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                           Gourd art by Bill Colligen 


In This Issue: We are honoured to have with us Arizona artist Bill Colligen. Bill has, through trial, error and experimentation, developed a unique style that is his alone. His latest art, the ancient ritual vessels, is reminisent of the bronzed vessels found in China from many centuries ago. These, and Bill's other gourd art is impressive. Please welcome Bill Colligen to the June issue of Gourd Fever. 
Out in the garden the seedlings have been planted and with luck the sun has been shining and the soil is warm. In 'The Art of Growing Gourds', we are going to examine some pests that could potentially cause problems. We will touch on hand-pollination and how to tell the difference between male and female flowers. Before you know it you will have gourds developing and with a little attention, your yield can grow significantly. 

To get us in a gourdly mood here is a lovely poem written by Carol Owens
 of Barrie, Ontario. Thank you Carol, this poem best describes the versatility of the hard shell gourd as well as the joy we feel when working with them.
Ode To The Gourd by Carol Owens
O nature's shell, you serve us well
To cut or dye or burn,
Or be a drum - that's so much fun
There's just so much to learn!

With snaky shapes you make it rain,
The rounder ones take paint
Or make abodes for little toads,
But edible you ain't.

You're good for baskets, spoons and bowls
And instruments, it seems,
Or tiny ornaments, like elves,
And great for catching dreams.
So many ways to dress you up!
What more is there to say?
It's all great art, and for your part
You're gourd-geous every day!

                          Bill Colligen


In 1995 Bill took a road trip to Santa Fe and Taos, NM and it was on this trip that Bill's life took an unexpected turn. He saw the gourd art of Robert Rivera and brother Ron...Bill was awestruck. Interest sparked, ideas were already percolating within that creative mind.
Bill's first stab was with a Wal-Mart wood burning tool but it didn't take him long to realize that it was not the tool for him. He needed something with which he could create the fine details for which he is now known and purchased the Detail Master burning system. Ahhh - now he had the freedom he needed. 


Looking back Bill states that art has always been a part of his life. When other kids in grade school were off playing ball and shooting BB guns Bill would go out to the woods with a pad of paper and sketch wildlife. As a matter of fact he was called "Billy-the Boy Artist" by family members. At the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University he majored in Art Ed but became distracted after three semesters. He longed to leave his small Arizona town for the mystique of Los Angeles and finally, all caution thrown to the wind, Bill packed up and moved. The year was 1966.

Bill's artistic interests were put on the back burner for the next 26 years. He worked at various jobs unrelated to art and ended up working with a landscape firm in Northern California where he learned an abundance of knowledge centering on plant life and species. He became a Master Gardener and began to design Zen gardens. In 1995 he returned to Arizona and continued his landscape career.

Gourds were a creative pastime for Bill and in 1997 he joined the Artists' Cooperative in Jerome, AZ. He now describes his beginning art as his crude gourd pieces but soon realized that people liked them and purchased them.

Since that time Bill has created his own unique style with a museum-like quality that really stands out. He has won numerous awards for his art which is amazing because Bill is completely self-taught. He finds that something will catch his eye and with patience and persistance, he will do his best to translate it into his own design.

Bill lives in a wonderful 2.5 acre space with his two dogs, Minnie and Paco. They are the loves of his life; his faithful companions. He gardens with flowers and vegetables and has over 100 trees on the property. There is an abundance of wildlife and birdlife and the space and peace adds to Bill's inspiration and creativity.

A lot has happened to that young boy in the woods, sketch book in hand, and the way we see it, it happened just as it should. As a youngster Bill dreamed of being an artist and now, luckily for us, he has accomplished his dream.

To learn more about Bill Colligen and his art click here:
Bill's art is featured at the Lanning Gallery in Sedona, Arizona as well as other venues. Here is the link to the Lanning Gallery:
Thank you Bill. Your art is absolutely amazing and we are excited about what is "around the bend" too. We look forward to seeing further works from you. Carolyn and Linda

The Art of Growing Gourds

Female flowers always have a little baby gourd ( a pepo) underneath the flower. If the female flowers are not pollinated the pepo will turn brown and die.

Your seedlings should be looking strong with healthy green leaves depending on the weather conditions. If you have experienced lots of rain you may notice that the stems are splitting. Do not fret! They will survive believe it or not. 

It will be a couple of weeks before there will be any blossoms. Gourd flowers are night blooming and when they first come out it seems as though there are tons of male flowers and no female flowers. The females will soon follow...they just like to make an appearance. 

If you are growing on a trellis, once the vines get long enough, start training them upward. The tendrils on a gourd vine are thick and strong and once started, the vines will find their way up with little assistance.
Hand Pollination - A Happy Experience!

If your gourd growing area is wide, a trick is to use cheap paint brushes attached to a piece of dowel. Now you can reach the middle with ease.

If you live in an area where there are not many night-flying insects, hand pollination is essential. Why? Because every female gourd flower that is pollinated will develop into a gourd.
For the beginner it will be hard to distinguish a male flower from a female but after two - three weeks of pollinating, you will be able to tell the difference from six feet away.
Gourd vine are monoecious - that is that there are both male and female flowers on the same vine. The male flowers will be found on the main vine and the females will be found on the lateral or side vines.
           Left: Female Flower ; Right: Male Flower
The females have a raised, golden yellow center. There will always be a baby gourd or pepo directly under the bloom. Females like to hide under leaves so make sure to pick up the leaves and take a peak. 

Males have a recessed pale yellow center. They grow on longish stems and nine times out of ten, on most nights, there will be more males than females.
These gourds were pollinated early. The yield is greater and the early ones will have lots of time to grow and mature. 

Using a cheap, small paint brush find a male flower, dab and then find a female flower, dab. Do this every evening in June and the early part of July and you will end up with a beautiful crop.

An Invitation to the GAG's Saturday Get Together
The GAG's Get Together is the second Saturday of every month here at Northern Dipper. The time is from 11 am to 3 - 4 pm depending on what we are working on. There is no cost, everyone brings a lunch and their own supplies. We try a different project every month.
Last month we did pine needle coiled bases on gourds. (There we are working in the sunshine.) If anyone would like to drop in and give it a try check out our GAG's on Yahoo groups or contact Carolyn at

Thank you For Your Support! 
On April 30, in Vaughan, Ontario, I participated in the Canadian Cancer Society Cops For Cancer Event. My goal was to raise $2000.00 and due to many peoples' donations, I raised $2430.00. The total sum raised online was $51,000.00.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who did donate to this worthy cause. The money will be put to good use and will help save people's lives.
                                                 Linda Bond
                                ...and after
To learn more about Cops For Cancer click here:

Here are some of the gourds that are on sale (20 % off) during the month of June. That is Linda far, far away at the end of the bins!

Imagine: It is a beautiful July day. We are driving along a country road set back in the woods and are heading to a magical place called Gooseberry Lane. 

Waiting for us is
Nancy Overmyer, an artist well-known for her nature inspired gourd vessels. More recently, Nancy has caused quite a stir with her collection of fairies; each one different and each with their own distinct personalities.

Nancy has had a long history with art and next month we will join her as she talks about her journey and how it got her to where she is today. 

Out in the garden pollinating on a nightly basis will continue into July. There should be lots of young gourds now. Easy to see on a trellis but a little more difficult with the ground grown. Don't despair, look under the leaves - you will find some nice gourd action happening there.  

Next month a little pruning instruction will be in order along with other topics such as powdery mildew. Growing gourds is so much fun!!! 

We also have a couple of things up our sleeve but in the meantime; enjoy the  lazy summer weather.
Until next month....
                                        Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond 

PS If you have any stories or phots that you would like to share please send to


Volume 7, Number 75 


In this issue:
Bill Colligen - East Meets West: Beauty, Balance and Tranquility 
The Bulletin Board - News From Northern Dipper
The Art of Growing Gourds
Out of the Mailbag, Gourd Sightings & Trivia
The Bulletin Board


Sizzling Hot June Sales
20% off all gourds
(excluding minis.)

Thousands of gourds to choose from.

 Treat Yourself To A Summer Workshop

Making A Gourd Banjo
with Jeff Menzies!

Friday, July 8, 2011
This 5 day workshop will offer students a thorough and detailed experience in creating a gourd banjo.

Jeff has built banjos for
Mike Seeger, Mary Cox and other great musicians and is an expert in his field.

Sign up soon - this workshop is in demand & is filling up quickly.

Dream Catcher
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Dream catchers are a natural when used with gourds. Learn three techniques in this workshop.

Drum Making
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Drumming is good for the soul and it is a special moment when it is your own drum you are using. Back by popular demand this drum making class fills up fast so sign up today!

Southwestern Lizard
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Learn how to use airdrying Apoxie Sculpt. Once you know the basics, the world is the limit!
For more information on these workshops click here:

 Bill Colligen
"I cannot quit this. I inspire myself with every piece I work on. Every day I wonder what might be just around the
next bend..."

Bill talks to a group about his gourd art. 

Sketching in the design

"One might call my inspiration "East meets West" with a strong design sense from Japanese wood cuts and Native American geometric designs"

"I began with Southwest designs taken from pre-historic Anasazi pottery using leather dyes and have evolved into a world of design I had never imagined."

"The Asian influence comes from my fascination with Kabuki theater and the whole Geisha/Courtesan syndrome. Most of all is the outrageous costuming."

"I love translating my interpretation in very detailed fashion. I cannot do a simple design."

Words of Advice For New Artists
"Find your own niche - be inspired with others work and translate it into your own - don't reproduce theirs."


"Follow your feelings. Just go with it. Do not fear rejection or failure in anything that you do!"


"My favorite pieces are the latest I have been playing with. I call them relics, ancient looking bronzed vessels from many centuries ago...maybe found in a Chinese ruin or dug out of the earth."

"The patina inspiration comes from the Chinese Ritual Bronzes of the Shang and Zhou dynasties + / - 1600 - 200 BC. I viewed a showing of them at the Authur M. Sackler gallery in Washington, DC just a couple of weeks ago."

Carved gourd

Bill and Shirley
To view more of Bill's art click here:

The Art of Growing Gourds
 Biological control of pests is by far the best way for dealing with pests but sometimes other methods work well too. Here at Northern Dipper we believe in using natural methods of control. If, by chance, you find that the pest population is getting out of hand, contact your local nursery for advice.

Cucumber Beetles
Cucumber beetles are very destructive to a gourd crop. Easy to recognize they have yellowish-green bodies with either stripes or spots. The adults can transmit diseases such as bacterial mosaic
and wilt.
In the spring/early summer these beetles have a ferocious appetite going after new shoots and leaves. Later on in the season they will chew right into a green gourd.
There are a few methods that people can use to control these pests. They are:
1) Repellent plants - Calendula, catnip, nasturtiums, radish and marigolds.
2.) Using a portable vacuum go out in the evening and suck them up. In the morning cucumber beetles can be found hiding inside gourd flowers.
3.) Spread onion skins on the soil aound the planted areas.
4.) One grower we know swears by a mixture of hot chillies, garlic and water. Spray both the top and the bottom of leaves.
6.) Use sticky traps...the only problem with these is that it may capture good insects, moths and butterflies.

These are really not worms but caterpillars; destructive moth larvae that hide in the soil during the day. They emerge at night to feed on new seedlings. Insecticides will work when cutworms are very young but a better way to deal with them is do some shallow digging and once found, destroy them.
(Only do this if you find your seedlings cut off at their bases.)
Bacterial Wilt
Bacterially-infected cucumber beetles will chew into a gourd vine and in less than a week dull green patches will appear on the leaves. The leaves will begin to wilt and the first response is that the plant requires water. But the water conducting tissue of the plant have been damaged and even freshly watered vines will not recover. (This is another reason why it is important to control the cucumber beetles.)

 Out of the Mailbag 
Last year I grew gourds but didn't end up with very many. I didn't pay much attention to them and they took over my garden. I thought I would have had lots. What can I do this year to change it?
Rayleen McQuire - Ontario
 Hi Rayleen,
A common reason that people end up with few gourds is a lack of pollination and no pruning or extreme pruning.
We will be talking about pruning in detail next month but in the meantime just make sure that you get out there and pollinate every night.
Read 'The Art of Growing Gourds" every month (it will let you know what to do and when to do it). Write if you have further questions.
Thanks and good luck, 
 Carolyn and Linda 
Hi Ladies!
As agreed here are some pictures - photos of my first attempt on decorating a gourd-marrow.
Thanks again for the extra one yesterday!
Hope the Ottawa Originals Spring Craft Show turned out well for you.
Till next time...
Manon (Picotine LaBidouilleuse)
PS To see what I do click here:

  Gourd Sighting 

The other night I happened to catch an old episode (1972 - 1978) of the Bob Newhart Show. The series was about the misadventures of a psychologist along with his wife Emily, his patients and  colleagues.

The gourd sighting was when Bob's neighbour Howard Borden cried out "Bob are you out of your gourd!"

To learn more about Bob Newhart click here:

Published by:
Pam Grossi
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7

Northern Dipper
PO Box 1145
5376 County Rd 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