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About Gourd Art


Gourd Art and Basketry

Each piece of gourd art is unique, hand made and decorated with original designs and images. No two pieces of gourd art are alike. Art images are pyro-engraved on the gourd surface with a wood-burner and colored with dye and/or acrylic paint. A clear acrylic finish is applied to seal the surface. Baskets are embellished with natural and dyed pine needle coiling. Depending on the size and complexity, each piece of gourd art takes from 6 to 8 hours to complete.

As an art medium, hard-shell gourds and pine needles are highly durable natural materials and will last for generations. To preserve the color of the art piece, treat it as you would any fine art. Keep dry and out of direct sunlight. Dust with a soft brush or cloth. Baskets are suitable as containers for dry objects, only.

About Hard Shell Gourds

It takes as much as a year for the mature gourd to cure into the hardened surface that becomes the canvas for art. The result is a tough but porous surface with a variety of irregular markings and textures that add character and uniqueness to each project.

The fruit of the gourd plant, which is in the cucumber family, ripens on the vine in early October. At harvesting, a mature gourd is 90% water and the curing process involves the leaching of interior moisture through the porous surface which forms a mold on the outer skin. It is this mold, in combination with moisture and other natural elements that forms the irregular light and dark patterns on the gourd's surface.

When the gourd reaches the artist's hands, its outer surface is covered with mold and sometimes mud and straw from the farmer's field. The surface is cleaned with a non-abrasive pad and soap and water. If the gourd is to become a basket, the gourd is then cut, the interior cleaned and dried.

Gourd seeds and fragments found in North America date back as far as 11,000 B.C. and fragments associated with cultural use have recently been found in Florida, dating as early as 6000 B.C. Prior to the introduction of pottery, pre-historic man utilized gourds as vessels for carrying and storing food and water, for cooking and as utensils for serving food, such as dippers, pitchers and bowls. The earliest pottery shapes are patterned after these utilitarian gourd vessels. Additionally, gourds were used in the making of a variety of musical instruments, as floats for fishing nets and as ceremonial masks, containers and rattles.

1. Hard shell kettle gourd

3. Pineneedle coiling

2. Cutting the gourd to make a basket



4. Finished Basket

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