artists, growtips, info & more

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Raptor by artist Bill Decker
In This Issue:  We are pleased to feature artist Bill Decker, a man who is inspired by the nature which surrounds him on his rural farm in Jackson County, Mo. Bill has been working with gourds for four years but has a long history with watercolour and pen and ink. An outstanding artist and an ambassador in the promotion of gourd art, Bill's enthusiasm rubs off on everyone he meets.

Christmas is right around the corner and people are back in their workshops or at the kitchen table creating gourd art. This month we have a tutorial on how to make a three layered canteen gourd snowman. They are very cute and are so easy to make that children can do them. (They would be a cherished gift for the grandparents.)
Last month Northern Dipper exhibited at the Ball's Falls craft show. Carolyn and Linda's booth fit the season and they had a good time. Here are a few photos of their booth.
                      The final touches...
 Carolyn with a Halloween greeter.
 It was surprising the number of people that took  photos while standing beside the gourd heads!
"Paint Your Own Pumpkin" , using gourds, is always extremely popular at the Ball's Falls show.
 It is a great hands-on experience for those not familiar with gourds.

Bill Decker

                              Owl with Mouse

One year, while volunteering for the Missouri Conservation Department, Bill Decker was asked to draw designs on pumpkins for a fall childrens' event. The response to Bill's designs was overwhelming but as we know, pumpkins rot after a few weeks. His drawings were gone forever.

A time later during a trip to Branson, Mo, he stopped at the Peter Engler Gallery and much to his delight, saw many examples of gourd art. He sought out some raw gourds and discovered that after the first day he was hooked.

When asked what it was about gourds he loved  Bill replied it was the fact that they are not perfect. For some reason this opened up the door of creativity for him and since that time, he has not looked back.
You would half expect this owl to ruffle his feathers due to the                                     exquisite detail.

Nature is Bill's greatest inspiration in creating gourd art. He loves the beauty of the land, birds, animals, water, the sky, the trees and flowers. Previous to gourds, Bill's art work was watercolour painting and pen and ink drawing. These days the welcomed challenge is creating sculpture by combining several gourd pieces and allowing the original idea for a particular gourd to flow into a natural shape. For the past four years Bill has worked exclusively with gourds.

As you can see from Bill's work woodburning is definitely a favorite technique. He prefers to work with gourds that have a smooth colour or that is only slightly marked so that the wood burning strokes show up better. Bill is mostly self-taught and states that trial and error is a very good teacher indeed.

Once he learned the basics of a wood burning pen Bill did take a course at the Missouri Gourd Festival with Joe Lee from Indianapolis, Ind. When working on a piece of art Bill will often refer to his large collection of art and nature books and of course, there is the input and encouragement from other gourd artists such as Bert Petrie and Judy Rickie.
                             Celtic Rings

A piece of art begins with an idea and this is when Bill will pick up a pencil. He free-hands a drawing on the gourd shell and then begins to burn the pencil lines. As the work progresses the design may change to present a smoother flow to fit the body of the gourd. Very often the finished product is not totally the idea that Bill started out. The changes lead to better continuity within the piece.

This is especially true when creating a bird sculpture from gourd pieces. His philosophy is that he has to be receptive to the demands of a gourd. Bill's goal is to create a piece that is esthetically pleasing to the idea as opposed to a realistic representation of any particular bird.


Bill Decker is involved in many aspects of the gourd world. He began teaching a couple of years ago and enjoys working with people as they learn his wood burning techniques. He is currently serving as a director for the Show-Me Gourd Society in Missouri and as a director, he is involved in the planning and assisting with their annual gourd festival. Bill is generous in spirit and finds it very rewarding to show others how wonderful the world of gourd art can be.

Bill and his wife Donna volunteer at out-of-state gourd festivals as well. They are members of the American Gourd Society, Texas, Arizona and Georgia Gourd Societies and is a juried member of The Best of Missouri Hands, a Missouri Artisans Association.

Bill and Donna live in rural Jackson County, Mo on the farm where Bill was raised. They have two sons and seven grandchildren. One of the things they share with their family is encouraging their art interests...they are probably Bill's biggest fans!

Bill and Donna both love the outdoors and they can often be found sharing walks, biking or kayaking. They love trips to the mountains where they hike and enjoy the wonders of nature. They are active members/volunteers at their home church and Bill is continually grateful for his God given talent and for all the enjoyment and opportunities it has provided him.

We are grateful as well as Bill's work is so unique it truly is inspirational to all who see it.

To learn more about Bill Decker and to view more of his wonderful art click here:

Thank you Bill for sharing your art and your thoughts with us. You are a master with the wood burning pen and if we ever get the chance we will see you at one of your workshops! 
Carolyn and Linda

Creating a Cute Three Layered                     Snowman 

This is an easy to paint snowman for the holiday season that young and old can easily do.
Required tools:
Three different sized canteens
Strong glue
Apoxie Sculpt
Paper rush
Paint: Black, white and terra cotta
To view the Canteen gourds click here:
To learn more about paper rush click here:
For Apoxie Sculpt click here:

Introducing Joanne Kyle
Joanne is the owner of "Gone To The Birds", a business whose focus is; yes you guessed it, birds! Joanne is new to gourds but as you can see she is a natural. Crafting of any kind appeals to her but anything nature-related is her favorite. 
Her motto is "Made for Nature...from Nature" and her line of bird houses, feeders and supplies is fresh and new. Made from all natural materials including wood, moss, twigs, bark and now gourds, Joanne's product line is purchased by rural land owners through to  condo living urbanites.
When she is not busy with her bird business she is running the Tynee Tykes Home Childcare in Newmarket, Ontario. Joanne has two daughters ages 14 and 19.
Joanne will be exhibiting her products at the Sugar Plum Fair Craft Show at the Nottawasaga Resort, Ontario. Stop by...her wooden houses and feeders are just as wonderful as her gourd houses!
For details about the Nottawasaga Resort craft show click here:
To view Joanne's bird products click here:

Dear Carolyn
Good morning Carolyn,
John Rosener calling. I wrote earlier in the year with a chewed gourd story (cats). I did as you suggested and gave it TLC. I cut the extra blooms off and kept three. Only one has survived to this point and as you can see this gourd is about the size of a medium cantalope.
Last night we had snow in Stratford. I had it covered but I think the time is coming to harvest. So I'll cut it off leaving a lot of stem and hang it downstairs.
How long will it take to completely dry out? I'll try and fight through the "blizzard" and get a picture. Any other suggestions?
Hi John,
Thanks for your letter. That is a beautiful gourd you have and providing it is mature should dry quite nicely. Leave your gourd until the vines are dead and then cut it from the vine. This happens after the first hard frost.
Gourds, apart from minis, usually take an entire winter to dry. It may get peeling skin and will definitely mold over...patience is required and it is not easy!
You can, if you like, hang your gourd in an onion bag outside in a tree. The snow, ice and wind will help it and it will look pretty after a snowfall. Let us know how it all turns out in the end and what you plan to do with it after it drys. Good luck...
Here is a field full of drying gourds. They get good air circulation during the winter and are easy to collect in the spring.
This is a canteen gourd molding over during the winter. The mold can be thick and look like velvet.

Looking Ahead: December, 2010
December is an exciting time at Northern Dipper as it is the month of the artist!  First of all we are so pleased to have with us, as our featured artist,  Kristy Dial. Kristy is an amazing artist. Her award-winning work is a draw at every show she attends and her passion gives 
spirit and motivation to those who cross her path. We are thrilled to feature Kristy; a fact that you will understand when you meet her next month. 

As is our annual tradition, December is when we like to honour the many gourd artists who have graced the pages of Gourd Fever during the past twelve months. We will check in with a couple to see how and what they are doing. It's a bit like seeing an old friend you have been out of touch with; always interesting and always fun!

We also have some letters to share plus some good gourd trivia. So until next month, stay happy and healthy. 
                                    Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond  

Write us. We would love to hear what you are up to.
Send to


Volume 6, Number 69 


In this issue:

Bill Decker: Living The Gourd Life!
The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper
Tutorial: Creating A Layered Canteen Snowman    
Dear Carolyn, Reader's Corner and Gourd Sightings

  The Bulletin Board

  Clearance on Discontinued Products
Time to clear some room in
our shop so we are extending our blow out sale.


30% off all books. Over 16 titles to choose from.
Great for the crafters, carvers and musicians on your Christmas list.
(Prices on the website already reflect the 30% off sale.)
To view the books click here:
 A Deal On Inlace
 A kit makes life easy. Contents: Inlace and buffing and polishing compound.
Reg price: $38.98
Sale price: $24.00 while quantities last.
 To view click here:
Gourd Luster Pigments
Non-tarnishing, water resistant and colour-fast.
Fifteen intense, lustrous colours to choose from.
Reg price: $4.50
Sale price: $2.25
To view click here:
 Canteen Gourds
These canteens are seconds, meaning that they are not super thick. They are excellent for painting but not good for carving or for super-study bowls.
These gourds are what is required for this month's
 tutorial "Creating A Three
-Layer Snowman"
 Let us know if you are ordering for the snowman and we will choose appropriate sizes.
 Canteen Sale: 20 % off
(Seconds Only)
Microlux Mini Gourd Saw

This amazing palm-size tool is ideal for very fine detail work. The rounded shoe permits high maneuverability and keeps the cutting line visible for increased accurancy.

Specifications: 3 1/2" long, 9.2 ounzes, variable speed 1800 to 6900 rpm. Maximum cutting thickness is 9/32". A strip of coarse blades is included.
To view this saw click here:

Bill Decker
"I strive to do my best on each piece but perfection is not my goal. Mistakes happen and now I just try
 to make the best of them."

Avian Dreams
A little bird peeking out
 into the world!
 Egg Feather
"When I was 8 or 9 years of age a neighbour, who was an artist, gave me a few art lessons. She saw potential and gave me encouragement. I did eventually receive an art degree but never made a living in the art field. It has however been a wonderful hobby for me over the years."
 Words of Advice For The
New Artist
"There is not a right way or a
 wrong way of developing gourd
art. That's what I feel is so
 wonderful about this medium; it
can be whatever you want it to be."
"Be willing to make mistakes and
 that is how you learn what works and what does not work for you."
The Hunter 
 "My long term plans is to continue producing gourd art with a focus on sculptures. My sculptures are very time consuming and I need to spend more time actually creating my art." 
" I have entered gourd festival competitions for four years now 
and have won serveral awards in
 a number of states. Meeting the
 people at these shows is very interesting and fulfilling."
" I have sold my gourd art through the Peter Engler Gallery, Branson, Mo., Powell Gardens Gourd Show, Kingsville, Mo., and the Cultural Center, Kerrville, Tx."
" I am currently showing and selling my work at The Gallery at Round Top, Round Top, Tx. I also sell my
 art on consignment."
  Owl Mask
"Bill creates his art much like he drives when on a road trip or on vacation. He takes his time, enjoys the scenery, and lets the trip unfold along the way."

 Tutorial: Canteen Snowman
Step 1: Clean the outside of the gourd. The only gourd that needs the inside cleaned is the middle one.
Step 2: Cut a design (stars are fun) in the middle gourd as a light will be placed inside to shine through.
Step 3: Glue the three canteens together. It is best to let the glue dry before continuing.
Step 4: Once the glue is dry check to see if you have large spaces between the gourds.
If so, there are several things that you can do. Either fill in the areas with Apoxie Sculpt or wrap a piece of paper rush around the seams and hot glue it into place.
Step 5: Paint the snowman white. Eyes are black with a touch of blue. Nose is a small piece of Apoxie Sculpt painted terra cotta or orange.
Step 6: Finish the project with a good non-yellowing varnish. I suggest Generation Green. Insert a small battery operated light and enjoy.
NOTE: Do not use real candles in your gourd. It is a big safety hazard.

Joanne Kyles's Gourd Houses

Dear Carolyn
Hi John,
 Here are a few photos of drying gourds.
 This is an immature gourd. See how it is collapsing in on itself. When it was green it looked like a normal gourd. (I am sure yours won't look like this John.)
During the drying process all the white pulp with dry up and you will be able to hear the seeds rattling around. That is when it is dry.
This is an old photo but I like it. It took two strong men to lift these gourds into the bucket of the tractor. They made beautiful drums and bowls once they dried.

Originals Ottawa Christmas Craft Show
When: Dec 9 - 19, 2010
Where: Lansdowne Park, Ottawa
This is one stop Christmas shopping for every one on your list. Lots of vendors and good cheer make this show enjoyable. Stop by and say hello to Carolyn and Linda - they would love to meet you.
For details on this show click here:

  Gourd Sighting
 Thank you Antonella for sending in this gourd sighting from "Home Made Simple." These birdhouses are beautiful in their simplicity and are easy to make. To see this article on how to make these houses click here:

 Published by:
Pam Grossi
Victoria, B.C.
Northern Dipper
 PO Box 1145
 5376 County Road 56
 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