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Karma's Gold by Carla Bratt
In This Issue: This month we are pleased to have with us Carla Bratt, owner of Laughing Fish Studios.
Her fine gourd art can be found in many upscale galleries and at juried art shows throughout the U.S. Her art has been featured in many books and art publications as well as in numerous magazines and newspaper articles.
Encaustic Collage work by Carla Bratt
Carla's artistic interests are not limited to gourds. She is a printmaker working with both traditional and contemporary fish prints. A fascinating woman to interview, please welcome Carla Bratt in this October issue of Gourd Fever.
Tomorrow's Promise by Carla Bratt
October is harvest time and now the question that many first time gourd growers have is "What do we do with them now!" There is a correct way to harvest and "In The Gourd Garden" we will give you all the tips you will need in both the harvest and in the drying process.
Dried gourds under blue skies.
Another fall pastime during harvest is green-peeling. This technique is used when an artist wants a clear shell with no mottling or blemishes. Designs can be green-peeled onto the gourds so take a look at this...it is pretty cool.
Add in a gourd sighting from our youngest sleuths yet, music, trivia and more.
Carla Bratt - Laughing Fish Studios
Fine Art Gourds and More
Since the age of two Carla Bratt has lived in California...beginning off the coast and in San Francisco, and now, in a very rural area outside of Sacramento. About 25 years ago she was into basket making or as she says "she was attempting to make a basket!" A friend of hers encouraged her to take a gourd art workshop at The Caning Shop in Berkley and Carla found that she loved the artistic possiblities that gourds had to offer.
The arts were not new to Carla. Looking back she states that she has always been involved in art making in one way or another, even when she was focused on raising her son in the early years.
Always on the leading edge Carla was a founder, board member and instructor of an after school multi-cultural art program that served 350 K - 8 students for many years. Her family home became a mecca for kids who would make art of all kinds; sculptural wood block projects, clay pots, batik, egg art, the list was endless...and as you can well imagine, so was the mess!
Art history was Carla's minor, but most of her art has been extremely self directed. In the past she had enrolled in a few workshops to enhance her finish work, but the truth is that Carla really enjoys learning from her own personal failures as well as her successes.
To Carla the process of creating is not just about the physical side of art making. It really begins with a concept. But the nuts and bolts of her process begins with research (it's particularily important to get cultural work correct, ie Japanese icons are NOT Chinese icons because they are both Asian.) The next step is to start drawing multiple layouts using a light table.
From the layouts Carla will select a gourd, either in her studio or from the field. There is the prepping of the gourd surface and then the design goes down. It is burned, carved or painted with any extra media added, all in a variety of combinations. Finally, the gourd is sealed with multiple layers of spray poly. The finished piece gets inventoried, photographed, priced, tagged and delivered.
In addition to gourds, Carla has a strong love for printmaking. She creates both traditional and contemporary fish prints; all hand pulled and hand coloured. She added encaustic collage work that she has incorporated into her fish prints.
Recently she purchased a Conrad etching press and has set up a second studio dedicated to relief printmaking and monotype work.
Carla was involved with a couple of local gourd patches for a brief period of time but found that due to the time and commitment needed, she could not maintain it. She is a member of the California and American Gourd Societies and has attended a few gourd festivals.
The truth is that where Carla loves to be is in her studios. She works independently and is always busy. Placing 90% of her art in galleries she also does a few juried art shows a year. Future plans include expanding a print and card line through her etching press as well as the expansion of her gourd jewelery line. A new- born infant t-shirt line (based on her Critter gourd series) is something she would like to develop too. To summarize in a nut-shell Carla smiles when she says "There is never enough time for me. Art is from sun-up to sun-down!"
Thank you Carla. We love your work - both your gourd art and fish prints are superb. All the best with future plans - the ideas are great and we know you will always be successful. Carolyn and Linda
To see more of Carla's work click here:
As a commercial grower harvest time was a great excuse for us to have a party. Our friends would join us and we would spend the day out in the field cutting gourds from the vine, gathering and storing. In the evening a big farm dinner and music followed. It was a memorable time and was a celebration of the changing of the seasons.
Tips on harvesting and drying gourds:
1.) If you live in a cold climate, the # 1 rule is do not harvest your gourds until after the first hard frost which occurs in late October or early November. It will be time to get out your hand pruners when the leaves look just like the ones in the photo above.
2.) When you cut the gourds from the vine leave 2 - 3 inches of stem. The stem will act as a natural seal against unwanted bacteria which may rot the gourd. The stem can be worked into some nice art designs as well.
3.) If any have soft spots get rid of them. They can not be saved and will just rot into slimy pools.
4.) The key to good drying is air circulation. If you have trellised gourds you can leave them hanging for the winter. Gourds grown on the ground should be cut from the vine. If you have a pallet spread them out with a little space between each gourd.
5.) Unheated sheds or garages work well too - just make sure to spread them out a bit. Check on them every once in a while and remove any that look like they are rotting.
6.) Finally clean up the gourd garden!!! This will eliminate potential problems next year.
Good luck everyone. We hope your experience in growing gourds was delightful. We'll be back in the spring to begin this wonderful process all over again. See you then!
Makayla, Christian and Jessica
Hi Carolyn and Linda,
Hope all is going well with you. We had mentioned that our grandchildren Makayla, Christian and Jessica spotted a few gourds on one of their favorite TV programs. It is called Good Luck Charlie and the pear shaped and apple gourds showed up in one of the character's home.
They would be absolutely thrilled if you could mention them in your next newsletter. We would be too!
We will be in touch with you soon about going to the CGS Gourd Festival. We look forward to seeing you.
Linda and Mike
The cast of Good Luck Charlie
Hi Linda and Mike,
Well I do believe that these are the youngest gourd sleuths we've met so far and we think it is great! Looks like gourds are popping up everywhere. Thank you kids, good work on your part and thanks Linda for sending this in. See you at Gourd Fest.
Carolyn and Linda
To learn about Makayla, Christian and Jessica's favorite show Good Luck Charlie click here:
Looking Ahead: November, 2012
Next month is going to be a fun issue. We are calling it "On The Road Again: Gourd Times In Michigan and Toronto." And good times it was. The Michigan Gourd Festival was inspiring; lots of exhibits, vendors and very friendly people. By the end of our visit we felt energized and can't wait to share some of our experiences with you.
Two weeks later we set up at the Canadian Gourd Festival as vendors. It was held at the Buckhorn Community Centre in Buckhorn, Ontario. In addition to the CGS Gourd Festival there was an art show with stained glass, painters, etc. Lots of familiar faces, amazing gourd art; it was a good time too.
We'll have a lot of mail (couldn't fit it in this month) and our usual trivia. If you have photos of your harvested gourds please send them in. Our readers would love to see them and so would we.
Lastly if you get the chance to get to the One Of A Kind Christmas Show stop by and say hello!
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
Ideas - Send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 8, Number 91
In this issue:Carla Bratt: Art Is From
Sun-Up To Sun-Down!
The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper
In The Gourd Garden: Season's End - The Harvest
Out of the Mailbag, Gourd Sightings & Trivia
The Bulletin Board
October WorkshopsGhoulish Pumpkin
Saturday, October 13
Sunday, October 21Christmas Penguin
Saturday, October 20
Saturday, October 27Festive Snowman
Sunday, October 28
For details click here:http://www.northerndipper.com/
Ball's Falls Thanksgiving Festival
When: Friday, Oct 5-8
For details & directions click here:
One Of A Kind
When: Nov 22 - Dec 2
Where: Toronto, Ontario
For details (including videos) click here:
"It is my hope that artists continue to bring beauty and critical thinking to a world
that is now filled with so
much discord. People from
all corners of the globe share a need to express themselves in some sort of creative way...
maybe we artists are the REAL peacemakers..."
"I approach design initially with an emotional thought, some sort of conceptual idea springs into my head...maybe from a childhood memory or a
spoken word. It's very hard to describe, but eventually that thought starts to translate
into an image."
"I very rarely have a gourd "speak" to me, in fact almost never. I almost always chose
a gourd to fit my thought or drawn image."
Words of Advice For New Artists
"New artists should really
give it all a go in the beginning...but then they
must find their own heart.
They need to find the
medium and the message
that best fits their own personal truth."
"Finding what process brings them joy and developing their own voice from that process
is the key. Remember
the motivation comes from
within and the passion
will show in the work."
"It is that art that will always speaks to the viewer. The viewer could include a gallery owner or potential buyer."
"Be as perfect in
the finish work as possible.
Do not take shortcuts to
make money, again it will show in the final piece."
"New artists should
understand that if they
want to move on to becoming
a working artist, they will
need to wear a 'business'
hat as well."
"Finally new artists need to believe in their work. If they cannot do that, then how can they expect someone else to...again like a potential
buyer or gallery owner."
"I've come to know best
that with my art, I work best
in an ulta solitary way. However, my personal and social interests include rock collecting (have been a member of a rock club for many years) and
Green peeling is a process
that is used by carvers and people who woodburn. It
leaves the shell clear with no mottling; very beautiful and flawless. It provides a lovely canvas to work on.
Using an Exacto knife gently scrape off the outer skin.
Do not dig into the gourd or make cuts...it is a bit like peeling a plum.
For a super clean shell wipe down the shell with a mixture of bleach and water.
Once the outer skin has turned brown cut the end off of one end. In a bucket knock out as many of the seeds as you can. (Loofahs have lots of seeds.)
Peeling a loofah...
One way to peel a loofah is
to simply pull the skin away.
If you find this is a tough go (sometimes the skin likes to stick) soak the loofah in
warm water. This loosens
the skin allowing it to easily peel away. Knock out the
rest of the seeds.
To whiten your loofahs soak
in a mixture of bleach and water. Rinse well and
hang to dry.
It's A Dog's Life
The English Romantic poet Lord Byron was so devastated by the death of his beloved Newfoundlander
named Boatswain, that he had inscribed upon the dog's gravestone the following,
"Beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without feriocity,
and all the virtures of man without his vices."
For more information and trivia about dogs click here:
Music Pick of the Month
Our New Normal
Photo by Jonathon Hayward
CP File Photo
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7
PO Box 1145
5376 County Rd 56
L0L 1L0, Canada