To create gourd art
To carve or decorate gourds, choose completely mature fruits that have been fully cured. I buy my gourds from vendors at festivals and at Welbourn farms. Since Welbourn farms is located in California and have a longer growing season, their gourds are thicker and better for carving.
Place the gourd in water with some bleach added. Place a wet towel over the top to hold the gourd down. Let soak for 20-40 minutes. Scrub with some type of scrubber. If they are hard to clean, put back in the water for a longer time. There will be a fine skin covering the gourd. If necessary, I take a knife and very carefully remove the skin. If you don’t remove the skin, the ink dyes will not penetrate correctly.
Sometime you have to really look at the gourd to decide what you want to do. If you decide to cut the top off or cut designs completely through the gourd, you must clean the inside of gourd.
Use a pencil to draw lines onto the gourd to help you decide where to cut. To start the cut, use a exact knife or drill a small hole as a start line. You can use a hand saw or mini saw. I use a Proton mini saw which I purchased from Amazon. You can also use a carving burr like the fili -point burr.
The inside will be full of seeds and other matter. Use a scrapper at first. I then use a cleaner ball. I have three different sizes and grits. I got mine from Welbourn Farms but can be purchased from others vendors. Be sure to wear a good mask or air filter purifying respirator because the dusk can by very harmful to your lungs. When the inside is all sanded down, paint the inside. I usually mix in some varnish with the paint for the inside. I usually use black on the inside.
For your design, either draw the design on the gourd or use a pattern and transfer with carbon paper. You can also buy designs that has an adhesive backing and all you have to do is cut it out and stick to your gourd. You can then burn the pattern on the gourd and then peal off.
The next step is to wood burn around the design. I have an Optima wood burner which I bought at the Cherokee Gourd Festival. You can use this as a guide to cut out patterns or paint the pattern on the gourd. You can use a wood burner to shade the design.
If you are going to cut out a design, begin by starting the cut with a sharp carving tool, or burn into the surface with a wood burner or use a carving burr like the fili-point burr.
I use acrylics, transparent acrylics, and ink dyes to color the designs. You can also use alcohol dyes but the dyes will fade over time. I also use white and black gourd paint, transparent pigment powders, patina finish paints and metallic gourd inks.
You can use other specialty and finishing burrs to carve in and around your design. You can also stipple around your design with a ball burr or burn a stipple. I use the Gourd Master Pro Carver II to carve my gourds.
Other supplies I use are gourd varnish, Quik wood, gel glaze, texture and filler, heat activated glue, metal leaf and protecting wax. I also use minwax finishing paste and Krylov mate finishing spray.
I started painting gourds in 2015. These gourds are not for sale but used for gifts and for my own enjoyment. I hope you enjoy looking at the slide show of my favorite gourds.