artists, growtips, info & more

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         Ocean Drum - Brown Pelican by Sandra Taylor
This Month: If you were lucky enough to attend the Georgia Gourd Society Festival, you may have met this month's featured artist Sandy Taylor. If not the chances are good you saw her work. She submitted 12 pieces of gourd art and one tutorial for competition and came home with a handful of ribbons. She states that now she has to be careful - her head may be too big to get through the door! Please welcome Sandra Taylor, an artist full of energy, humour and generosity.
A short gourd grow report grace these pages as September is when the gourds mature and ripen during the cool night-time temperatures and warm sunny days. This is the month that requires patience. The gourds are large and look ready to harvest but they are not. Read on and get the true facts on harvesting in "The Art of Growing Gourds."
Our trivia includes a photo of the "World's Largest Rocking Horse', a horse that made it into the Guiness Book of Records. It doesn't have anything to do with gourds but it is cool so there you go! And here we go into the gourd world of Sandra Taylor.  

             Sandra Taylor

The business "Hot Off The Vine" is a growing concern for Sandra Taylor and to think; it all began in 2004 with the gourd her husband picked up at the Farmer's Market. As Sandra held this gourd the artist in her emerged. The possibilities she quickly realized were endless. She loved the natural, golden shell and within moments she was a convert.

Looking back Sandra states that she has always been an artist. In grade school she was always the one doing the hallway bulletin boards, the posters and anything else that was creative in nature. In high school she took advance placement art with the intent of majoring in art education in college. She did go to a liberal arts college and pursued her degree and then life, as it so often does, intervened.

Sandra has been a floral designer, a painter, and a home decor junky but for decades her primary interest was pen and ink artwork.

      Faux Fitz and Floyd Teapot

Sandra describes herself as a pyrographer/ illustrator... "Woodburning is a natural extension of pen and ink work using the same drawing techniques like stippling, shading and cross hatching." She enjoys sculpting and has added a new technique or medium to her "bag of tricks" every year since she started to work on gourds. This keeps it fresh for both herself and the public.

The first technique she perfected was pyrography and then she moved onto pine needle coiling. Another year she added colour and then inlay, carving, and most recently sculpting.  Experimenting with mediums and trying to "invent" new methods sometimes works out and sometimes doesn' doesn't matter; it is all creative and fun.

Marvel Bowl

An outgoing personality makes Sandra a natural ambassador when it comes to gourd art. She loves to teach and has passed her knowledge along in basic pyrography and Apoxie Sculpt as well as more specialized classes such as making ocean drums. She is a member of the American Gourd Society, the Georgia Gourd Society and her local patch called the Hot'Lanta Patch.

Sandy is not interested in displaying in galleries as she has a fear of losing control of her products. However she is very active in marketing her own art and does about a dozen juried shows per year in Georgia and North Carolina. She can be found in her studio or her workshop working 12 hours a day trying to keep up with the demands the shows put on her.

Her husband is very supportive and patient. Sandra has taken over the garage with hundreds of gourds, tools, shelves and workbench plus he helps out with the driving, packing, set-up and all the other gazillion details involved when doing so many shows. Sandy loves people and her energy is contagious when standing in her booth.
In looking ahead Sandy is hoping to be chosen as an Artist In Residence for the Georgia Fair in 2011. They will be featuring gourd art. If the economy ever improves she plans to continue to sell her gourd art to support her ever growing gourd habit!

Christmas Ornaments

A couple of weeks ago Sandy celebrated her milestone 60th birthday! She and her husband live in a suburb of Atlanta along with their two kitties. She has one son who is absolutely wonderful along with an equally wonderful daughter-in-law. She ends the interview by saying that she is blessed to be Southern and although she has lived in twelve different states as a military wife and later a corporate wife, the reality is she is always the happiest when she is pulled back to her Southern roots.

Sandy's business "Hot Off The Vine" has developed a reputation of being hand-made, one- of a kind art. Each piece is created with design in the forefront and it is obvious to anyone who sees her work that this artist truly loves the gourds and the possiblities hidden in the shell.

To learn more about Sandra Taylor click here: 
We look forward to seeing future art and urge that if anyone has an opportunity to sit in on one of Sandy's classes do! This woman is an inspiration and we thank her for sharing her life and art with us this month in Gourd Fever.

The Art of Growing Gourds

e Most people absolutely love September and it is easy to understand why. Warm days, cool nights and outside the window the gourd vines are lush and green. By month end the vines will be showing signs of drying and many first time growers will be very tempted to cut their bounty from the vine.

Do not follow through....gourds should not be harvested until the first hard frost which, in most parts of Canada and the northern US, does not occur until late October. 

At this time of year go through your gourd patch one final time to check that all the gourds are standing upright. Look under the leaves because there will always be a few treasures to be found. 

Looking ahead to harvest time -
For those that trellissed the gourds can be left hanging throughout the winter. The snow, ice and wind will not hurt them and in fact aids in the dying process.

For the ground gourds they could be left as well but it is better to plan to harvest them and then do a thorough clean-up of the gourd patch. The harvested gourds can be stored in a cold shed, garage or outside on the ground on pallets. 

The only exception to this rule is with the minis. The vines will dry off quite quickly but keep in mind that the minis are still green and will require a few months to dry. As with all gourds it is best to cut them from the vine leaving the stem on. Spread them out to dry or stack them in wire baskets as demonstrated in the photo.

Next month will be the final segment in the series "The Art of Growing Gourds." Harvest tips and storage will be discussed. In the meantime take a few moments to pat yourself on the back. You planted the seed, babied the seedings, pollinated night after night, watered and looked for bugs and mildew and now it is almost time for the harvest. Such a satisfying feeling and one of accomplishment and hope. And to think that in the spring these gourds will be your canvas. Now how great is that!

Mark Your Calenders! Its Time For

The Canadian Gourd Society (CGS) Gourd Festival  


When: October 23 and 24, 2010

Where: The Black Creek Pioneer Village, Toronto

This festival is a lot of fun and an opportunity to meet both old and new friends. There is lots to see and do including artists at work, display gourd art and a competition, classes, demos, workshops and a large variety of gourds and supplies for sale.
     Lizard by past winner Mary Druissi Yaber
To learn more about this annual event click here:

Dear Carolyn
Hello Northern Dipper,
I have always wanted to make a gourd purse and now is my chance as I have a couple of beautiful large canteens with nice thick walls. I would like to attach leather straps which I would get from my collection of old purses that I can't seem to throw away. My question is should I sew the straps on or is there some type of hardware I can use to attach them?
An excited gourder from Cornerbrook Newfoundland
Louise Browning
Hi Louise
I have made a few purses using leather straps and what I did is made a trip to my local leather making store and bought a two part post and binder screws. They are also called Chicago bolts. Easy to work with these screws have one side which fits into the other. They secure the strap well and the finished look is clean and professional. I have also made purse straps with satin cord and soft rope and in this case you would sew them on.
Have fun! Carolyn
PS To see a photo of a Chicago screw click here:

The Largest Rocking Horse In The World

Up until this year the largest rocking horse was claimed by Japan but now a group of Canadians have stepped up to the plate. The staff and friends at Pine By Munro / Munro's Furnishings in Innisfil Heights, Ontario have now claimed the title.

This horse was put together last October during a fund raiser for breast cancer. There was a small high-end trade show at the same time and Linda and Carolyn attended. That is Linda sitting under the rocking horse. Munro's Furnishings had a party this year on August 26 which included a contest to name this famous rocking horse!

To read more about this horse click here: 
Looking Ahead: October 2010
We are thrilled to have with us Ohio artist Sher III Feathers. (Sher Fowee) Sher works in mixed media meaning that gourds is one medium that she works with along with others. Most of her art has a Southwestern influence and no two pieces are alike. It's beautiful and we just know that you will find it as unique as we do!
October is harvest time. It is the last step in the growing process and next month we will offer a few tips to ensure that the harvest and drying is successful. 

Hope to see you at the Marshville Heritage Festival Sept 4 - 6th. Stop by and say hello.
             Until next time... 
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond


Volume 6, Number 67 


In this issue
Sandra Taylor: Gourd Artist, Ambassador and Educator 

The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper

The Art of Growing Gourds:
Cool Nights, Warm Days, Ripening Gourds

Dear Carolyn, Gourd Trivia

The Bulletin Board    
Fall Shows

September 4 - 6, 2010
Marshville Heritage Festival
Wainfleet, Ont.

A weekend of family fun awaits you as there is someting for everyone at the Marshville Heritage Festival.

Featuring over 100 juried artisans and crafters in a location that will take you back in time. Lots of demos and entertainment will fill your weekend with good times.

Northern Dipper will have finished product and dried gourds at this show. Carolyn will bring supplies
for people if they pre-order.
 For details click here:

 Sandra Taylor

"Most gourders are continually learning a new medium, a new technique, a new embellishment, or honing our skills with what we know and enjoy best."

" We love talking about them, sharing our knowledge, growing them, and finding new products and tools to enhance them."

 Blue Tamborine

"Since I fell in love with gourds
they are my full-time passion. In
 my pre-gourd days I did portraits, worked in oils, did ink and pen illustrations and was, for a long
time, a jewelry maker."

Rocky Mountain High

" I learn best just by doing - sometimes with less than favorable results. I joke that is why I have a trash  can in my studio." 

"I do lots of research on my computer and pore over other artists websites for inspiration. The "aha" moments happen when I say to myself , Hmmmm, wonder if I could do that my way?"

Words of Advice
For New Artists
"Join a local gourd patch and be a sponge when it comes from learning from everyone else."

"Start small and practice your skills. Don't worry about what others think...just try to please yourself and enjoy what you make."

"Start with inexpensive tools and supplies - you can always upgrade when you become hoplessly addicted."

 Fleur de Soleil

"My long term plans includes continuing to educate the public abour gourds and gourd art in general. It is important to me to convince people that gourds can be fine art and not just crafty birdhouses. I'd like to get involved with some civic groups, women's clubs and garden clubs, perhaps doing demos and exhibitions of gourd art."

Goddess of Summer
She is a Celtic type Goddess under
 a trellis supported by three columns and holds a garden gazing ball. Detailed flowers complete this beautiful piece of art.

Culture of the First People
Tidal Pool Ocean Drum 

The Art of Growing Gourds 
There will be flowers right to the
end but do not waste your time pollinating as there is not enough time for the gourds to grow and mature.
 A heavy trellissed gourd suspended in pantihose can be left hanging on the vine during the winter.
 Minis drying in wire baskets that were strung between two poles.
 The minis will be dry in a few months.

 Previous CGS Entries
Barbara Bell-Chambers classic woman.
 John Proctor, master drum-maker and musician, will be teaching at the 2010 CGS Gourd Festival.
This festival is a family affair. Here kids show off their art.

 Dear Carolyn
I still have a few gourds that a neighbour gave me last year and I thought I might surprise my three young grandchildren with Halloween Jack O'lanterns. What type of paint should I use and do you have any other tips?
Doris Murby - Ontario
Hi Doris,
Dried gourds are a natural at Halloween with witches, Jack o'Lanterns and ghostly figures
 ruling the day.
 Simple fun designs are ideal for younger children while the older ones may appreciate something scary. Acrylic paint is easy to use and provides good coverage.
There are lots of ideas on the Internet and tutorials are offered too. Following are a couple of links for you to follow.
Here is a tutorial by Patti Palmer on making a Jack O'Lantern from a gourd. Just click on our link and
once in click on Issue 8:
Here is a scary shadow box by Karen LoCasale on YouTube.

Workshop Photos
Northern Dipper loves having workshops and here are some happy participants at two of them.
 Elizabeth Gorden teaching the Gourd Elder workshop.
 This is the Gourd Spirit workshop taught by Carolyn Cooper.
Keep an eye out for Northern Dippers mini tutorials.

 Published by
 Pam Grossi
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7
Northern Dipper 
PO Box 1145
5376 County Road 56
RR2, Cookstown, Ontario
L0L 1L0, Canada
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Northern Dipper Farm - 5376 County Road 56, RR2, Cookstown, Ontario, L0L 1L0, Canada