Note: If using Outlook click the above bar where it says “Click to download photos” The photos are the best part!
A vessel, designed by Mary Hogue
In This Issue: Utah gourd artist Mary Hogue is at one with nature. Mary was born and raised in California, but it is the colours in the Utah landscape, and the patterns, shapes and shadows of the mountains that inspires her in her art.
In turn she has accomplished the thing that all artists strive to do, to cause an emotional response from the viewer. Please welcome Mary Hogue in this March issue of Gourd Fever.
We have a fascinating article sent in by gourd artist Debby Russell who lives in Southern Ontario, Canada. This article is about water-cured gourds, a process that we were not familiar with. The end result is a pale green gourd with a beautiful clear skin, a gourd that looks good on its own and would be stunning with a simple design.
Hot off the presses: Spring is almost here and Northern Dipper is ready for business. With over 10,000 gourds in their inventory there is lots to chose from! Stay tuned as new varieties will be introduced in next month's newsletter.
Mail, trivia and more are to follow but now, please let me introduce our featured artist, Mary Hogue.
Wildcraft Gourd Art
In the late 90's Mary's art was expressed though the beautiful leather clothing she made. She and her husband would travel to shows and festivals such as the Mountain Man Rendezvous in Fort Bridger in WY and at home, she was kept busy building inventory.
In 1997 she went into a leather craft shop to buy a piece of leather for a project. From across the room these strange creatures caught her eye. Finding a sales person she inquired as to what they were and was told they were gourds. It was a magical moment. Mary knew that she wanted to hold them and dream about the things she could do to transform them into art. To begin with, she bought six.
On her way home she could feel her excitement rising. Rushing in the door she grabbed her Exacto knife and cut one open. Using a grapefruit spoon, shell and pottery scraper she cleaned the inside and with each pass she became hooked.
As Mary describes it "The gourds just called to me and inspired me." She loves the large variety of shapes, sizes, styles and the methods and types of art that can be done. Gourds can be functional or simply just gourdeous to look at.
Mary is a self-taught artist. In the beginning she relyed on books to teach herself techniques. She loves "Earthy Colours and The Outdoors" - a book that presents a rich canvas. "The Golden Means" is another favorite.
Mary also strongly believes that if it does not look right then it is not right. For a striking composition the balance of thirds in design puts your art into balance. Colour values are used in places to bring out the parts of the art she wants others to see.
A favorite style of Mary's is carving leaves into a gourd. Leaves represent life in its renewal like the seasons of rebirth and dying. Mary's art reflects Wabi Sabi as well as traditional Native American cultural designs.
Since 2001 Mary has been teaching gourd art in her studio and has had many successful artists learning new skills. Marilyn Sutherland from Utah is extremely talented and was already a good designer when she took Mary's classes.
Mary has gourds for sale in galleries throughout New Mexico, Park City Utah and in The Smithsonian in Washington, DC. She has sold her art at shows in Arizona, California and Utah and has also entered many art shows and won cash awards and lots of ribbons.
Mary plans to continue to push the envelope towards outdoing the last masterpiece she did. It was a giant bushel gourd with carved maple leaves (150 plus hours) called Maple Symphony. It is listed under new works on her website.
Mary has raised six cildren and now has many grandchildren. Mia Jade, her eight year old grandchild lives with her much to her delight. Mary loves the outdoors, animals and has a home on five acres in the country where she grows organic food. She has a great husband who supports her art and does a wonderful job designing and updating her website. Mary's website is:
Thank you Mary. Your art is beautiful, in particular your leaf carvings.
Water - Cured Gourds
by Debby Russell
I know the tops and bottoms don't match but this photo really
shows the difference in air-drying on the left and water-curing
on the right. Quite a difference, eh? That's Canadian for amazing!
While browsing on the "gourdenthusiasta.com" site, I saw amazing artwork done on gourds that were very pale and had none of the markings you would normally see with air-dryed gourds. The artist, Randy Storm, describes how he water-cures his gourds and of course I had to try it! The gourds were ready to work on in about six weeks because I live in Canada. In San Diego, California where Randy lives I suspect the process may happen more quickly.
The smell is quite atrocious so it needs to be done far away from the house. Here with our winters the water froze before the process was completed so some are still out there in the buckets. At one point I was breaking the ice but accidently broke a piece of a large gourd so decided to just leave them alone until spring.
In the right hand column is what I did to water-cure gourds and how they turned out. I bought gourds as late in the fall as possible as I wanted to make sure they were mature. If you are growing your own gourds wait until the vines are dead so you know there will be no more growth.
The worst they smell the better it is. The insides are rotting and after the completed process the insides will easily rinse out leaving a very a smooth inner surface.
This is my finished water-cured gourd. I haven't figured out if the thinness of the shell was caused because the gourd wasn't mature enough or whether the water curing process had anything to do with it. I'll let you know in the spring how the rest of them turn out after the freezing process. I think they should be alright as they'll be totally submerged and freezing in the water, not just sitting, full of water, which I'm sure would make them split.
Happy gourding to you all, Debby Russell
Thanks Debby, this was a very interesting article and I am sure many people will be trying this next fall. Can't wait to hear how the rest of them turned out. See you soon. Carolyn and Linda
To see Debby's great gourd art click here. Once in click on Issue 37.
Out Of The Mailbag
My 17 year old daughter Maggie used two of your gourds (along with two others that we had) to make these dolls for her grandmother for Christmas. Aren't they great!
Thank you for your mail order service. You will hear from me soon. Hannah McKinney
Just a quick note to say "Thank You" for a wonderful newsletter. I have worked on gourds as a canvas for my folk art painting and now as a part of the art dolls I have been creating.
Congrats to Carolyn for her Henry; everyone should have at least one Siamese in their lives. They certainly have a special personality! I have two right now but have always had at least one since my mother brought one home when I was a child.
I think I need to place an order from you soon. I'll check with my crafting friends and will add up the numbers and place an order.
Keep up the good work and thanks,
John Atkinson's trellised gourds
I really enjoyed growing the extra long handled dipper gourds last year and had good success. I would like to grow them again this year.
I have attached a picture of our trellised gourds. I will be entering my longest gourd - 54 inches - in Michigan's only second state wide gourd festival. Thanks, John Atkinson
Bet you had lots of people stopping while these beauties were growing. Let us know if your long handled dipper gourd comes in first. Fifty-four inches is impressive; how long will a dipper grow do you think?
Good luck, Carolyn
Looking Ahead: April 2011
Next month we are honoured to feature Patrick Loafman. Patrick has many interests & accomplishments. He is a wildlife biologist, an amazing artist, musician, instrument maker and a published poet. A master at pyrography Patrick's subject matter ranges from detailed birds and animals to nudes and trendy designs. We are excited and think you will be too.
Spring will be right around the corner and we will be starting our gourd seeds in the heated greenhouse and sunny windows. To start the growing season an article on seed germination will be discussed. Germination is a touch and go situation for some people and this article will offer some tips to make the going easy and successful.
It has been a couple of months since we've had any specials so we will be having some great spring-time sales which always makes people happy! Until then keep your eyes on the sky. The birds will be returning and gourd birdhouses will be number one on the agenda.
Lastly if you get a chance to come to any of the spring shows be sure to drop by our booth. We would love to meet you.
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
Back issues of our newsletter Gourd Fever are on our Website. If you have any comments or photos that you would like to contribute to this newsletter please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 7, Number 72
In this issue
Mary Hogue: Gourd Art Echos The Chorus Of Nature
The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper
Water - Cured Gourds: An article by Debby Russell
Out of the Mailbag, Gourd Sightings & Trivia
The Bulletin Board
March Garden Shows
Come out of the cold and experience the euphoria of spring at these two high-end garden festivals. Beautiful display gardens and speakers await you along with seeds, plants, gifts and supplies.
See you there!
The Stratford Garden Festival
March 3 - 6, 2011
March 16 - 20, 2011
Originals Ottawa Spring Craft Show
April 14 - 17 , 2011
" I love working with the organic gifts from the Mother Earth. Gourds are nature at its
best. I was and still am
inspired by the hard-shell gourd."
"l have tried many techniques on gourd pieces such as painting, carving, inlay, woodburning, etc. It is all experimentation and in this way I do not ruin a good gourd."
"My favorite technique is carving out the gourd but leaving the natural shape of the gourd. I also do a reversed steppling technique that looks like lace the way I place the design on the gourd."
Advice To New Artists
"Safety is my # 1 advice. I stress that in my classes and on my web site on my tool page."
"After learning the basics of gourd art, develp your own style. I always carry a drawing pad and pencil where ever I go to sketch or mark down ideas I see or notice."
Water - Cured Gourds
The test subjects!
WHAT I DID...
Find a likely candidate and chop its head off. I got four different types of gourds for my experiment. I put them in a big plastic bucket, including the heads as I'm sure to use them for future projects.
Cover the gourds with a couple of towels and fill the buckets with water. Use something heavy that fits the bucket to keep the gourds submerged. I used a piece of wood that fit perfectly within the opening.
After a few weeks they will become waterlogged and will stay down on their own. It is important that you don't let them have any air while they are curing
Approximately six weeks later your gourd will look something like this. Mine looked almost transparent and felt rather rubbery. The waxy film slid off quite easily.
I brought this one in the house after the guts and most of the coating came off. I put it in a bucket of water in my laundry tub to finish curing and when I did a load of laundry it would wash the stinky water away. Unfortunately I didn't have room for more than one at a time.
Out Of The Mailbag
A photo of a very simple gourd water bottle.
I am interested in growing or buying gourds for making water bottles. Can you help set me up with the proper gourds and gear to grow them?
Thank you for your email. Gourd water bottles are really cool; so much better than plastic! Chinese bottle gourds and canteens are excellent as water bottles but any type of gourd will work.
If you wish grow gourds take a look at our seed page. There is a picture of what the gourd will look like once it grows.
Beginning in April we will be having a series of articles on how to grow gourds beginning with seed germination.
If you can't wait we have thousands of dried gourds and we do ship everywhere. If you live near by, we welcome farm visits. Give us a call to set up a time.
To view our seed selection click here:
February 3, 2011 was Chinese New Year. It is The Year of the Rabbit. The Rabbit is a lucky sign and the year will allow people to catch their breath and calm their nerves.
This month's gourd sighting was heard on CBC Radio. They stated that if you place a yellow gourd on your desk it will bring good luck.
In the traditional beliefs of China the gourd is considered to be very lucky. It symbolizes wealth and signifies longevity.
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7
Northern Dipper PO Box 1145
5376 County Rd 56
L0L 1L0, Canada