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Serena Kovalosky's "Woodland Temple"
In This Issue: The mind of Serena Kovalosky is ablaze with creative ideas, interesting concepts and a thirst for new adventure. Through her art and writings Serena will take us into a world of self-exploration and discovery...a fascinating journey involving art and design, research and travel.
Her gourd art, organic in nature, is reminescent of cool walks in the deep woods which surround her home. Her writings, through her blog, will enlighten and entertain you. Please welcome Serena Kovalosky to the July pages of Gourd Fever.
Last month Jim Wilson came out to Northern Dipper along with his camera and now we are pleased to feature an impressive collection of photographs that reveals the raw beauty of the gourd. The shapes, light, shadows and textures are beautiful as is the composition. Thank you Jim for sending these in.
This is Min, Carolyn's cat.
Sometimes there is just no way of cooling off!
Out in the garden things are exploding, particularily if you live in a hot zone with even rainfall. The gourds are growing rapidly with an abundance of night blooming flowers. At this time of year pollination is a must to ensure a healthy crop of gourds. An eye will have to be kept open for cucumber beetles and powdery mildew; conditions that must be kept in control. Read on for tips on how to achieve this.
Also mail, trivia and lots of other good stuff so let's get started by introducing our featured artist Serena Kovalosky.
Throughout our life we have heard people say that it is important to follow your dreams. The reality is that in order to do this one must look deep inside themselves to take that step of giving up a secure paycheque and a predictible lifestyle. To face the unpredictable and take that leap into the unknown, requires both courage and faith.
Serena Kovalosky is one of those individuals who did just that. She traded an 18 year corporate lifestyle for an artists loft and a dream. The fact that she had no formal art training and knew nothing about the art world did not deter her. A journey of self-discovery, exploration and adventure awaited her and now, many years later, she can clearly state that she has no regrets.
At this time of transition Serena had the opportunity to view a friend's collection of lacquered gourds from Olina, Mexico. She had never seen gourd work before but recalls that there was something about them that totally resonated with her. Gourd crafting books began to fill her living room and the experimentation began.
The local Farmer's Market provided an assortment of ornamental gourds which were arranged around her city apartment to dry. (She laughs now about that...drying gourds in your living space is not a good idea!)
Next synchronicity stepped in and she was offered an artist's studio - rent free - to get her art career off to a good start. It was in Montreal's artist district, in a building with hundreds of professional artists who taught her everything from techniques to how to manage her art as a business.
In the beginning Serena use to take workshops but now if she wants to learn a new technique she will just ask a fellow artist. Her newest technique will be working with verdigris, using real oxidized copper. Her internet artist friends also provide her with a variety of great techniques to research.
To earn money Serena started doing craft shows with the smaller gourds and eventually worked her way up to the larger ones. She now creates large - size sculptural work with gourds that are over 3 feet high.
Being a sculptor, many mediums have been worked: plaster, wood, paper mache, clay, bronze, but Serena always found herself returning to gourds. Personal resonance to the materials is important, although there have been times during Serena's career where she wanted to be ANYTHING but a gourd artist. A more "serious" medium seemed fitting but the connection to gourds was just too strong. The light, woody energy felt good in her hands and it is an energy she knows how to work with.
She finally sat down and had the talk, "OK Serena, if you're going to be a gourd artist, then be the BEST gourd artist there is!" She made it her goal to bring her work to the level of fine art and to get her work into museums and fine art galleries. Here is the story of how her gourd art made it into a museum show: http://www.artfulvagabond.com/the-rewards-of-perseverance/://
Handbuilt clay and other materials
Indigenous and tribal art - particularily Native American, African and Inuit art - are Serena's inspiration. These artists create from the land, with a reverance for the spiritual aspects of form and design. She too is influenced by the forms and textures found in the natural world.
While in Montreal Serena found that her artwork was shifting towards more organic forms. She finally made the decision to move from her beautiful Montreal studio back to her childhood home at the foothills of New York's Adirondack Mountains. Her studio is now filled with seeds, pods, nests, bark and other curios and although she never copys nature, she surrounds herself with it. It enters her subconscious, and later emerges in her artwork.
As an artist Serena remains aware of the impact her, and other artist's work, has on the viewer. Artists have much more influence than they could ever imagine and Serena feels that artists need to think seriously about what they put out in the world.
She continues on by stating that it took her a long time but now feels very confident about her place in the world. She does not complain that people don't understand art - she takes the time to teach awareness so others can learn to enjoy their Artist Mind.
In addition to creating beautiful art, Serena has a 365-Day project which she began at the beginning of the year. It is on her blog titled The Artful Vagabond. Serena describes it as "a daily tribute to artists (from around the world), their creative process and the beauty of the Artist Mind. It's opening up all sorts of great conversations about artists and what we have to offer to our communities and society as a whole."
To follow this blog click here. (We subscribed to it and it is very well done. You will love it too.) http://www.artfulvagabond.com/p://
To check out Serena's website click here:http://kovalosky.com/p://Serena, you are a fascinating woman and it was lovely meeting you. Have fun in the Yukon...we'll look forward to reading about it on the Artful Vagabond. Carolyn and Linda
To some, a pile of moldy, dirty gourds is just that....a pile of moldy, dirty gourds. To Jim Wilson this is not the case. Through the lens of his camera he reveals the hidden beauty of this fruit and it is our pleasure to be able to share these photos with you.
The kettle gourd
Thank you Jim for sending in these photos. We really enjoyed them and hope to see you & your friends again soon. Carolyn
These are female flowers getting ready for 'their evening out.' Both the male and female gourd flowers live for only one night.
Being a commercial grower in Ontario presented both its joys and its challenges. July was always a month of joy even though it always involved lots of work. One of our chores was the nightly trip out to the gourd field, paint brushes in hand. The goal was to help Mother Nature along with the task of pollination.
Male flowers have pale inverted centers.
There are different schools of thought on whether this is really necessary. After all isn't that why there are insects and wind? Gourds originated as an equatorial crop where there are many night flying insects for pollination. In Canada and the northern US however we do not have that number of insects and with the short growing season we have, we weren't about to take any chances. Besides, we enjoyed it.
For first time growers you will soon learn that you have to look for the female flowers under the large gourd leaves. Some nights it will seem as though there are only males and and on the other rare night, only females. But normally you will find both so dab, dab, dab...male to female....each dab remember, will result in a gourd. (To save your back attach a small Dollar Store paintbrush to a long piece of dowel or wood and proceed.)
The spotted and striped cucumber beetle attack cucumbers, squash, melons and gourds. The ultimate damage is that they spread bacterial wilt to the plant. The wilt will show up on one leaf and quickly spread. It will end up killing the plant.
In the interm, before the bacterial wilt is spread, the adults lay their eggs in the soil. The larvae, born with ferocious appetites, will begin feeding on the roots. As they grow they move up the plant and feed on the foliage and the flowers. They will start eating into the gourds as well.
There are various methods of controlling
cucumber beetles. Some people grow radishes in their gourd gardens and let them go to seed. Others grow lots of marigolds. As commercial growers we used Sevin, a pesticide. We were always torn as we always used organic methods with everything else we grew, which included apples, berries, herbs, vegetables, flowers and rhubarb.
But the truth of the matter was that the cucumber beetles affected our gourd yield which affected our bank accounts and as a commercial grower, we could not allow that to happen.
Powdery mildew is a grayish-white dust-like fungus which lives on the outer surface of the leaves. It sends out tiny roots which feed on the plant's cells eventually killing it. Normally starting on the lower leaves powdery mildew quickly travels and will soon cover the entire plant.
It is impossible to prevent powdery mildew as it is caused by cloudy, humid weather but there are steps you can take to fight back. Make sure that your plants are not over-crowded. Do not water using a sprinkler, use a drip system instead. (You are trying to lesson the humidity around the plant.) Keep your garden clean and your plants strong. One method is to spray them with liquid seaweed. It will help with the plant's general health which will help the plant resist the mildew.
If you have powdery mildew baking soda is recommended for control. (2 grams of baking soda per litre of water plus a dash of liquid soap.) I have also read that urine works (haven't tried it myself) The mix is 1 part urine to 4 parts water. Another method in combating powdery mildew is skim milk, mixed 1 part milk to 9 parts water.
Last but not least go to your local garden shop. They will have things there, both organic and non-organic, that will help control both cucumber beetles and powdery mildew.
Pollinating, pest control, watering and more pollinating. Keep a sharp eye open for powdery mildew. Have fun and keep in mind that the reward will be in the fall when you will be harvesting a bumper crop of gourds. PS Last month we got the flower descriptions mixed up. Thanks to our eagle-eyed readers they let us know lickity-split. Bravo!
Out of the Mailbag
I just spotted your swallow gourd house in today's newsletter. (June Issue) Do you have any instructions on size and how to? I would love to make a few with challenged gourds that have no other purpose.
Thank you for your email. We love the swallows and the swallows love gourds so it is a win-win situation here at Northern Dipper! Our tree swallows, pictured above, is a beautiful, graceful bird.
Just for information's sake, the males are a deep iridescent blue with a creamy coloured chest and the females, a dull gray colour above and a pale gray underneath. These birds are about 5" long.
We have never had a problem attracting swallows. They just show up and are attracted to the gourds we hang in an open area. This year we hung the gourd swallow houses from a rope which was strung up over our driveway. (We tied the rope to trees.)
After moving in, both parents takes 2 - 4 weeks to build a nest. Four to six eggs are normally laid and these can take 13 - 16 days to hatch. They have only one brood a year.
If you are looking for a bird that will help control the insect populations, (including mosquitoes) consider the tree swallow. A single nest will eat up to a thousand insects a day!
To make a nest cut a 1 1/4" hole into a gourd. I don't even clean the outside of the gourd, only the inside.
Drill a couple of drainage holes in the bottom, use a screw-eye to string the rope though (or to hang) and viola...you have a swallow house.
I was surprised that the Purple Martin is a type of swallow too. There are many Purple Martin enthusiasts out there; many websites about Martins are available.
So although it is too late to attract them this year Debbie, be sure to get your gourds out and ready in an open area early next spring. Once the swallows come, you will be in for a real treat!
Jeff Menzies with his bag of donated gourds.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who donated gourds to the Toronto Zoo Enrichment Program (featured in the May issue of Gourd Fever.)
In the photo above is Jeff Menzies with the gourds he is donating to the zoo. Jeff is a talented artist, musician and teacher and there are exciting times afoot for Jeff these days. He is off to Jamaicia to teach a stringed instrument-making program at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Art. He will also be teaching sculpture.
Good luck Jeff in your travels, thanks for the gourds and keep in touch....Carolyn and Linda
For learn more about Jeff click here:
To hear Jeff Menzies click here:
In June Carolyn, her daughter Jen, son Justin and myself went to a glass blowing class. It was 39 C / 102.2 F outside (with the humidity) and here we were ready to stand in front of a furnace blowing glass! I can say now it was well worth it.
The entire process was fascinating. Chris, our instructor, in the yellow shirt, was extraordinary and we learned an awful lot. Pictured above in the 1st photo is our collection of paperweights, ball ornaments and goblets we made. I had to take this photo quickly as a drop in temperature could cause all of our pieces to break. In the 2nd, Jen is blowing one of those goblets. It was such fun.
If you are interested in going yourself to learn a new art, here is the link to Chris's website: http://www.cvz.ca/bio.html//
Looking Ahead: August 2012
Next month we are travelling to Estevan, Saskatchewan to visit with Julie-Anne Wallewein. Julie-Anne describes herself as a "self-taught artist who is still learning" but she has a vivid imagination and her work is unique.
It will slow down in the gourd garden in August but there will still be a few small jobs to do. August is when the gourds grow and mature and it is such a great feeling to watch this miracle of nature. In the meantime just watch out for the cucumber beetles and the powdery mildew and all will be well.
Other than that enjoy your summer. Take some time to relax and do the things you really like. Those are the things that memories are made from.
Until next time....
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
PS Stories, ideas or comments - Send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org We would love to hear from you.
Volume 8, Number 88
In this issue:Serena Kovalosky: Artist, Writer and Cultural Entrepreneur
The Majestic Gourd: Photographs by Jim Wilson
In The Gourd Patch:Beetles, Fungus and Pollination
Out Of The Mailbag, Gourd Sightings & Trivia
The Bulletin Board
When: August 3 - 6
Where: Barrie, Ontario
(Northern Dipper can be found in Booth 288)
This is a fun show with lots
of exhibitors, music, kid's stuff, food booths and more.
Kempenfest is one of the largest Arts and Crafts show
in Canada. It is not to missed so mark it on your calender.
For more information
"I have an organic approach to design and never really have a clear idea of what I am going
to do with a piece. I will sit with a gourd to get a feel for
its energetic resonance, then I begin to work. I stay open to how the piece evolves...it is almost completely intuitive."
Stories by the Sacred Fire
33"H x 26"L x 19" W
To read about the keepers of the sacred fire click here:
"Art is always a challenge
and I push the boundries.
My latest challenge was incorporating wrought iron into my larger sculptures. I finally found an exceptional (female!) blacksmith to collaborate
with and the work we did
Gourd Spirit Laughing
Advice For New Artists
"Remember there are no mistakes, just new pathways that open up."
"Never give up, but know
when to move on. Create from what you know best & work your passion. It will give your work integrity"
"Art is a calling, but you also have to treat your art as a serious business. Very important otherwise you will
be reduced to creating in
your spare time while managing a day job."
Keeper of the Fire
"Art has many roles - it can heal, inspire, provoke, provide alternative perspectives. It
is good for the mind and
food for the soul."
"The Artist Mind teaches us
to think creativity, which is
a necessary attribute in
these rapidly-changing times."
"I will always keep working with gourds,but I have expanded my creative projects to include curating art exhibitions, writing on art and editing art publications, and developing cultural projects."
"Six years ago, I co-founded an Open biennial for the fine art professionals in my area that brings in over $75,000 in art sales in just 2 days. The project served to establish the area's artistic community and it brought cultural tourism to the region."
(Coiled clay, copper leaf, natural clay glaze)
"Later this month, I'll be travelling to the Canadian Yukon to collaborate with a fellow curator on an exhibition of Yukon artists that will tour museums throughout New England."
"And I have a book project in the works. A creative mind never rests!"
Jim works for the provincial government at the moment but has been a "serious amateur" photographer for the past few years. Before that he studied music at McGill University and at the University of Victoria.
In The Gourd Patch
The gourd field in July
A female flower with her bright yellow, bulbous center.
The orange flower of an ornamental gourd.
Unpollinated gourds dying off.
Spotted cucumber beetle
Striped cucumber beetle
Tying up trellised gourds
Once they are started they will climb naturally themselves.
Pollinating in the evening.
This gourd shaker was
spotted by Antonella at Ten Thousand Villages in Granville Island in Vancouver.
Antonella is a regular contributer of gourd
sightings (she travels so
much we get them from all
over North America) and we are regular followers of her
blog "Love Your Home"
Check it out if you haven't already...it is very good.
Why do dogs dig? Is it instinctual, going back to a time when dogs had to hunt, gorge and bury the remains for a future meal? Or is it just plain old fashioned fun?
Mickey started this habit a couple of months ago when at the beach. He will run along the shore, find a spot and as quick as you like, his ball is gone. Sometimes we can retrieve it, sometimes it is so deep the sand sucks it in.
Judging from that grin
I would say that in today's world digging may be just
plain old-fashioned fun.
What do you think Mick?
I think he agrees.
Music Pic of the Month
Take Me Up
To learn more about Oliver Swain click here:
Garden and Plant Remedies
Eyes and Skin
Did you know that the inside
of a cucumber on the vine measures as much as 20 degrees cooler than the outside air on a warm day?
Cool cucumbers slices are delicious and feel so good on the eyes when they are tired and puffy with dark circles. Take 20 minutes and relax
with your slices - you will feel better and your eyes will
have new life.
Cucumbers also soothe, soften and refresh the skin.
For headaches mix together the following:
- 1/4 cup almond oil
- 20 drops of rosemary essential oil
- 20 drops of lavender essential oil
- 30 drops of peppermint essential oil
Massage your temples, forehead and the back of your neck. If your headache is unusual and/or persistant go see your doctor.
(Essential oils can be found at health food stores.)
Clearing The Air
Green and blooming plants
are a good way to clear the
air of pollution therefore
fighting "sick building syndrome."
Examples of plants to fill your office and home with are:
To learn more about essential oils click here:
PO Box 1145
5376 County Rd 56
L0L 1L0, Canada