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Gourd Enthusiasm Growing Around the World
Gourds pLaid an essential role in the daily life of early cultures. Commonly used as containers and vessels, they were also used for musical instruments. Some cultures used gourds for birdhouses and feeders and this is what most people today think of when they hear the word gourd. Or maybe you can remember a dipper made out of a gourd at Grandma's house years ago.
Now artists and crafts people have discovered a new medium to develop their creativity. I'm not sure when the gourd craze officially started but it worked it's way into my life about eight years ago by way of an article in a gardening magazine. It looked interesting and so that spring I decided to grow a couple gourd plants.
My first creations were, of course, birdhouses. Later, after some research and book purchases, the world of gourds exploded and I have found that the creative possibilities are limitless. Even if you can't come up with your own ideas there are a multitude of books and tutorials written by gourd artists and crafters explaining different techniques that can be done with gourds.
Gourd craft is working its way into the hands of accomplished artists who have found the gourd to be an exciting new way to showcase their art. They are not just for crafters anymore.
So now that you have gotten a little gourd enthusiasm of your own what comes next? Well, the gourd of course. Gourd growers and suppliers, once few and far between, are beginning to pop up everywhere. Many can be found on the internet.
Gourds come in all shapes and sizes, from minis to giants. The name of the gourd can give you a clue about the shape, such as egg, cannonball, canteen, basketball, bottle and so forth. You get the idea.
In order to work with the gourd it must be dry. If you happen to find gourds being sold in the fall at a farmers market they will most likely be freshly harvested. These will have to dry for a few months to a year or more depending on size. I personally don't like to purchase green gourds, as they are called, just in case they haven't fully matured. Some growers new to the world of gourd craft don't understand the needs of the gourd artist. They are only concerned with growing gourds for fall decoration. A poorly grown gourd, instead of drying, may rot or have a shell too thin to work with.
I'm in favor of buying gourds that have already dried. This way surprises and disappointments can be reduced. You still may have a few along the way though. When gourds dry they produce a moldy skin that eventually dries on the gourd. This skin has to be removed before art work can begin. After the skin is removed you may discover some holes or warts on your gourd. Or during cleaning you might discover your hard gourd has turned soft once you got it wet. This is the sign of a thin shell. There are things that can be done with a thin shell but for the most part we look for gourds with thick, sturdy shells.
To avoid these problems, look for cleaned, ready to craft gourds. These gourds have been cleaned for you. Cleaning is a messy job and you may not have the desire or area in which to do it yourself.
So come and join in the fun and find out for yourself the addicting powers of the gourd.
Martha Bloom: grower and crafter of gourds.
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