artists, growtips, info & more

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    Tipe Camp by featured artist Kristy Dial of Gecko Gourds

is the month we celebrate the creative energies of the gourd artist. Throughout the year we are in awe of the art and the generosity of spirit of our guest artists, and as is our tradition, we would like to thank each and every one who have been featured in Gourd Fever the past twelve months. 

At year end we like to go back and re-connect and this year we have chosen Este Wiggill and Joan Blackwell. Both these women had gourdly goals and through their efforts, we are all benefitting.
A beautiful contempory weave created by Este Wiggill. Bone beads were added and the gourd is dyed, red over black. 
To refresh your memory Este Wiggill, (Issue # 57) , resides in Namibia, Africa. In addition to producing some fine gourd art it was a goal of Este's to spread the word about the African calabash and all that can be done with them. It was fun getting caught up with Este and seeing some of her latest work.
                   Joan Blackwell's Native Dolls
Joan Blackwell (Issue # 61) was living in Tennessee but had plans to move back home to Pembroke, NC. Along with this move her goals were to continue the creation of some very unique art as well as promoting a strong educational component in spreading the word about gourds. Has she achieved her goals? Read on and you will find out.
To begin however we are thrilled to have with us, as December's featured artist, Kristy Dial. Kristy is the owner of Gecko Gourds and her particular style can be recognized anywhere. Her techniques have been developed over many years leading to art that is wonderfully detailed. In a nutshell Kristy's art inspires and keeps you going back for a second look.

     Kristy Dial

                           Coso Range

It was fifteen years ago when Kristy Dial saw her first gourd displayed in a tiny shop in Idyllwild, CA. Shortly thereafter she took a gourd class at a local community college and before you knew it everyone in her family and all of her friends received gifts of gourds. Her house slowly began filling up and finally her husband asked, "Honey, what are you going to do with all these gourds?" And with that she began exhibit at craft shows and Gecko Gourds was born.

Being raised in Tucson, AZ, Kristy has a strong connection to the southwest and Native American culture. In addition, the Plains Indians and their art has been a significant source of great inspiration. Kristy and her family love to explore the southwest, visiting ancient Native American dwellings and petroglyph (rock art) sites. Kristy feels the rock art of the southwest and gourds are a perfect marriage.

                     Pony with Blue Bird

Kristy has taken a couple of classes over the years but is much more comfortable working on her own and "playing" in her studio. She states she is one of thoses brave or foolish souls (depending on how you look at it) short she will look at something and just go for it.

If a technique has inspired or intriqued her, she will try to figure out on her own how it was done. Sometimes she will get it right and sometimes it is a miss but no matter; Kristy always takes pleasure in creating something original out of her experimentation.


As with many great gourd artists Kristy teaches all over the U.S. Just this year alone she has taught at Welburn's Gourd Festival, Wuetz Gourd Festival, Florida Retreat, Texas Gourd Festival, the San Francisco Bay area and Arizona. She has also taught in Idaho and Montana.

Kristy offers classes in her home in San Diego and will, upon request, travel across the States to teach gourd groups and societies. She is a member of the American Gourd Society, the California Gourd Society, and the San Diego County Gourd Patch.

Recently Kristy has been exploring other media, which is great fun and presents new challenges. But because gourds have been such a big part of her life, and her family's lives, she always returns to the gourds. She says that she somehow can't see  doing art without them being incorporated in some manner.

                          Gourd Horse

Twenty-eight years ago Kristy met her husband on a blind date and the rest became history. She is quick to say that she would not have been able to progress with her art without the support of her husband. He has fixed many dinners, washed hundreds of gourds and helped Kristy get to the numerous shows she does every year. And although her two  wonderful children don't really like gourds, they too have pitched in when necessary.  

In her studio you will always find Lacie her rescue "mutt" by her side. He loves to clean up the gourd guts and Kristy states that Lacie is the best dog in the world. For enjoyment Kristy and her husband can often be found exploring the Southwest, travelling to the numerous petroglyph sites in California, AZ, NM, and Utah. Long term plans is to one day move to the property they own in Idaho where they will fly fish, hike and get more people interested in gourds.

To view more of Kristy Dial's art click here:
To see Kristy's horse on YouTube click here:
Thank you Kristy. We were honoured to feature you and your art and look forward to seeing future projects in the new year. Your work really is amazing!  

                    Este Wiggill
We wrote to Este and received this letter back...

The lion family has some weave and plant material and a "Ekipa" which is carved out of bone, previously out of ivory. It is a well-known piece of African jewellery and the more you   had, the greater your wealth was.

Hello Northern Dipper,
What a nice surprise to hear from you and also thank you for thinking of me.

Yesterday we had 35C weather. That cold weather of yours would have been welcome! Thank goodness today it is clouds and thunder, and I think our first rain is here - time to put in a seed or two.

Yes I am still gourding, although I did not do as much as I would have liked this year. However, I did give a radio talk on our NBC Afrikaans station a little while ago. It was divided over two Saturdays and the people really enjoyed it. Then I had another talk and offered a competition where I gave away a free class and a DVD - "Calabashing For Beginners" which I made in 2007. A lady from Gobabis (a small town about 300 km from Windhoek) won the class and another one in the south won the DVD.

I plan to exhibit my art at the local art studio and am hoping to get some local media coverage so that people can go and look at what all can be done with the gourds. So wish me luck; I will never give up pushing gourd art in that's what you can call properly bitten!

             Silvanus's Zebra Done With A Dremel

Pictured above is a gourd by my gardener Silvanus. He has now upgraded himself in using my dremel and loves doing etching.

On my website I have a page called Oupili Village. It is the homestead of my friend who supplies me with calabash. You might like it as it is a picture story of how they live in their villages in the north. I still need to add a few more pictures and then it will be complete. The traditional dress, as you will see, are pink striped dresses.

I hope to hear from you soon again and enjoy the pictures.
Best regards,
Este Wiggill

Thank you my friend, it is always a pleasure to receive emails from you. We do wish you luck with your exhibit; we know you will be a hit!
                                               Carolyn and Linda 

                Joan Blackwell
Well hello there,
Thanks for writing. My how the time has flown by!
I did move home to Pembroke, NC last June and purchased a home in August. In September I taught "Introduction to Gourds" classes from September through to November. This class was sponsored by the Lumbee Tribe and given at three of their Boy's and Girl's clubs. The children loved the classes and I will return yearly.

I am also in the process of setting up Elder's classes at their community centers. Between all of this, I attended the annual NC Gourd Festival in Raleigh, NC and taught classes in my home studio.
I also did a presentation at the University of NC at Pembroke regarding my work. Yes, the people here love my art and want to learn more.
I've attached a few pieces I've done since returning home. It is an exciting time for me. I appreciate your note and will keep in touch.
Wishing you the best!
Joan C Blackwell
Blackwell Gourd Designs
Proud Army Mom, Lumbee and Gourd Artist

Joan, you are making a difference in your local community and we are certain that you are opening unexplored roads with both the kids and with the Elders. You sound very happy with your move and it is obvious from your letter that you lead a very rich life. Thanks and keep in touch with your new art.
                                              Carolyn and Linda
To see the original interviews with Estee and Joan click here and then click on Issue 57 for Este and Issue 61 for Joan.

Reader's Corner 
A letter from Norm Matter...

Hello Northern Dipper,
Here are some pictures of this years crop. We have about 120 gourds but expect to lose a lot of them. We will be lucky to get 50 keepers. It has been a good year for gourds! Norm

Here is Norm on his garden tractor. There is nothing nicer than travelling through the field on a beautiful day harvesting gourds and pumpkins.

So many shades of green in a crop of gourds.

Thanks Norm, these are real beauties. What do you plan to do with them once they dry? Let us know! Carolyn and Linda 

Looking Ahead: January 2011 
We thought it would be exciting to start the year by travelling to Australia to have a visit with artist Maureen Hall. Maureen's creativity is apparent in everything she does. As you approach her home the first thing that takes your breath away is her glorious gardens. And then her gourd art! It was a wonderful experience meeting Maureen and we welcome her in our January issue of Gourd Fever.
New workshop schedules at Northern Dipper Farm will be posted in January 2011. We have had many requests for classes and find that after a workshop everyone has a 'glow'. There is a real kinship among gourders, no matter what geographical region you live in. It is uplifting to think of how a common interest can bring so many people together.
To end, we wish you all the best in 2011. We would like to thank all of our customers, suppliers, friends and family for supporting Northern Dipper the past year. A joyous holiday season to all of you.
                            Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond  






Volume 6, Number 70 


In this issue:

Kristy Dial: Primitive Art and Gourds - The Perfect Marriage!

Two Artists Making A Difference In The Gourd World
The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper 
Reader's Corner, Gourd Sightings & Trivia

 The Bulletin Board

   Gift Certificates
We are here to make your life easy with Northern Dipper Gift Certificates. Available in denominations of $10.00, $25.00, $50.00 and $100.00 it will make your shopping stress-free.
To learn more click here:
 Christmas Shows
 The Originals Ottawa Craft Show
When: Dec 9 - 19, 2010
Where: Lansdown Park, Ottawa
 For more info click here:
Northern Dipper will have lots of finished product at the Christmas shows.
 Year End Clearance Sale
 The past two months we have had some fantastic sales on discontinued stock and we are happy to say that our shelves are looking emptier.
We still have a little left so take advantage of the great savings.

  Kristy Dial
"Art has always been a part of my life. I attended the University of Arizona and took numerous art courses. My career has been in the graphic arts and the printing business."

Shaman Doll in a large shadow box

Running Free

"I think it is important to honour the gourd, not just use it as a blank canvas you can buy at the store."
"When people look at my art, I don't want them to guess if it is a gourd, I much prefer to hear, 'Oh it's a gourd!'
"I want the gourd to shine. I just
add a little art to draw attention to it, but then the gourd takes over and does all the talking."

Maiden (Front)

Maiden (Back)

Advice To New Gourders
"Think positive! Stop telling yourself that you are not an artist or that you are not creative. Gourds are inexpensive, so if you mess up it's not the end of the world - it is just a gourd. Just pick up another one and try again."

"If you are inspired by a gourd you have seen or a particular artist's work, take that as an inspiration and create your own design. Yes it may not and probably ought not to look like the original gourd, but it will be your own and something you can be proud of."

Cave Horses

Metal Shards

Spirit Bear

Fancy Shawl


A different view...

 Este Wiggell
Este holding a dried African calabash.

 A contempory weave with beaded medallions (which I finished today just for you!)

 The stone inlay is amazoite and I used ink and dye and gold-leaf.

Este's Elephant - This is so much fun!

Gourd birdhouses are popular around the globe.

 This is an early gourd that Silvanus made. He used a magnifying glass and the sun to burn in the image.

Joan Blackwell
Joan holding a colourful gourd.

Turtles in a sea of green
 A blue kitty cat

  Gourd Sightings
A road trip to Pittsburgh resulted in many gourd sightings for Dana and Antonella. Pittsburgh is a fabulous city with lots to see and do.
The first three gourd sightings were seen at the Phipps Conservatory, a botanical wonderland, which is located near the University of Pittsburgh.
The next two sightings were seen at La Feria, a Peruvian craft shop and restaurant located in Shadyside, an area that is popular with tourists.
To learn more about the Phipps Conservatory click here:
To learn more about LaFeria click here:

 Published by:
Pam Grossi
Victoria, BC

Merry Christmas
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