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Peter has been looking at all the dried gourds that will have to be moved into the barn for the winter. He has said that we need to have a sale to lessen his workload.  So here it is –

20% SALE on all dried gourds

for the month of October. 


 Apples, Bushels, Dippers, Cannonball, Tobacco Box, Small Canteen, Kettles & Minis. Sold out of Chinese Bottles. Sale in Effect Oct 1 – 31. Must be shipped in the month of October. To shop for gourds, click here

We’ll subtract your discount from the regular price.

Pumpkin Field

Halloween - A chance for some fun with kids dressing up and rushing from house to house collecting treats. To others Halloween is a 40 Billion-Dollar Sugar Fest and yet to others they would rather shut off their lights and wait until Nov 1. Where did Halloween begin? In this month's newsletter we will explore the origins of Halloween from the Pagans to present day. We will also have a Halloween Tutorial by Artist Patti Palmer as well as some very interesting facts on that Fall fruit you all know so well – the pumpkin!




“Cornucopia” by Award Winner Cath Devine.

To view more click here


 In the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), the Celtic New Year. The Celts believed that space and time were transparent during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living. The symbols of Samhain includes grapes and vines, wine, garland, pine cones, Indian corn, dried leaves, gourds, wheat and gourd rattles as well as Horns of Plenty. For more details click here.




Celtic knots & bands are used in gourd art.  

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas and, eventually, Halloween. It was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes.


The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated in 998 when the Church established All Souls’ Day. On November 2,  early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes" which were pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the Donor's dead relatives. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven. For more details click here. 



To view full painting click here


The Day of the Dead is a celebration; which occurs in Mexico on Nov 1 & 2. It is a remembrance of those who have passed on. Many intriguing customs include lively reunions at family burial plots, special foods, offerings laid out on altars and religious rites that are likely to include noisy fireworks.


Even today in Mexico it is believed by some that the migrating Monarch butterflies are the Spirits of the Departed. Interesting enough the migrating Monarchs usually arrive in Mexico on Nov 2 and their striking colors are orange and black – the traditional colors of Halloween. To learn more about the Day of the Dead click here  To learn more about migrating Monarchs click here.




Loofah –

Yes it is a gourd, not a sea sponge!

Gourds In History

Here is an interesting website on how in the U.S. loofah were used as sponges before WW 2. Loofah were also used as filters in ship boilers as well as for insulation and to stuff pillows - imagine, all this from a gourd. To learn more about this  click here.


Loofah are easy to grow on a trellis. To clean soak in hot water and peel the skin away. Loofah are full of what seems like hundreds of black seeds so don’t clean them in your bathroom. To learn more about loofah click here.



Tutorial: Halloween Jack O’Lantern by Patti Palmer


Patti Palmer’s creativity is apparent in all that she does. Growing up in Europe and Canada she is a ham radio operator, a dog breeder who showed her prizewinning Samoyeds and dog musher who placed 1st and 2nd in dog races up in Northern BC and the Yukon.  Patti has also been involved in car racing and won “Novice of the Year” Award in 1978. In addition to all of this Patti just loves to construct buildings such as elaborate garden sheds & gazebos, not to mention the installation of new windows in the house! After the passing of her husband 6 years ago Patti picked up a paintbrush and started painting. Two years ago she started working with gourds and does painting and beautiful wood burnings. Following is a tutorial by Patti.


We took the idea for this tutorial from “Gourdeous Gourds” Vol 1 by Julie Grant & Cindy Pray for a couple of reasons. One is that the designs are great and they are simple. The second is that we will be able to demonstrate how to transfer patterns. Gourdgeous Gourds is published by OSC “Art Division" For more info on the Gourdgeous Gourds Series click here.



Patti’s Flowers are Beautiful on a Gourd


For the Halloween tutorial you will need:


1.)     Gourd of your choosing that will fit your pattern or idea.

2.)     Sealer – Clear or White

3.)     Tracing Paper & Pencil or Stylus

4.)     Carbon Graphite Paper

5.)     Wet Palette Tray (Optional)

6.)     Sea Sponge

7.)     Brushes - #5Round & Liner Brush

8.)     DecoArt Acrylic Paint or whatever brand you prefer to use. Colors: White, Cadmium Yellow, Pumpkin, Tangelo Orange, Primary Red, Black




Tools of the Trade


1.)     Select gourd, wash well and let dry.

2.)     Seal gourd with Gesso or a clear sealer. Apply in long, sweeping strokes; do 2 applications. A hair dryer can be used for fast drying.

3.)     Lay the tracing paper up against your pattern and trace. Don’t use super cheap tracing paper as it can leave a residue on your gourd.

 4.)     Using a wet palette pool out your 2 oranges. (A wet palette is a lidded container that has a thin sponge in the bottom. A special paper is put on top of the sponge and you can keep your wet paint in here. Closed, paint will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Great for those of us that who takes time to complete a painting.)

5.)     Wet sea sponge and squeeze out excess moisture. Dab in paint and dab onto gourd. Each color will have its own sponge - use the 2 oranges randomly. Continue until gourd is covered. Be creative and use 3 – 4 oranges if you like. It will give your gourd a more natural textured look. Let dry.

6.)     Lay the graphite paper against the gourd. Place the tracing paper on top and using a ballpoint pen or stylus trace your pattern onto the gourd.

7.)     Using a #5 round brush fill in the eyes with black. Once dry apply white along the side of the eye.

8.)     Paint in circle cheeks and nose with Primary Red. Once dry use a liner brush and add eyelashes. Outline around the nose. Add white highlights on the cheeks, nose and eyes using a liner brush. Add freckles if you like.

For the back design: Haunted house, Fence, Bats and Cats

1.)     Paint in all items in black. Add the line work for the windows, door, porch and smoke with black. Using a stylus add eyes to bat and cat with Cadmium Yellow.

Finish: Erase any graphite lines. Spray 1 or 2 thin coats of Krylon Gloss or Semi Gloss spray. Tie a ribbon or some raffia around the stem. If you do not have a stem use hot melt.


You can use these techniques with any pattern. If you can draw create your own! And please, always wear safety glasses and a good respirator when cleaning, sanding, opening or drilling.


Gourd Growing In October


3 Gourds – From L – R – 1.) A healthy gourd, all green 2.) A little brown on top, could be drying but if it is soft & wrinkled it is rotten 3.) The top has fallen away as it was rotten. Don’t try to save these gourds (2&3) as they will not survive.

In October there is literally nothing to do in the gourd field other than wait for the first hard killing frost. In the South it is a matter of waiting until the stems die off and turn brown. After the first hard frost the gourds can be cut from the vine. Always try to leave a couple of inches of stem attached. This will prevent any bacteria getting into the gourd plus a bit of a stem to hold on to for when you are crafting.
Once harvested put your gourds in a place where they receive good air circulation. Keep them outside – the snow, rain and frost will not hurt them. You can turn them during the winter to ensure even drying but in truth we did this for the first few years we were growing – the past couple of years we got lazy and didn’t turn them. It didn’t make one bit of difference.

Some vines are already dying off but take note of the stems…they are still green. 


Always keep your gourd patch clean from debris.


At Northern Dipper…

October is a busy month at Northern Dipper. There is the usual business of getting ready for winter and our harvesting crew will be here at the end of Oct. It’s hard work lifting thousands of pounds of green gourd up off the ground but it is a party too with lots of food and banter! The dried gourds from the previous year will be moved into the barn and the lights in the studio will be turned on to start getting ready for the Spring Garden Shows.

To see photos of growing gourdsclick here.


Did you know that:

Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.


The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2003 and weighed 418 pounds.


The largest World Record pumpkin ever grown was 1,446 pounds. It was grown by Al Eaton from Port Elgin Ont. For more on the facts and history of pumpkins click here or click here.



Autumn Cabbage Field with the Fog Just Lifting 


The next issue we are proud to feature Kelly Jonathan, a painter, stone carver and gourd artist whose Aboriginal culture is reflected in the art he creates. We will also have an interesting and informative article on wood burners and tips, a report on Gilder’s Paste and how to use it as well as an introduction on the incredible beaded gourds done by the Huichol Indians of Mexico. Also a Gourd Grow Report, a tutorial on Green Peeling and more! Have a safe and fun Halloween. See you then…Pam Grossi & Peter Bell


Back issues of our newsletter Gourd Fever are on our Website. (Sorry no photos) If you have missed any issues there are some interesting tutorials and grow information you may want to check out.


PS If you have any stories or ideas that you would like to contribute to this newsletter please send to


Volume 1, Number 8 


In this issue



The History of Halloween


Gourds In U.S. History


Tutorial: Halloween Jack O’Lantern by Patti Palmer


Gourd Growing In October


Pumpkins – Did You Know?


Gourd Sightings & Trivia

Jack O Lantern "Front" by Joan Scott

Jack O Lantern “Back” by Joan Scott

The following 3 photos were taken at the Ohio Gourd Festival about 6 years ago. I do not know who did this art. If by chance it is you send your name and I will rerun the photos with full credit. Thank you. For info on the Ohio Gourd Fest click here.


I seem to remember that this very unique sculpture, made primarily from natural materials, was about 7 ft tall.


Close-up of the head.

A perfect  Halloween  gift for your favorite ghoul!


 Witch by Gorden Scott


Patti & Dogs in Front of the Guesthouse She Built



Tracing Pattern from Book


Basecoat – It seals the gourd which will prevent any chipping down the road.

Paint on Wet Palette

Dab On with Damp Sea Sponge

Painting In Nose & Cheeks and Applying the White at the Sides of the Eyes

Outlining Nose and Painting in Eyelashes and Freckles

Patti’s Leather Saddle. She made this using her Toy Poodle as a model for measurements.



Wood-burned Sammies 



Look Out For Wasp Nests. We found this beauty in our field filled with hundreds of wasps.

Inside of a Green Gourd

Gourd sightings and trivia

Sitting in a waiting room I happened to flip through an old copy (July 2004) of Chatalaine magazine. There was an unsettling article titled  “The Untouchables” about the women in India who are shunned in society. In their very humble homes were gourds hanging from the wall. The gourds are used for storing food and water. To view Chatalaine Magazine click here.

Waterford, located in Southern Ontario, is famous for its Annual Pumpkin Fest. To check out the details click here.


Annie is getting ready for the Oct 20% Off Sale at Northern Dipper!

Published by Northern Dipper Enterprises
Northern Dipper Farm
1666 Villa Nova Road
RR1 Wilsonville, Ontario
N0E 1Z0 Canada
(519) 443-5638