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    artists, growtips, info & more

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         Star and Coils by Raven Wyntre-Clarkson


In This Issue: During the summer the Moss Street Market in Victoria, BC is a destination point for hundreds of people. Organic vegetables, flowers, bread and botanicals are offered as well as art and craft items. It is in this category we find this month's featured artist, Raven Wyntre-Clarkson. 

In addition to creating and selling gorgeous gourd art at the Market, Raven acts as a "gourd ambassador". Her easy, down to earth manner makes people feel at ease and her interests, including mthological history, ensures that all conversations are both lively and memorable. Please welcome Raven Wyntre-Clarkson to the April pages of Gourd Fever.

 Raven's black and white pieces were designed for a special  gallery showing. The theme: Black and White.
If you are an artist that uses antler in your art this month's article about the legalities of antler use in art will interest you. Antler is used to embellish gourd vessels and masks but have you ever asked yourself if you are breaking the law? This article is a bit of an eye-opener, well worth the read.
Also some great mail, gourd sightings, music pics and "Other Stuff" too.  

  Raven Wyntre-Clarkson

Raven was born in Vancouver, B.C. and was given the name Rae Louise Harbidge. (She legally changed it 18 years ago to Raven) Raven's father was in the Armed Forces and like many military families, her life was full of moves. In the early 60's the family moved to Comox B.C. where her father built a house. But before long, another transfer, and for the next five years, France was their home. The last move was to Camp Borden, Ontario. After a year her father left the Forces and the family moved back to Comox.

In 1973 Raven moved to Victoria where she attended the Child and Youth Care program at the University of Victoria. In 1978 Edmonton became home and although she had a good job in her field she missed Victoria. She packed up once again and moved back never to move again.

A few years later Raven was invited to attend a workshop put on by Sheila Jacobs and it was here that Raven was introduced to what she calls "the wonderful gourd." She loved their energy and still refers to them as a miracle of nature. The beautiful mottling speaks to her to the point where sometimes she cannot bear to work on a gourd because she fears that she will 'disrespect' the natural patterns.


Art has been a constant companion since Raven was a child. A high school art teacher was her mentor and through him, she learned to see things from all sides and with curiousity. Batiking, knitting, embroidery, calligraphy, pottery and poetry have all been explored. Courses include drafting (which she loved) and calligraphy. Restaurant menus and hotel lobby signs soon showed off her skill in calligraphy, a real feather in the cap of a young woman.

Detail orientated, lace patterns, geometrics and celtic designs often show up in her art. Many of her carvings are the result of her active imagination but she will sometimes use themes when preparing for art shows. For example she just finished four works for a Black and White themed show and they are dramatic pieces. 

Constantly pushing herself to develop new techniques while incorporating her own style, Raven pours through gourd books and surfs the Net for tutorials. In 2009 she joined the Vic West Art Quest, a group of artists that presents many forms of art through studio tours and other community events. And even though her medium is not as easy to hang on a wall, she was welcomed as a contributing artist.

When talking about art in general terms Raven brings up a program she saw on television about art and society. The main message was that art represents the time in which it was created. For instance 60's art is much different than 90's art...it is almost a time capsule of what was going on at the time.

In Raven's case she does not see her art as a statement of her view of the world.  She smiles and explains that it is all quite simple. She has days where she feels that her creativie energy has been bottled up and now she is overjoyed that she has found an outlet for it. Lucky for us it was gourds.

In addition to her own designs, Raven also does custom orders. She spends time with the client and through discussion will try to grasp the essense of what the person is looking for. She will then lightly sketch the wanted design on the gourd and discuss colour, carving and coiling needs. At this point the gourd and her instinct will take over and people are always thrilled with the finished product.

On a personal note Raven's life is full. She works full-time and does not see herself retiring for several more years. She and her husband of 14 years raised three children; a son from her previous relationship and two step-daughters from her husband's previous marriage. The kids have left home now and it didn't take Raven long to fill up the spare time.

Last year Raven made a promise to herself.  For some time she had wanted to become more involved in her Vic West community. She wanted to get to know the people in her community and now one year later she is happy to report that she is involved in community dinner planning. She cooks with her neighbours in a community kitchen and is, as stated earlier, participating in the seasonal community events as a member of the Vic West Art Quest.

Reading, music of all sorts and gardening are part of Raven's lifestyle as is her daily coffee and crossword puzzle.

In the summer Raven can be found at the Saturday Moss Street Market in Victoria. Her work is also sold at the Coast Collective at Havenwood on the Esquimalt Lagoon and at other various art events. These are listed on Raven's website at:

The Moss Sreet Market:  

The Coast Collective:

Raven it was a pleasure meeting you. Your art is beautiful.  Much of your art has that West Coast flavour that we love so much and the black and white pieces are stunning. Thank you for being our featured artist this month. Carolyn and Linda

The Legalities Of Using Antler In Art Work by Carolyn Cooper 

You might be surprised at some legalities when working with antler. Recently I wanted to incorporate an antler on one of my gourd bowls and decided to do some research in case I was asked any questions about the antler at the shows.

As I hadn't given it much thought other than the antler came from a deer, I was pleased when I discovered that it was a "shed" or "Cast" antler and not a harvested one. A naturally shed antler will be bumpy and nubby at the base. A harvested antler will have a smooth cut where it was cut from the deer.

Now that you know the difference between a shed and a harvested antler, what are the laws? By contacting the Fish and Wild Life Division from the province or state you are in, you can get some pretty clear guidelines.

In Ontario here are a few of the laws I did find. This is just a brief outline and I encourage everyone to be responsible and do their own research when using any part of wildlife.

1.) A person can buy one set of cast antlers per year for his or her personal use without a license.

2.) You are allowed to sell only one set of shed antlers per year unless you have an antler dealer's license.

3.) An intact skull with antlers (even if it is found dead) is not consided as a shed and is illegal to sell. In most cases the sale of wildlife, including parts, is illegal in Ontario.

4.) Once a cast antler has been turned into a form of art then it can legally be bought and sold. The definition of art is not in black and white. Meaning that if you tie a ribbon around an antler, do not think that you can call it art.

Remember the regulations are placed for a reason. There are some pretty hefty fines for illegal trafficking of antlers and ignorance to the laws is not a defense.

Once again, I want to reinforce that these are regulations for Ontario and before you start using any part of wildlife; check what the laws are in your area.

Next month we are going to check out the legalities of feathers ... yes that's right, feathers!

It's Almost Seed Time

The seed companies are beginning to get busy. People are pouring over their catalogues and making their selections based on garden design, likes and dislikes, climate and space.

This is true when selecting your gourd seeds too. Do you have a hot climate with a long growing season? Do you have the room? (Gourds can always be grown up) What are your plans with the gourds? Are you going to build drums or do you need gourds for ornaments? These are things to think about.

Northern Dipper is a reliable source for gourd seeds. Fourteen varieties, all different shapes and sizes, they will definitely bring interest and excitement to your garden.

For the growers (especially beginners) we will be having a monthly article on what to do and when. This is very useful and covers everything from germination to pollination through to harvest. 

As stated earlier we will not have seeds at the One Of A Kind Show but they are available on our website. Here is the link:

Out Of The Mailbag

Hugh Dillon, Carolyn and Enrico Colantoni at the Tema Conter Memorial Trust Gala

Hi there,
As many of you know Linda is a paramedic and has been for many years. The other night we attended a work gala for the Tema Conter Memorial Trust. Tema Conter was a young 25 year old woman who was murdered in 1988.  

Vince Savoia was a young paramedic who was first on the scene. This crime haunted Vince and after many years, Vince set up this trust in the name of Tema.

The Trust addresses PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a disorder that many emergency and military personnel deal with. In 1988 people didn't talk about this but today, thanks to organizations like The Tema Conter Memorial Trust, research, public education, counselling and support are now available.

In the photo above are two stars from the TV show Flashpoint. It is set in Toronto and is about a special tactical team who is called in to deal with many different situations. It is an exciting show with a good story line and it does touch on the stresses that they go through when on the job. 

In the photo is Enrico Colantoni who plays Sgt Greg Parker on Flashpoint. In real life he is the National Spokesman for the Trust. On the left is Hugh Dillon, who plays Ed Lane. I am of course in the middle.

Here is the link to the Tema Conter Memorial Fund. It tells the story from the beginning....
Dear Carolyn and Linda,
First of all, I want to thank you for doing such a great job with Gourd Fever. Such a fun newsletter for the "gourd heads."
I wanted to share my work with you and the gourd frenzy I was on preparing for my first craft show this year. I was excited to get the word out about my gourds in my local community and began working furiously for a month to have enough Christmas inspired gourds to show and sell.
Crafting Christmas gourds holds a special place for me. It started when I was 10. I remember helping my mom decorate gourds for the Christmas tree. As you can see my faith plays a big part in the kinds of gourds I create.
In 2001 I began selling my art and as I created and experimented it hit me. It was impossible for me to learn every technique. The gourd canvas has endless possibilities; well, as endless as a person's imagination.
This fact caught my full attention and I flew with it. I don't think I will ever stop gourding. I think I caught gourd fever!
Please see the gallery of photos of my Christmas gourds. Enjoy and feel free to use them in your next newsletter.
                                                   Bernadette Fox
Thank you Bernadette for your email and link. Your work is lovely and we believe your art will become true keepsakes at Christmas time.
                                             Carolyn and Linda
Here is the link to see more of Bernadette's art....

Looking Ahead: April 2012
                Snowdrops in February
We are looking forward to having with us, as featured artist, Alberta carver Jorden Straker. Jorden has had a 20 year relationship with wood and his award-winning carvings are so textured and detailed, they look like sculpted leather. He is a cowboy at heart with a keen sense of humour...a man who definitely
enjoys life.
A few months ago Jorden discovered gourds. As with the wood, his carving knife transformed the gourds into highly detailed magical works of art. Jorden Straker will inspire you and we are thrilled that he will be with us next month.
Spring is right around the corner and what could be more fitting than to have a tutorial on how to make a gourd basket. This one is especially nice with a reed covered handle and lots of room...a perfect basket to collect daffodils and tulips in. It is easy to do and is a good project to do with the kids on the weekend.
We'll be diving deep in the mail bag and also have our usual trivia. Drop by if you make it to the One Of A Kind Spring Show but if not, stay well - see you next month.                                  
                           Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
 PS If you have any comments, photos or stories feel free to send them along to:  info@northerndipper.com


Volume 8, Number 84


Email: info@northerndipper.com

In this issue:
Raven Wyntre-Clarkson: Fine Art With A West Coast Flavor

The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper 

The Legalities of Using Antler In Art
by Carolyn Cooper

Out of the Mailbag, Gourd Sightings and "Other Stuff" 

  The Bulletin Board

We would like to take this 
opportunity to thank all of our
loyal customers and friends
who supported us for so many years at the Canada Blooms Spring Show.

After much thought we have decided to make a change and
are very excited to be
exhibiting at the One Of A
Kind Spring Show. 

Seeds will not be sold at this show. They will be available online at: 

We hope to see you there...
here are the details -

One Of A Kind Spring Show
(Booth Q - 05)
: March 28 - April 1, 2012

: Direct Energy Centre
Exhibition Place, Toronto

For more information click here:

  Raven Wyntre-Clarkson
"Art has always played a part in my life in one form or another. It has been my saving grace and a wonderful outlet for stress. It is meditation; a time for me to
 just be."

"Mythological history intrigues
me. Gourds are mythological
 in a sense and it fascinates
me to think that every culture
has probably used the gourd in some form or another. There is
 a long history of usage." 

"Just think, the gourd was
possibly the first bowl, the
 first vessel or musical instrument. That is quite an amazing thought."

"When I start a design I
don't have a complete picture
 in my mind. I work with
 the gourd and the design
develops accordingly. It must
be balanced and must
compliment the natural
shape of the gourd."

"The design must
look finished or completed;
neat and tidy but
 not busy. Don't ask me how
 I know when the design is completed, I just go by
 my gut instinct."

"My need for detail plus my
need for perfectionism are the
two things that constantly challenge me. I struggle with the outcome of my work not being good enough for me."

"When I first started gourd art,
 I tried to not put too much
effort into it. I wanted my
work to look crafted, not refined...more like a folk craft.
I did not want to fail at
trying to create gourd art."

"But over the years my
 outlook has changed. I now
jump right into complex
patterns without thinking too much about the
consequences. Usually things unfold just as they should."

Advice To New Artists
"Let your instinct lead you. Do
not limit yourself...just do it.  As Susan Jeffers said, ' Feel the fear and do it anyways. ' Do not judge your capabilities or limit yourself. Everyone is creative; it is just what we think is art that limits us."

"Connect with other artists.
Take art courses and workshops. Attend art shows. Exhibit at shows or in studio tours. We are all human
beings and have insecurities when we start out."

"Quite honestly I have a love-hate relationship with gourds! I
love to work with them however
 I hate the process of completeing
the project. I am such a
 detailed perfectionist and
 I do not want my work to
 look amateurish. I take
 pride in what I do. So
now I try and do my art
 using the 70% rule."

"I am a member and board
member of the Canadian Gourd Society. In 2009 I participated
in the CGS in Ontario and was awarded two first place ribbons
and one third for my three
entries in the beginner level
of painting and carving. If I do compete again, the rules state
 that I will need to participate in
 the intermediate level. But
since I am not competitive, I
have not entered since!"
"I do a lot of education when interacting with the public. I also hear many stories about gourds and gourd art. For example this past summer I was told that the Rastarfarians in Jamacia are very particular about what they eat out of. The fellow said that a Rastarfarian will carry his own
gourd bowl and will not eat
out of anything else." 

  All About Antlers
White Tailed Deer
Antlers are bone and are
displayed primarily by the males
 of the species. Female antlers
 are found within caribou and reindeer herds although they are much smaller than the males.
When growing the antlers are covered with what is known as velvet. The purpose of velvet is to provide nutrients and air to the rapidly growing bone. Just before breeding season this velvet is shed, usually by rubbing against trees and saplings.
Velvety Antlers
Deer velvet has been scientifically supported and substantiated by
 the FDA because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Velvet improves the functioning of the immune system and will aid muscle recovery after exercise. 
Antlers are used as impressive signs of dominance and as weapons against other males during mating season.  If you
are a male, they help attract 
the ladies too.

 Dipper gourds must be trellised
to have staight handles. If you want curly handles grow them
on the ground.
Mini gourds are easy to grow
and dry quickly. They are lovely
 for wreaths and ornaments.

  Out Of The Mailbag
 Hi Carolyn and Linda,
 I just wanted to send you a
short email to thank you for
 the excellent workshop at
your farm. I must admit I was
a bit nervous as I had never
worked with gourds before but
your relaxed style of teaching inspired me.
 It was a great introduction
and now I am just itching to
get at the few gourds
I bought from you.
I also loved your shop and workshop. Beautiful light and lots of gourds and supplies - it's like being a kid in a candy shop.
I'll see you again in the spring.
I am hoping you will 
be having more workshops. I
shiver just thinking about it!
Susie McDonald - Toronto

  Gourd Sighting
Are you a Gleek? If so you
would have noticed the gourd shakers during a Spanish
 number on Glee.
Here is the song Love Shack sung by the Glee Club: 

  It's A Dogs Life
Mickey didn't have a great month. He ran into a branch and
gouged his side. He needed a cone as he wouldn't leave the nasty wound alone.
  A friend told us about this lifejacket type ring and it was far more comfortable for him and for us too. That plastic
cone hurts when it is shoved against the back of the legs. 
Being a young dog it didn't
take long to heal and Mickey is now back to his usual antics.

  Music Pic of the Month
 The musician: John Southworth
The song:
Life Is Unbelievable
To listen click here:  

To learn more about John Southworth click here:   http://barnyardrecords.com/bio%20john%20southworth.html

      "Other Stuff"
I like blogs and was recently 
sent a link to a really interesting one. It is "Love Your Home" and was set up by Antonella, one of 
our sharp eyed gourd sighters.
Antonella has many interests.
 In addition to travelling and
being involved in saving
heritage buildings, Antonella
has a real passion for
 decorating, renovations, home decor and interior design. 

This "Love Your Home" blog is informative and full of ideas
ranging from working with
small spaces to quilt care,  home projects that are economical and
recipes too!.

Don't waste a moment...check
 it out...it is good. 

  Published by:
Pam Grossi
Victoria, B.C. V8R 2Z7
       Northern Dipper
PO Box 1145
5376 County Rd 56 
Cookstown, Ontario
L0L 1L0, Canada
(705) 435-3307
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