Gourd Art - Gourd Masks, Vases, Bowls, Ornaments and Unique One-of-a-Kind Gourd Art
A unique collection of gourd art including southwestern themes, gourd masks and other collectable gourd art
I started dabbling in gourd art in 1999 while living in Texas but didn't get serious about working with gourds until moving back to New Mexico in 2007 when I retired. I am & always have been truly inspired by the southwest & the native american culture & without the stress of my job I found that my creative juices were flowing more than ever. My mother always said I was born in the wrong place. What I like most about working with gourds is that it allows me to be more creative than what I can do with just woodburning alone. I create my own designs giving me more opportunity for letting my mind open to new ideas & inspiration.
I am fortunate to have spent a life of traveling, either for work or pleasure & I never leave home without a camera or two & most of my art is inspired by places I've been to throughout my life. While we travel in our motorhome I frequently find a scrap of paper & pencil or pen & start sketching. I have a collection of designs & as I find a gourd that cries out for some of those designs I start turning those designs into gourd art.
In addition to doing art on gourds I am now growing gourds. It's great fun starting them from seeds & watching them grow. Once the gourds are dry & cleaned I start working with them & that's when the fun really begins.
Sometimes I start with an idea & then look through my gourds for just the right one to make it work. Other times I start with the gourd & then figure out what to do with it.
Depending on the idea, I might do some carving, cutting & shaping with a jig saw, pyrography or a combination. Sometimes I combine those with mediums such as acrylic-based paints, gourd dye inks, embossing powder, Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments, etc. I enjoy experimenting with leather, natural fiber, beads, feathers & other embellishments as well. I find that working with gourds gives me much more freedom to create & explore new things than pyrography or painting by themselves, so perhaps this is why I enjoy working with gourds so much.
My gourd art starts out with just an idea & evolve as I work on them & I may change the overall design in midstream because I had a "brain fart" in the middle of the night. I never quite know what will happen until it happens!
The photo on the left is of my gourd net. It contains all my larger sized gourds waiting for a project.
Many of the gourds I did while living in Texas were pre-digital camera & I was unable to get good copies to post them on our website so most of the gourds seen here are brand new.
Now that I am retired & have a bit more time on my hands I have backed off on teaching & gotten back into what I really love...actually doing the art rather than teaching it! I feel like a kid again, doing what I want, when I want to & that is exactly how I do my art!
2012 has been a good year. In spite of having my last of 5 hand surgeries this year I've made up for the last few years. So far I have been able to make 2 gourd masks in honor of the Louisiana Gourd Festival & I am completing 2 southwestern gourds & will have them both done before heading to Arizona for the winter. I never set a pace for what I intend to do, I just let the spirits move me. Sometimes I don't get any smoke signals & other times I know just what I want to do. Masks are very time consuming especially larger ones so with all our traveling I don't have much time to do more than a couple a year depending on size. The last few years I was lucky to do a couple of gourds each year but since I do them for myself I do them as I come up with & idea & the motivation to do it. As I said, this was a very good year for me in terms of the physical ability to do it, the inspiration & motivation.
Please click on the photos below to go to each Gallery
Vases, bowls & other miscellaneous gourd art
|Native American Style & Southwestern
A variety of gourds with southwestern themes
Collectable ornaments with unique designs
Unique gourd masks with pizzazz!
WHY IS GOURD ART SO EXPENSIVE????
That's a great question & let me give you some idea of what is involved in gourd art.
- First I have to plant seeds & of course say lots of prayers.
- Gourds require a lot of water & fertilizer.
- Once they start growing & flowers develop some growers, like myself, hand pollinate to ensure that each female flower is pollenated. This means I have to go out at dusk (for hard-shelled gourds) & in the morning (for the ornamental gourds) to individually pollinate each female flower.
- Guard against pests, deer & squirrels.
- Once the growing season is over gourds need to dry out which could take six (6) months or more. Part of this drying time is on the vine & the remainder of the time done in drying bins which allow air flow. This requires time, patience & lots of room.
- Now comes the fun. Removing the skin & cleaning the outside of the gourd is the hardest & least fun part of working with gourds. Regardless of what type of gourd art I am creating I MUST clean the surface of the gourd. First I soak the gourd in warm, soapy water with a little bleach added to kill the mold. Then the best part....scrubbing. Oh, yes this is truly the best part...NOT!
- If cutting the gourd open (for bowls & vases) we're now adding on a lot more work. I use a mini jig saw to cut the top open & in some cases I do fancy cutting to create unique edging along the top of the gourd. Then the inside of the gourd must be thoroughly cleaned out & sanded.
- Once completely clean I paint & seal the inside.
- The design is sketched either on paper or directly on the surface of the gourd & I can now, burn, paint, dye, carve, inlay or a combination of all of them. This process could take anywhere from 30 minutes to several days to complete the project. Often times it requires experimenting on scrap pieces before working on the project.
- Several layers of protective varnish is applied which may take up to two days for drying.
- Beads & embellishments, such as feathers, sea grass, leather, etc. are sometimes added at this point. Of course all these embellishments all add to the price of the materials. Feathers can add quite a bit to the price especially if using exotic feathers as I do on my masks.
I hope that this will help you understand & appreciate the time & work involved in creating gourd art. Most artists, including me frequently end up working for minimum wage so please don't ask me if I will take less for my time & effort. & all of this is just for a regular gourd. A gourd mask is far more labor intensive when you start adding in all the individual feathers.
I am a member of the American Gourd Society, California Gourd Society, New Mexico Gourd Society, Arizona Gourd Society, Ohio Gourd Society, Washington Gourd Society, Idaho Gourd Society, Louisiana Gourd Society, Texas Gourd Society & several other gourd societies. Hard to keep track!
How you can purchase one of my original gourds.
If you would like to purchase one of my original gourds or would like to discuss a commission, contact me
All of my artwork is copyright protected. It may not be copied, reproduced, used as a pattern, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the artist.