Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gourd-ous Gourd Bowls

Gourd crafting has become a great hobby. My initial efforts at making gourd bowls were a bit raw, but I’ve enjoyed the process of learning the craft and trying new things. When I first started making bowls, I used what I had on hand to color the gourds, which was wood stain. I found I could get quite a few different colors from the amount of stain I used and by using more than one application.

I had seen some gourds that had some beautifully rich finishes and wanted to learn more about that. Different colors, rich hues and stunning shine. So I looked into typical finishes for gourds and found that both leather dyes and gourd inks seemed to be the most common finishes used by serious artists. I decided to try gourd ink because it seemed easier to use and clean up. I purchased the ink from Welburn Farms, the same California gourd farm where I purchased some dried gourds.

I also wanted to try my hand at inlaying so I started with inlaying some glass beads in the bowl rims. I used my Dremel tool with a flex shaft which makes it easier to control. I’ve found that inlaying takes great attention to detail and I have to be very present when working on carving out the spaces where the beads will be placed. If I’m not, I tend to mess up and then the bead doesn’t fit snugly without gaps around it.

Here are a few of my most recent pieces. It’s amazing to see how the ink covers the gourd and decides what it wants to look like, with no help from me. The first gourd bowl is inked with sky blue, but the raw colors of the gourd itself made the finish look more like a mottled seafoam green/blue. The exterior was then finished with a coat of spray polyurethane. I left the interior natural with only a mineral oil finish. I like the look and it can be used safely with foods. I placed blue and green beads into the carved out areas around the rim and secured them in place with hot glue, which is transparent when dry.

The other bowl is inked with a medium brown color on the exterior. The hard exterior shell accepts the ink differently than the interior which is more of an exposed surface. So on the interior, I used the medium brown ink but mixed it with varnish. Combining the varnish with the ink makes the ink more closely match the exterior color while also protecting it. Otherwise the ink would be much darker when it covers the rough, exposed surface. The rim of the bowl has amber glass bead inlays. These were also secured in place with hot glue.

I think these gourd bowls are gourd-ous.

1 comment:

Garden Chick said...

Fabulous! I've wanted to start doing such things with gourds and wasn't sure how. You gave me information I can use to start. Thank you!