artists, growtips, info & more

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This was the first in a Medieval Hunt series by Jennifer Avery.  This gourd is an award winner & was sold to a private collector. 

In This Issue:  
The purpose of art is the hope that it will evoke a substantial, positive response in the person viewing it. This month's featured artist, Jennifer Avery, accomplishes just that. Her work is filled with detail that draws the eye in, and at the same time, tells a story through images rather than words. Please welcome Jennifer; her art and creativity is an inspiration to all.
                   Bird Ornament by Jennifer Avery

On August 21 we are pleased to have Inuit artist / workshop instructor Elizabeth Gorden gracing the Northern Dipper workbenches. Elizabeth was born in Frobisher Bay, Northwest Territories (now know as Iquluit, Nunavut) and who now lives in Ontario. Her work is a reminder of the time she spent with her Grandmother, great aunts and other Elders in the community. She states that as a child she would marvel at the creases and folds of their faces and was amazed at how soft their skin was.
She would sit and listen to the stories of her family and learn the history and customs of the Inuit people. When she began to work with gourds it only seemed natural to put a face on them..."Just to look at them brings memories flooding back..." Join Elizabeth and learn these unique techniques in gourd crafting. (Workshop listed in right hand column.)
                       Mini gourds in August 
August! A bit of a holiday for the gourd growers although an eagle eye still has to be kept out looking for signs of powdery mildew. In our segment "The Art of Growing Gourds" solutions for this fungal disease will be suggested.

 Jennifer Avery

        Jennifer Avery with her daughter at Tucquan Glen.

In a round about way you can thank Jennifer's daughter for the journey into gourd art. After all, if Jennifer hadn't been pregnant, and if she hadn't decided to take a hiatus from the family's budding mural painting business (scaffolding is hard to climb when you are seven months pregnant), she would have never come across Ginger Summit's book "The Complete Book of Gourd Craft." 

The chances are she would have not stopped at the farm five minutes down the road to buy her first hard-shell gourds and she would have not caught that gourd bug. Looking back Jennifer remembers how her family and friends all got gourd bowls for Christmas that year, and after that she just kept on making them. After a while s
he found she could not stop!

                                   Seahorse Purse 
  Jenn has used inlace with metal flakes to give this purse a little extra punch.

Jennifer's first love was painting, tiny water- colours to huge wall-size paintings, but since she discovered gourds her paintbrushes and oils have been laid to rest. Inspired by the outdoors Jennifer finds that nature has a calming effect on her, a mood which is reflected in the nature notebook she carries under her arm. It is filled with drawings, words and ideas; many of which end up on the shell of a gourd.
Many times what she experiences will be the impetus for a gourd design. Sometimes she will hear a lyric in a song that carries strong visuals and it will end up on a gourd. Obsessions with certain subjects lead to experimentation; the current being marine animals. Jennifer is working on several gourds now; some are more "serious" and some are "fun" Celtic designs inspired by ocean animals. 
When speaking about various techniques Jennifer  points out that pyrography is by far her favorite. She started out with painting on gourds because it was comfortable, but after learning that gourds could be burned, she started to really experiment. Her husband bought her a good pyrography tool and it was then that Jennifer began to develop the techniques she uses now.
Jennifer has exhibited up to 6 art shows per year but now will only do 2. It is important to her that her work stays fresh plus it avoids the pressure of just cranking the stuff out. She firmly states, "I want the quality to be the best and that takes time. And I want to have fun too."
Fun is also found at the PA Gourd Society. As a founder Jennifer spread the word that there was a need. Within two months they were getting ready to become official. Still acive she now serves as their website manager and membership secretary.
                               Follow The Leader
Jennifer lives with her husband and her 10-year old daughter, plus two crazy cats, an anti-social house rabbit, and a goldfish that she thinks might be immortal. Outdoor pets includes hummingbirds and lots of other birds and squirrels too. Fishing on their little boat is a favorite family activity as is hiking and gardening (her daughter grows the prettiest flowers!).
Jennifer sells her work through her website and on Etsy.
To view more of Jennifer's work click here:
Thank you Jennifer for sharing your work with us. Your art is beautiful and we are very impressed that you are learning the fiddle! Good luck with your shows. Carolyn and Linda
Rimming with Philodendron Leaves  
                       by Caroyn Cooper
Tutorial: Rimming with one of Nature's most beautiful and natural products
The philodendron sheath is what protects emerging new leaves of the philodendron plant. As the leaf grows out, the sheath is no longer needed. It dries  and awaits some gourd artist to claim it.
These beautiful reddish brown sheaths become soft and pliable after being soaked in water for 10 minutes and are perfect for twining, plaiting and stitching. I like to add a tablespoon or so of fabric softener to the water. It seems to keep the leaves a little softer once they dry.
What you need:
- A gourd, cut, cleaned and stained how you desire
- Three philodendron sheaths
- Irish linen thread
- Blunt tipped needle
-Tape (I use painters tape but masking tape will work too)
Note: To get this rich coloured gourd I first applied Memories Black Ink. Once dried I then went over it with Memories Ink Cherry Red.
Embellishments can be anything and everything!
I used seed pods, beads, gourd seeds, feathers and a king pod palm for this project.
 A walk in the woods can produce a large number of materials which can be used as embellishments.
For more information on philodendron sheaths click here:

To view Irish waxed linen thread click here:
To learn more about Memories Inks click here:
15% off all dried gourds this month (excluding minis)...perfect timing for the gathering of supplies for this and other fall projects. (Farm visits only) Click here for details:

The Art of Growing Gourds
This letter could not be more timely. It nicely describes our topic of the month - powdery mildew.
Dear Northern Dipper,
I have had a very successful year but am noticing that some of my gourd leaves have white spots. I wasn't too concerned at first but the spots seem to be spreading. What is it and should I be worried?
Hamish Smith - Brandon, Manitoba
Hi Hamish,
What you are describing is powdery mildew, a fungus which are caused by spores which travel with the wind. It first appears as small whitish-gray fuzzy spots on the leaves and if not checked will spread, covering the plant and eventually killing it. It occurs more often in the midsummer humidity and affects some gourd varieties more than others.
     Powdery mildew is hard to control once it takes hold.
The best way to deal with powdery mildew is at the first sign mix together 1 Tablespoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap into one gallon of water. Using a spray bottle saturate both sides of the leaves.
1.) Water your gourd plants well the night before you spray.
2.) Do not apply in the full hot sun as it may burn the wet leaves.
3.) Keep the ground around the base of the plants clear of dried leaves and debris.
4.) Spray once per week until under control.
Good luck Hamish, send us some photos of your crop!
                                            Carolyn and Linda


        Underneath these vines lie hundreds of gourds.

Dear Carolyn
Hi there
What is the difference between the Danish cord and the sea grass? Can they be dyed?
Stephanie Bowes - Seattle, WA

Hi Stephanie,
Danish cord is a man-made product, while sea grass is a natural grass that is hand twisted. Both look great as rimming materials for gourds. Sea grass does dye nicely using hot baths of "Ritz" dyes. The Danish cord is best coloured using spray paint. I find the florists spray paint is better to use as it leaves a less brittle finish.

Thanks for your letter Stephanie - Good question!

Dear Carolyn,
I am a first time grower. Some of my "baby" gourds have turned brown on the vine. Why is this and can I save them?
                       Sonya Goodbrand - Denver, Colorado

Hello Sonya,
In my first year of growing I came across this and wondered exactly the same thing. I learned that these small brownies are gourds that have not been pollinated. And despite our work with the paintbrush (helping Mother Nature along) there will always be some that don't make it. In a nutshell; no they can't be saved. Such is life! Carolyn

          Last But Not Least:
 New Products At
Northern Dipper
1.) Natural Ostrich Feathers: Lengths are approx. 14" and are natural grey with brown and black flecks. Sells 5 to a package.
2.) King Palm Pods: These natural pods are striking when used as a rimming material. Soak them for 10 minutes and they become super flexible and easy to handle. Another bonus - they can be dyed! Sold by the bunch.
3.) Seed Pods: A natural embellishment for rims, masks and gourd sculpture. Comes four per pack. 
To view these products click here:
Looking Ahead: September 2010

We are happy to have with us Georgia artist Sandy Taylor. Floral designer, home decorator, jewelry maker and illustrator are just a few of the accomplishments that fills her resume. In 2004, her obsession with gourds began. Immediately intrigued, she viewed them as a canvas for multi-media experimentation. Next month we will have photos of her latest works which are being entered in the Grand masters Division at the August Georgia Gourd Show . Good luck Sandy! We wish you the best.

September is when people get back to a routine of life and for many, that means bringing out the woodburners, paint and gourds. To help you along our gracious Ms. Cooper will be writing another tutorial for you. Don't know what it is yet but we are sure it will be good!

Harvesting is the next big event in the life of a gourd grower so we will touch on the truths and the fables of the harvest. For example: Is it true that if you drill a hole in a green gourd it will dry faster? You'll find out in the September issue of Gourd Fever. 

In the meantime soak in the summer pleasures of August. See you next month...Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond 
PS Comments, ideas, stories and photos are happily received at


 Volume 6, Number 66 


In this issue
Jennifer Avery: A Visual Display of Medieval Tales, Wildlife & Celtic Design

The Bulletin Board: Northern Dipper News

The Art of Growing Gourds: Powdery Mildew

Tutorial: Rimming Using Philodendron Sheaths

Dear Carolyn and Gourd Sightings

 The Bulletin Board
  August Workshops 

Title: "Gourd Elder"
Date: Sat, August 21
Where: Northern Dipper Farm 
Instructor: Elizabeth Gorden
The figure "Gourd Elder" was designed in the loving memories of
the Elders that Elizabeth grew up with. This workshop will include finishing the gourd, sculpting the Elder's face, making the leather shawl and adding the hair. It is expected to fill up quickly so sign up soon.

"Spirit Figure"
Date: Sunday, August 22
Where: Northern Dipper Farm
Instructor: Carolyn Cooper

This project "Spirit Figure" is a combination of wood burning and dyes bringing life to this hard-shell gourd.

For more information on these workshops click here:

Monthly Specials

 15% off all gourds apart from minis (Farm visits only)
For more information click here:

Jennifer Avery
" When I was bored my mother
would tell me to draw a picture. I guess I was bored alot! I did go to art school with the aspirations of being
a children's book illustrator. However
 I consider myself self-taught."

"The art school was more interested in turning everyone into abstract expressionists. If I was to learn
how to draw and paint in the
realistic manner that I desired, I
was on my own."

" It was Providence. I wasn't planning on becoming a gourd artist; it just happened and I am glad it did."


" I've made hundreds of ornaments from egg and banana gourds. I have yet to repeat an exact design but
 I do repeat themes. Ornaments are fun because they are small and can be done in one day. I tend to draw my designs on a few at a time and then burn them one by one over the next few days."

Pangur Side 1

Pangur Side 2

          Advice To New Artists              
"I personally learn by doing. To me new supplies equals play. I might not be doing it 'right' or the way someone else does, but that doesn't matter.
Be patient. make art because you
love to make art, don't force it.


" I have many interests the latest - learning the fiddle. I also play the
Irish tin whistle. We love music in
 our house, especially Irish and Scottish traditional and Appalachian Old-Time." 

"In the winter I like to crochet fun
little amigurumi (Japanese crochet critters) and  to cook, especially when my daughter is at my side. It is a bonding time for both of us."

Tree of Life


 Tutorial: Rimming with Philodenron Leaves
Step 1:
Cut the top off your washed gourd making a nice opening. Clean out the insides and gently sand the rim smoothing down any cut marks.
Step 2:
Soak the philodendron sheaths soaking in a container of water with a splash of fabric softener.
While they are soaking drill the holes around the rim approximately 1/2 inch apart and 1/2 inch down from the edge.
Step 3:
Once the sheaths have soaked for about 10 minutes, gently fan them
out open and clean. Believe it or not the sheaths are actually tougher
wet than dry.
Wrap the sheath around the rim of
 the gourd and hold it in place using tape. You will not stich the sheath in place all the way around until you have all three sheaths
 in place.
You may have to put one stitch in front to hold it in place. This stitch will be hidden by the second sheath.
Add your second sheath. Once again you may have to stitch it to hold it in place but this time keep it in mind that you may be wanting to hide this stitch under the embellishments. Tape the sheath once again around the rim.
Add the third and last sheath going in the opposite direction. This is stitched all the way around and will be the final sheath.
 If the ends get a little ragged, simply trim and shape with scissors. You may want to tape your ends in their final place and let them dry. This should set them nicely in place.
Finish with your choice of embellishments.

  The Art of Growing Gourds
 The brown marks on the bottom of this gourd is the result of a cucumber beetle chewing into it. Cucumber beetles will still be showing up in August although they will be on the decline. Still, keep them in check.
A long-handled dipper
I trust that most of you got lots of pollinating done in July. Well now it is August and you can stop. In Canada and the northern US there would not be enough time for the gourds to reach maturity.
 Gourds come in many shades of green.
Loofahs drying on the vine.

Dear Carolyn
 Danish Cord
Sea Grass
To learn more about Danish cord and seagrass click here:
Unpollinated gourds

 New Products
 Ostrich Feathers
 King Palm Pods
4.) Philodendron Sheaths:
 These fine, reddish-brown sheaths (as seen in this month's tutorial) are not only lovely with gourds but can be incorporated into basketry with pleasing results. Stunning in fall flower arrangements & wreaths too!
 Gourd Sighting
 Sometimes we like to watch old Seinfeld reruns and some episodes such as the soup nazi - "no soup for you!" stick in the mind. Another one is Elaine's dancing. In this one a gourd shekere was spotted being played
in a doorway.
 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