Friday, September 26, 2008

An obsession with gourds

Atlanta has this lovely art festival every spring called Dogwood Festival. This is held in Piedmont Park near downtown Atlanta, which has a profusion of dogwood trees. All the trees are usually in full bloom during the festival, and artists from all over the country bring their creations for display and sale in small stalls. With live music, food and as many dogs milling around as people, this festival is very popular in the city, and we always made it a point to go during the years we lived there.

It was there that I first saw crafted gourds and have been wanting to learn to do it myself since. There are a couple of gourd farms in the Georgia mountains north of Atlanta. We visited one of them and bought several dried gourds there, along with some books on the subject.

Outside, they had these huge, funny gourd masks that Raghav just had to try on.

Since then, it's been an ongoing effort to learn this art form, and I've been making slow progress. This first piece is called Women of the World and I copied it from a book by Dyan Mai Peterson, trying to figure out how it all works.

I really like the effect when pine needles are woven along the top of the gourds. This is a very common technique, and was fun to learn.

I also bought a Native American pattern book, modified some of their basic designs, and combined with some of my own for this gourd.

This plant holder was easy to make, and has been put to good use too!

The smell of burnt gourd when I use the wood burning tool to first draw on the designs is pretty intoxicating! There's only so much time, and there are all these lovely gourds still waiting for an identity!

If any of you carves gourds too, I'd be very much interested in talking to you about it. I'm still trying to figure out the best tools to use and where to get them cheap. I've just been using the most basic tools from Home Depot, and there's only so much you can do with those. Before investing in better tools, I need to do some groundwork. If you can give me any tips (or even if not), would love to hear from you!


Chris' Shady Grove said...

I have always wanted to try this. There is a lady in our area that sells these and has a hard time keeping them in stock at the local gallery.

Chris' Shady Grove said...

P.S. I love your work.

megha punater said...

in africa they make music intruments out of these,nice :)

Jude said...

Oh, wow, they are wonderful. Here in Crete, you find gourds growing everywhere, but people just roughly paint them and make them into lamp shades.Please, if you find any more information regarding tools etc, I'll be very interested.

bindu said...

Chris - thanks. I'm sure you can easily extend your creativity to gourds too!

Megha - yes, and in india too, there are musical instruments made out of gourds. Interesting!

Jude - thanks for visiting. I'll let you know what I find out.

priya said...

these are fabulous. i really love the plant holder and i wish i knew how to make one of these for myself.

pink dogwood said...

I apologize for my ignorance - but are these dried gourds? My skills are limited to carving out eyes and mouth on a jack-o-lantern.

thanks for sharing your beautiful creations!!

Ganesh Venkittu said...

Bindu - this is awesome work...more along the lines of "to some people, the difference is obvious" ( can you place what that is?)

I am going to show this to Sanju...she has evidently a large portion of Sowmya's "Creative" genes, and therefore has this penchant for artwork...she would so love this, that I would end up in trouble -- she is going to bug me to get her all the tools, tips and books..

so send me an email (sow gan sixonesixthree attttttt yahoooooooooooooo dot calm) with
a) where do you go get these gourds from
b) basic tool kit - the carver, the smoother, the corer etc
c) the paint kit
d) books
etc etc

Kerri Jean said...

I have never tried my hand at gourd art, but these are wonderful. I love the organic shapes of gourds, combined with vivid paint colors and wonderful patterns.

Sydney said...

My goodness, these are absolutely GORGEOUS. You are doing such a great job on them, and there is such diversity! I love the one that is woven on top... simple but really appeals to me. They are all stunning in different ways, and I like that you were are exploring so many different cultures in using the gourds you found.

I could not believe my eyes when I read your comment on my blog! We did have to loan out many of the 1000 squirrels to Austin, Dallas, San Antonio. They are so precious and need you so much -- it was impossible to care for all of them 4-5 feedings a day, not to mention taking care of ones who had water in their lungs from IKE, who had pneumonia, or had fallen and had injuries, etc... The idea that we could have fed some of the same squirrels takes synchronicity to a new level!

Aren't they just adorable? I went in this AM and will go again tomorrow. I don't know if you scrolled down after the post you commented on but there are several pix/movie clips on them.

will come back often and hope you do too!

bindu said...

Priya - thanks. Given your talents, I'm sure you could create some nice gourds!

Bhavana - thanks. yes, these are dried gourds. Their consistency is that of wood when I get them.

Ganesh - thanks. I'll send you an email with more details. Nice to know Sanju is into art too! :)

Kerri Jean - thanks. You're right - the gourd texture itself is so pretty. The dye is transparent of course, so all those textures come out so nicely.

Sydney - thanks for getting in touch. When I saw your blog I was totally amazed too. This was the first time I'd held squirrels in my hands, and now I'm in love. I will post something about that experience soon, and will definitely continue to check your blog for more about your experiences.

bindu said...

Sydney - if you want to swap more animal stories, my email is bindu11 (at)

Rima said...

Hello Bindu, thanks for visiting me, glad you enjoyed your wander... pleased to meet you too. These gourds are amazing!
Best wishes from Scotland

Karine said...

Hi Bindu, your gourds are wonderful. It looks to me as though you are well on your way with this art form. I wish I had some wisdom to share with you, but I do not. If I meet any gourd artists, I will be sure to send them your way.

Oh, and thanks for stopping over at my blog!

Jude said...

Just thought you'd like to know, found a wood burning tool in a hobby shop..............
Watch my blog!!!!!