Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Out of My Gourd

A lot of people have said that I must be out of my gourd, and now I think they’re absolutely right.

I’m exploring a whole new world of crafting with gourds and it’s proving to be a lot of fun. It started when I grew some gourds in my Dad’s garden in 2003. We must have had green thumbs because they really took off. I had no idea they required so much room to grow!

I didn’t do anything with them for the longest time. They just sat in my parents garden shed collecting dust and drying out (as gourds do). When my Mom thought she’d clean out a few things and wanted to throw them away, I finally decided to do something with them.

The first things I made were birdhouses. Different hole sizes for different birds depending on the overall size and shape of the gourds themselves. I drilled some small drain holes in the bottom and added a leather strap for hanging. I painted them with acrylic paint and then a top coat of spray polyurethane so they could be used outdoors. They don’t have perches because I learned that perches actually put the birdhouse inhabitants in danger. They make it easy for larger, more predatory birds to hang out on the perch and attack the birds inside.

When I ran out of my own home-grown gourds, I started buying them from Welburn Farms, a gourd Farm in California. Who knew people grew and sold dirt-encrusted dry gourds? With the gourds I’ve purchased, I’ve started making bowls. I began with low-rim bowls and used a Dremel tool to carve some shapes and lines. My beginner efforts were rather primitive, but that’s what gives them their charm. I used regular wood stain to color the interior and exterior. Like the birdhouses, I coated them with polyurethane for a finish. The poly, once dried, makes them food-safe for dry foods like chips or bread.

I really must be out of my gourd because now I have a bunch of gourds in various stages of completion littering my kitchen and workshop area. I’m finding it rather rewarding though. It’s very creative to figure out what to do with each design, very zen-like because I have to be present and pay attention to what I’m doing when I’m working on them, and very satisfying to end up with a useful piece of primitive artwork that I can use around the house or give as gifts.

Now when people say that I’m out of my gourd, I just say ‘thank you’.

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