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Last Fall our Daughter crafted a jack-o-lantern and we deposited all of the seeds, cut-out pieces, etc. behind the barn for the birds to clean up. Later we also tossed several decorative gourds in the same location. About mid-Summer we noticed something growing in that area and decided to let it grow. It wasn’t long be for the vines were running every which way, huge leaves formed, and blossoms were everywhere. We were excited to see the blossoms give way and watched eagerly as the plant swelled to produce its crop. Finally the crop started to take on the familiar shapes and colors of Pumpkins and Gourds!
We began to wonder what we would do with all of these wonderful gourds. And, we delighted in finding an abundance of uses beyond just basic decorations. You may find it surprising that gourds are one of the earliest crops to be domesticated and grown for at least 10,000 years. Most varieties are inedible due to a lack of flesh or undesirable flavor. But, you can use them as ornamentation or for musical instruments and utensils.
They’re green in the field, but after harvest, they slowly dry out, leaving a woody shell. It takes approximately four months for the gourds to completely dry. Finally, the hard shell is ready for you to carve, burn, or paint for a variety of crafting possibilities and Folk Art creations.
You find a variety of gourd shapes and sizes at farmer’s markets, super markets or online retailers in early fall. Gourd crafting and painting evolved from early hand carvings to the modern-day art, including: ornaments, bowls, vases and wall art. Artistic styles can range from craft to fine art and vary from tiny pieces of jewelry to giant sculptures.
The American Gourd Society was founded in 1937. And, The Canadian Gourd Society was formed in 1999. Both of these groups are national nonprofit organizations dedicated to the education and instruction of those interested in gourd history, cultivation, painting, crafts, and participating in competitions.
You can find gourd art shows and festivals occur in many places throughout North America. And, it’s no longer considered just a craft, gourd art is being elevated to being featured in a number of galleries and magazines. In 2003, gourd artists from the United States, Australia, and Canada created the world’s first Gourd Patch Quilt. Artists brought their particular artistic style to a flat 4″ × 4″ gourd tile which were stitched together to create a quilt. The Gourd Patch Quilt made its debut in April 2004 at the Indiana Gourd Show.
Written by Tamara Pearce, owner of Pearce’s Craft Shop