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                  Fairies by Nancy Overmyer

In This Issue:  Living in a magical place called Gooseberry Lane is inspiration enough for NE Kansas artist Nancy Overmyer. Sitting in her studio, with cat Fiona at her elbow, gourds are transformed into golden fish, kansas wheatfields and quaint little villages. The birds, the wind and the change of the seasons influence her art; nature is always close to Nancy's heart.

Before gourds, Nancy was a salt dough artist and many of the skills learned have been incorporated into her gourd art. Nancy's award-winning gourds are one of a kind designs and are fresh and eye-catching. Her latest work include her charming gourd fairies, perhaps inspired by the fairies peeking out from behind the woodland ferns at Gooseberry Lane. Please welcome Nancy Overmyer to the July pages
of Gourd Fever.

Canadians (and maybe Americans too) are weather obsessed and this year there has been lots to talk about. 

Destructive tornadoes have swept across the landscape in the US midwest. In North Dakota and throughout the Canadian prairie provinces severe flooding has created havoc. Overall not a good situation for the farmers or the gourd growers, but as you know, both groups will persevere with hope. 

In The Art of Growing Gourds the 3 P's will be discussed. This is pruning, powdery mildew and pollination. Powdery mildew is caused by air born spores and in areas where there is lots of moisture in the air the problem can be worse.  Read on to learn some solutions to this nasty problem.

The mailbag has some great letters this month and of course no newsletter would be complete without a gourd sighting. But before we get to that please welcome Nancy Overmyer, owner of Gooseberry Lane Gourds.

                     Nancy Overmyer
        Gooseberry Lane Gourds

Eleven years ago, after the last child flew from the nest, Nancy Overmyer felt the need for change. She packed up her urban lifestyle and moved back to the family farm, a country home set deep in the woods. Within days she knew she had made the right move. Looking out her window she was surrounded by the pace of nature: wildlife, trees and was tranquil and lovely.

At the same time Nancy felt a bit restless. A naturally creative woman she felt the need to express herself but did not know what she wanted to do. Now it
should be mentioned that Nancy has a great day job working at Topeka's Public Library and one day she decided to walk over to the art section (her favorite section in the entire library)  to peruse the books on art and crafting.

Here she came across some books on gourd art and was instantly interested due to their connection to nature. She knew her sister had just finished drying a crop of gourds. A quick phone call later and there were gourds on their way. With an armful of books and a zest to get going, it wasn't long before Nancy joined the leagues of the addicted. 

                           Hidden Village

Nancy comes from a very creative family. Her father was an inventor and was always busy designing things to make life on the farm easier. Her mother was into fibre arts; quilting, crochet and sewing. Consequently Nancy can't remember a time when she didn't draw or create something from nothing.

Nancy has a degree in Interior Design from the Kansas State University and most of the courses  were art courses. Apart from this she is entirely self-taught in gourd art and laughing says has the scars to prove it! She belongs to the American Gourd Society and upon retirement may consider beginning a Gourd Patch in NE KS as it does not have a gourd society. 

Before gourds, Nancy was a salt dough artist. She has had several books published including Funtastic Clay Critters which is still in print. One day there may just be books on gourd art from Nancy Overmyer.

Nancy started out with gourds in a simple enough manner with leather dyes and a roll of tape. She quickly realized that she needed a wood burning tool which, to her, felt like a drawing tool. She tried weaving raffia fibres into the rims but it wasn't for her. 

A couple of years ago she started to add metal leaf and wire embellishments to her designs and it is now a favorite thing to do. The metal leaf makes the images pop and adds a very rich touch to the finished art.

Another thing Nancy finds very rewarding is using up all the parts left over from a gourd project. Shards become brooches and pendants and tops become fairy skirts. Nancy has started to incorporate pottery shards and stone and shell fragments into her art as well.

                            Rhyme Pins

Now that Nancy has discovered the gourd jewelry market she plans to continue in that vein once she retires in a few years. She is building contacts and resources and hopes to have a nice little business in the near future. Another goal is to have a couple of books published. She has three ideas brewing in her mind and in sketch books just waiting to hit paper.

Nancy has two grown daughters and four grandkids. She states that being a grandma is the best job in the world. She has a wonderful boyfriend who supports her in all of her gourd endeavors and all she has to do is go to a few classic car shows in return!

Nancy has been at the Topeka and Shawnee Co Public Library for 15 years. There she has had several jobs; children's librarian where she did everything from story time to summer craft programs; computer trainer-where she taught adults how to use the computer for the first time and her final job; program supervisor-where she helps organize all the programs at the library. Smiling she says,"Sometimes I fondly call it 'herding cats." She does love her job.

Nancy has written a few fiction children's stories and hopes to be published someday. She has had several craft books published with Hot Off the Press, Canby, Oregon. This stemmed from her days as a dough artist. One book is still in print and is geared to kids and using clay. We do suspect, and look forward to the time when Nancy does publish a gourd book. If it is anything like her beautiful gourd art we will all have something to look forward to.

Thank you Nancy. Your work is lovely and your fairies and chickens are charming. Once you retire the world will be your oyster; time to do all the things you've dreamed about and never had time for. It will be great! Carolyn and Linda
To learn more about Nancy Overmyer click here:

Nancy will also have her art exhibited at the following galleries and venues:
-The Topeka Art Guild
-The Topeka & Shawnie County Public Library:
-The Kansas History Museum:

To get caught up read Nancy's blog at:

     The Art of Growing Gourds  
The Three P's: Pruning, Powdery Mildew         
and Pollination 
   Blossoms only bloom for one night. If these were pollinated there will be a couple of nice gourds. If not the little pepos will turn brown and fall off.

Following is a letter from last year that is a good introduction into one of this month's subjects: pruning.
Hi Northern Dipper,
We got a good start with our seedlings and since planting they have grown like a brush fire. Some are planted on the ground and some on an 8 foot trellis. Every night lots of flowers are coming but they seem to be consistantly male. How can we encourage the females blossoms to come out?
      John and Edna Greene, Bracebridge, Ontario

Hi John and Edna, 
Pruning is important for two reasons:
1.) It will increase your female flower production.
2.) A gourd vine needs to be controlled. If left unattended the vines can grow up to 100 feet. 
To understand pruning you must understand the gourd plant. It is monoecious meaning that it produces both male and female flowers. Male flowers grow on the main or center vine /stem and the female grow on the lateral and sublateral vines, or put more simply, the side vines. It is the females that produce the fruit so you want long healthy side vines.

Let the main vine grow to about 8 - 10 feet and then cut the end off. Starting at ground level follow it up with your hands. At the required length cut with an Exacto knife. This will help produce more female flowers as the strength of the plant will be going into the laterals and blossoms and not the main stem.
Good luck, let us know how it works out for you.

                         Powdery Mildew

Give your gourd plants a long deep watering at least once a week. Use a soaker hose as gourd leaves do not like to be wet.

Keep pollinating on a nightly basis using a cheap paint brush...your efforts will pay off at harvest time.

Out of the Mailbag
Dear Northern Dipper,
I live on Vancouver Island and this year we have had a cool spring. It has affected everything in the garden. For example the lilacs were at least a month late and the winter pansies were still glorious in June. I think I was a couple of weeks late starting my gourd seeds and this year it took longer for the seeds to germinate.
I have planted the seedlings in various spots including the greenhouse, in pots on the deck, and a couple out in the garden. The gourds in the greenhouse will do the best I would imagine due to the concentrated heat it gets on sunny days. But as you can see it is now June and the seedlings are just getting their first leaves.
My question: Do you think there will be enough time to get gourds?
                      Gareth Pearson, Sannich, BC
   Ideal growing conditions will produce many July gourds. 
Hi Gareth,
Good question. It is true - your seedlings are small for this time of year but I would not give up just yet. I took the opportunity to look at the long term weather in your area and it looks optimistic.
July, August and September are suppose to be warm (warm for west coast standards) so we will be crossing our fingers that your seedlings will have a few growth spurts and catch up. Concentrate on the ones in the greenhouse.
Keep in touch and let us know their progress. Good luck - here's hoping for some hot weather!
                                                 Carolyn and Linda
Just a short email to let you know how much we enjoy your monthly newsletter. We love the articles and your selection of gourd artists is astounding. I have only been playing with gourds for about a year and my work is still rough but I must admit that I dream of being one of your featured artists one day. Anyway thank you very much; I do appreciate it.
                               Celeste Bonner, Miami, Florida
Dear Celeste,
Thank you for your letter. You may want to keep in mind that we try to feature artists from all different backgrounds, with different skill levels and experience. So anytime you feel ready to be featured just drop us line. We would love to hear from you.
                                               All the best, Carolyn

The lavender was beautiful this year - wonderful for drawers, drinks and jams. For recipes click here:
Looking Ahead: August 2011
We are honoured to have with us artist and craftsman Michael Harburg. Michael lives on the Kona coast in Hawaii and one day he noticed a small article in the local paper about gourds. It talked about an old method of decorating called the Ni'ihau method. Upon investigation, Michael found that people knew about this technique but nobody knew how to do it.
Intriqued Michael began to research it, and with the gourds that were growing beside his business, started to experiment. At first it began by just trying to figure out the process but soon he was creating sophisticated designs, many inspired by the flora and fauna in his environment. Join us next month to learn more about Michael Harburg, his art and his passions. 

Many garden flowers can be used in cooking such as the licorice tasting anise hyssop pictured above. Check out this website and then take a walk in your garden for edible flowers.

Before we close here is a quick little reminder about the GAGS get-togethers at Northern Dipper Farm every second Saturday of each month from 11:00 am to whenever. Spend some time with other gourd artists in a fun, relaxed, stress free gathering place. It is a time to share ideas, knowledge, techniques, tools and more. There is usually a theme of sorts but if you feel like doing your own thing among great company, it's not a problem. For more information call Carolyn at 705/435-3307.

Well here we are; another month come and gone and now we are into July. Why does it feel like this summer is flying by! Enjoy the longer days and remember - summer is all about having fun! 

                              Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond

© Northern Dipper 2011 All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

PS We would like to hear from you. Send comments, ideas or stories to


Volume 7, Number  76 


In this issue:
Nancy Overmyer -Tranquil Pleasures Down Gooseberry Lane                              
The Bulletin Board - News From Northern Dipper
The Art of Growing Gourds
Out of the Mailbag, Gourd Sightings & Trivia

The Bulletin Board  

 Summer Shows!

 Huronia Festival of  Arts and Crafts
    July 30 - Aug 1, 2011

   Over 100,000 attend this exciting summer craft show in Barrie, Ontario. Great vendors; a craft show with lots to see and do!

 For more information click here:

The Gourd Sale Continues!
20% off all gourds excluding minis. Thousands to choose from. Applies to both farm and Internet orders.
 To learn more click here:

    Nancy Overmyer

"I live at Gooseberry Lane with my two cats, Fiona and Simmy. My constant companion Fiona spends much of her time in my studio where she will generously leave a few inches of space to work as she naps! When I retire I hope to get a nice little dog and a few chickens too."


" I grew up in NE Kansas and still live here. You may say that Kansas is in my blood. Bearing this in mind I was happy when asked to design some KS themed gourds for the History Museum. Pictured above is a gourd titled Golden Wheat."

   Abstract Leaves

"Dyan Mai Peterson is someone I admire. I love her style and her book. When I feel stagnate I just get out her well-read book and read it again. Before long I am inspired all over again. I just wish she would write another one!"
Advice To New Artists
"Experiment! Start out simple and try lots of techniques. Many of them do not take much money. You can invest in the expensive stuff once you know what direction you want to go"

"Check out books on gourd art. Talk to other gourd artists, most love to talk about our stuff. Google gourd art! You'll be amazed."

"Get a good dust mask and use it."

   Close-up of Abstract Leaves

This is one of Nancy's favorite gourds and is the only gourd you will find in her house. Her other favorite is Hidden Village which has found a permanent home in her office.

Every year her favorites change. Often these pieces end up in the homes of her daughters and her friends.

"My gourd fairies are made from the top of bottle gourds. I put in hard work of making a lovely vase and then reward myself by turning the leftover top into something fun such as a gourd fairy skirt!"

"I bring out my dough sculpting talents to create their funny little clay faces. Acorns found in the woods become hats."

"Three of my fairies will be in the August issue of Art Doll Quarterly. Many of these little fairies have made their way into people's hearts and homes. For some reason they just make you want to smile."

"Nature is my biggest inspiration and I see design elements all the time that often end up on my gourds. I have sketch books all over the place with ideas and draw all my own original designs. Each one is unique by the time it makes it to the gourds."

 The Art of Growing Gourds

  Flowers In July

    Tying up vines 
Powdery Mildew
This is a fungus that may show up in late July / August. It is caused by an airborne spore that is carried by the wind. Over-crowded plants and cool evenings can make the problem worst.
Mildew starts off with a grayish-white spot on the leaves. It will gradually spread covering the entire plant including the stem. The leaves eventually die.
Remove the infected leaves.
Mix two teaspoons of baking soda and two teaspoons of lightweight horticultural oil or dish soap with one gallon of water. Spray both the tops and bottoms of leaves thoroughly.
Visit your local nursery and inquire about products they have for powdery mildew. 

  Out of the Mailbag

This seedling is growing in a Vancouver Island greenhouse.

In addition to gourd seedings there are also heirloom tomatoes, basil and cucumbers growing in Gareth's greenhouse.

Some seedlings were planted in large pots and put in a sunny spot on the deck and a couple were planted out in the garden.

In a good year with ideal growing conditions this is how large the gourd vines should be at the beginning of July.

Gourd Sighting

 In Law & Order SVU a cop was describing a potential witness.He said "Don't know what kind of witness he'll be. His eyes were red and bloodshot...he looked stoned out of his gourd." To learn more about Law & Order SUV click here:

 Update - The Eaglets Are About To Fly!
A few months ago we put in a webcam link of some eagles nesting. The babies have grown rapidly and now they are almost due to fly from the nest.
Join the Hancock Wildlife Foundation for FledgeFest on July 7, 2011. If you live in the area you can sign up and physically attend. If not you can see it through the camera lens.
To learn more click here:

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

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