotted at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival. To learn more click here:

To hear Eric Clapton & Carlos Santana click here:

    Tutorial: Making Medievel Goblets

- Mini - Chinese gourd: Strong little guys, smaller than a Chinese Bottle, approx 5" tall with a diameter around 4."

-Gourd Luster Pigments:
Choose one as your base colour (I used silver).

-A variety of different colours
for the jewels.(I used Spring
Green, Sky Blue, Red Russet and Sunset Gold.)
- Generation Green Satin Indoor Varnish
- Generation Green Texture Smooth

What To Do?

 Step 1: Cut the Mini-Chinese Bottles and join the pieces as according to the directions. 

Step 2: Taped off gourd awaiting the application of Generation Green Texture

Texture applied. Slowly remove the tape once dry.

 A palette full of colour! Don't be afraid to experiment and use your own colours.

 Life On A Gourd Farm
 A real back saver- a cheap paint  brush attached to a piece of dowel. 

One of our favorite tasks on the gourd farm was pollinating. After dinner we and the dogs would head out to the gourd field armed with our paint brushes attached to long dowel. Summer nights in Southern Ontario are warm and the evening light is golden and rich. It was a perfect way to finish the day.

In the first year, for the first couple of weeks, we could not tell the difference between the male and female flowers, but after pollinating a few hundred flowers we could spot a female flower from a mile away.

A quick and sure way to find a female is to look for the pepo or baby gourd sitting directly under the flower. Once pollinated this gourd baby develops into a gourd.

The night after... Female flowers with pepos. With luck these were pollinated and there will be two gourds sitting here waiting to be harvested in the fall.

 Cucumber beetles can aid in pollination but if they get out of
hand they can be very destructive.

If you find that your vines are
getting out of hand prune the vines at about 10'.

Gourd vines in June. As you can
see there are male flowers starting to appear. The female flowers will come a bit later.

  Gail Jone'sTreasure Box with an Alice In Wonderland Theme 

The Wild World of Babur Benderliogu

Babur is passionate about art. In the 60's Babur discovered gourds but did not begin to create his
wonderful sculpture until 2001.


i Old Chinese Person

 The Last Word!

A doctor was addressing a large audience in Tampa.

"The material we put into our stomach is enough to have killed most of us sitting here, years ago. Red meat is awful. Soft drinks corrode your stomach lining. Some foods are loaded with MSG. High fat diets can be disasterous, and none of us realizes the long-term harm caused by germs in our drinking water."

"But there is one thing that is the
most dangerous of all and we all have, or will, eat it. Can anyone tell me what food it is that causes the most grief and suffering for years after eating it?"

After several seconds of quiet, a 75  year old man in the front row
 raised his hand, and softly said, "Wedding Cake."

  Published by
 Pam Grossi
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7
Northern Dipper
PO Box 1145
5376 County Road 56
RR2, 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