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July updates from the desert southwest...
Welcome to the July issue of the Arizona Gourds newsletter!
Thanks for checking out the latest news! Feel free to pass the newsletter link along to your friends.
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Featured Books of the Month:
You can use this Amazon search box link to find all kinds of books and other products. I appreciate those of you that do so; Amazon purchases made through the links on this website help to support this site.
Here's an assortment of books that will be useful for gourd crafters, even though they are not written specifically about gourds.
The Colored Pencil Painting Bible is the best book I've seen on colored pencil techniques. It has lots of info on materials and techniques for drawing on paper, but the book is inspiring enough that you'll want to pick up your pencils and give it a try on gourds.
The Dover Pictura series are books that include a CD - both are loaded with color illustrations that you can see in the book and also download onto your computer. There are additional titles, including insects, sealife, florals and many more. These are beautiful reference photos that are copyright and royalty free. Prices vary; the Celtic edition is heavily discounted right now.
Woodburning with Style is a recent release. If you enjoy woodburning there is plenty of infomation and ideas that will transfer well to burning on gourds. The Power Carving Manual is also relatively new and is one of the few carving books dedicated to the use of rotary tools. It deals with woodcarving, but the carving techniques are the same on gourds.
Making Great Lamps is now out of print, but used copies are available through the link provided. It includes all the electrification info for making lamps out of a wide variety of materials and would apply to many gourd lamps.
*Please visit the book page links shown at right to view collections of related titles. Each topic includes a variety of suggested books about each subject.
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Gourds Southwest Gourd Techniques & Projects from Simple to Sophisticated
by Bonnie Gibson
NOW OUT OF PRINT - supplies are limited. Last chance to get a copy before they are gone!
(Click on book cover for ordering information.)
All photos and designs copyright © 2010 by Bonnie Gibson and may not be used without express written permission.
Featured Gourd of the Month:
Sonoran Desert Spring - Side One
This large gourd has 3 scenes, each featuring Gambel's Quail and other desert images. This one shows the mother quail and chicks with prickly pear cactus in the background. The top is carved, patinaed and has inlaid turquoise cabochons. (You can see more views of this gourd on my Arizona Gourds Facebook page.)
July Feature - Gourd Lamps
The last two months, we featured artists from other parts of the world, and saw that many of them were making gourd lamps. We put a call out for people that make gourd lamps to send in some photos and information, and we got many great responses. If the artist included written instructions or other information, it is included along with their photos.
Tips of the Month:
Attaching embellishments to a narrow necked gourd & Drilling holes
Q: I did a tall gourd and planned to attach a number of the cones around it with a seed bead inside to hold the knotted thread and the thread going through one seed bead at the top of the cone before attaching the cone to the gourd by putting the thread through a small drilled hole and knotting the thread on the inside of the gourd to hold it in place. Here's where I wasn't thinking, the gourd is tall and I can just barely get my hand inside which makes knotting the thread tight enough to the gourd to hold the cone right up to the gourd a problem. Do you have any idea how I can get the thread to hold tight to the inside of the gourd? I thought of glue but holding the thread in place until the glue dries would take forever and crazy glue would be hard sinceI wont be able to see what I'm doing and just might glue my fingers to the inside of the gourd, which just might make the news, "Woman glues hand to inside of gourd, news at 11". If anyone would have an idea to this problem it would be you, any ideas? Next time I'm plan better! Julie Songer - North Carolina
A: Take a length your sinew or thread and run it through an "E" size bead (larger than a seed bead.) Fold the thread in half with the bead in the middle. Slide the two loose ends up through the bottom of the cone and out of the top. Add another bead at the top if you want. Then, drill a very small hole in the gourd. Put some super glue on the ends of the cord and twist them together into one tight cord and then glue this bundle into the hole. If you use super glue it dries fast. You don't need any knots this way as long as the hole is small. (Insta-Cure gap filling super glue available on the tools page)
Q: I have been attempting some lamp lumineres and wondered if you could help...I don't seem to have the right bits for making the holes without chattering or getting trapped in the hole. My drill bits seem too long and skip and chatter, and my reamers get caught in the hole...I thought after seeing all those wonderful gourd lamp pics from poland that I would try again but need some help. Cedar Wallace - Canada
A: You might try brad point drill bits - these are made for woodworking and have a spike on the end so they won't skip around on the surface. You can find them through woodworking stores, or on my website on the Tools page. *Do you have a tip or tutorial we can feature here? Please contact me. Now available! Synthetic Bear Claws These are made from resin but are amazingly realistic. They would be great accents to gourd rims or on masks. Send me a photo of a finished project that uses these, and I'll publish them in a future newsletter. Available on the Beads and Embellishments page. NEW Bur Boxes These are really fantastic - they are made from hard plastic, are lightweight and have a carrying handle. No more burs falling out when you tip the container - no more digging through a box looking for a one particular bur - get organized and find the bur you need with just a glance! You'll find them on the Rotary Tool Accessories page. Back in Stock: Brad Point Drill Bits The spike on the end of the drill keeps the bit in place - no more skittering burs or need for starter holes! You'll find them on the Tools page. Special Purchase! Hand carved small ironwood quail and roadrunner sculptures. These make wonderful handles for small lids. Because they are handmade from natural materials, each one will be slightly different. You'll find them on the Special Embellishments page - limited stock.
We had a great time at the Pennsylvania Gourd Festival - it was certainly a change from the desert landscape here in Arizona! Wonderful countryside, and the Amish farms were beautiful.
If you haven't had a chance to visit the Gourd Art Enthusiasts site, I encourage you to do so. We now have over 1100 members and 3600 gourd photos to inspire you. Membership is free and easy. The site also has state groups, event listings, a Q&A forum and a chat feature if you need an answer to a gourding question fast!
This month the newsletter features gourd lamps. I know there are many people out there making lamps, so if you want to send in photos we will continue the feature in a future issue. Please consider writing a short tutorial on how you created your lamp - our readers love to see how things are made.
Linda Ralph - England (Photos right)
This is the biggest gourd I have ever grown. Living in the south of England, I have to grow them in my polytunnel. I dried it for a year then carved and painted it, and gave it to a friend who collects Buddhas. It has 3 different sides.
Starr Dahbolt - Florida (Photos below)
These lamps are used for ambiance. They do not give off enough light to read by, they are more for mood lighting. The holes drilled in the gourds allow light to shine on the walls and ceiling and are quite beautiful in a dark room. They are made from gourds, painted with ink dyes, decorated with beads and pine needles on the top and bottom. The bottoms are old lamp bases I get from the thrift store.
Newsletter Index - article and tip index from all the past newsletters
Update: Gourd Classes
NEW! I will be teaching classes in Kentucky (in Taylorsville) on August 4-6. Classes
will include Basic Power Carving, River Bed Gourd, Filigree Carving and more.
I will be teaching classes at the Michigan Gourd Festival September 17-19.
*Join the class updates list if you want to receive advance notice of classes. Get the news first and have the best opportunity to select your classes!
Basic Instructions for lighting a gourd and making a base
The easiest way to light a gourd is to use a lighted cored with a spring clip and on/off switch on the cord. This type of cord uses a night light bulb and is normally bright enough to light a gourd sufficiently. I normally use a wooden base made from a purchased round wooden plaque. Using a hole saw, a cut a 1 ¼” hole in the center just big enough to hold the spring clip on a corded light. Then using a small drum sander on a rotary tool, cut a “U” groove from the center out, this makes a channel for the cord to lay flat under the base. Next, align you gourd on top or the wooden base and tape it in place. Flip the gourd and base over and trace the inside of the hole on the bottom of the gourd. Remove the gourd from the base and cut the hole in the bottom of the gourd. Once your entire gourd is finished, attach it to the base using good quality glue.
A alternate option for a base, would be to cut a ring from a gourd scrap. When I make this type of base, I use painters tape around the out side of the scrap gourd. I then cut the gourd on both sides of the tape creating a ring. Next sand the sides flat and again using a small drum sander on a rotary tool I cut a “U” shape in the edge of the ring to create a space for the cord to come out from the bottom of the gourd.
Fern Light – I used a large egg gourd for this light. Using painters tape, I masked off the areas for the lattice then used a pencil to mark the edges of the tape. Once the edges were marked, I removed the tape and erased any of the unwanted lines creating the interweaving of the lattice. I then drew and burned in the fern fronds. Next, I burned the main lines for the lattice, leaving the wood grain for last. Once all the burning was complete the sections between the lattice and the fronds were cutout and the inside is painted. The base was made using the method given above, using a lighted cord and wooden base.
Pony Light – I used a large martin gourd for this lamp. The focal point on this gourd is a carved section to look like stretched leather, over the opening. In reality, it is all part of the gourd. I added small leather strips to add to the illusion the center section was stretched leather. Around the out side of the opening, I carved sections in a triangular pattern using Inlace for the inlay. Radiating out from the rectangles is a series of circles, the largest of them has a sand inlay, the progressively smaller circle, are holes to let the light show. The sand inlay was created by mixing colored sand (found in the dried plant section of some craft stores) mixed with white glue. The sand glue mixture should be very stiff and firm, almost dry when working it into the different areas. I then use a wet stiff brush to smooth the sand and shape it as needed. Once dry a few coats with a brush on sealer to give it a nice finish. The center section was painted using acrylics, the rest of the gourd was left its natural color. This lamp has the same basic base as described above. I use this method a lot when it comes to making lamps, because it is easy, and gives you a nice finished looking base.
Tree Light – I used half of a canteen gourd for the shade on this lamp. Once the maple leaf design was draw and burned into the surface, the open areas were cut away from the gourd. I then started carving the leaves, re-burning, carving and burning again. I used a two part epoxy material for the trunk and branches. I started with a ¼” thick cardboard tube covered with a wire mesh to hold the sculpting material. I sculpted the main part of the trunk first letting it harden then added the branches, constantly checking they were not going to interfere with placing the shade on top. Once hardened I use acrylics to paint the wooden base and the tree trunk. Using a hole saw, I cut a plug from plywood to fit inside the cardboard tube. This wooden plug became the support for an “S” cluster bulb connector at the top of the light, with a short threaded rod supporting the shade. I cut another small hole in the bottom of the wooden base to thread the wires through to connect the cord with switch and plug. Once everything was wired I glued the tree trunk to the wooden base and turned on the light!
Note: The “S” cluster connectors are not inexpensive, shop around to find the best price. Also, I would suggest taking the gourd with you when you go to purchase one or purchase the “S” cluster then find a gourd large enough to hold the cluster with bulbs. If you don’t know how to wire a lamp I suggest finding a book or asking someone to help you. It’s not hard; you just need to make sure it is done correctly. You are dealing with electricity and you don’t want your new gourd lamp to burn down the house!
More world gourd sightings! These lovely pieces are from Maureen Hall of Gulgong, NSW, Australia. She has been working on gourds for less than a year, but is already busy selling at the local craft markets. Her website has many more gourd photos.
Pennsylvania Gourd Festival at Smucker's Farm
Here are a few photos from the recent Pennsylvania Gourd Show and the surrounding area. The weather cooperated (no rain!) and everyone seemed to have a fun time. The Smucker family and all of the Pennsylvania volunteers did and incredible job!
Gorgeous farmlands, covered bridges and lots of GREEN!
Gourd washing machine - When filled with water and set to rotating, Eli Smucker can wash about 100 gourds at a time! They had a LOT to choose from and all of them were cleaned at no extra charge.
Nikki Ogle - Texas (Photos right)
I recycled an old lamp - just took it apart, adhered the gourd to the base and found another use for the stem. I used a small wattage bulb to avoid fire. I really had to watch the design so that there was a large cutout on top so that I could reach in and change the bulb since the gourd and base were joined. It would have been easier (by far!) if I had just cut out the bottom of the gourd to sit over the bulb like a hurricane lamp would a candle. I was afraid this gourd would topple since it was "upside down" and top heavy though.
You can see more of Nikki's creations on her etsy page.
Chris Pawlik - Michigan (Photos below)
Chris was kind enough to include instructions for her lamps. You may also see more of her lamps on her website.
(*Chris also credits Karen Brown with the inspiration for her tree lamp. See Karen's work below)
Graham O - New York (Photos below)
Graham says she is just a beginner, but if you visit her website, you'll find many attractive lamps.
Sharon Miller - Arizona (Photo below)
James Ozburn "Oz" - Washington (3 Photos below)
You can see more of his work on his website.
Carol Tinsky - North Carolina
More lamp ideas to follow in future newsletters! Send in your photos if you have some ideas to share.
Karen Hundt-Brown - Michigan (Photos below)
Karen is the originator of the "Tree Lamp" and does them beautifully. She was featured in the book "Beyond the Basics - Gourd Art". Karen has some unique and wonderful pieces on her website.
I'd probably do things a bit differently than this fellow - but here's a YouTube video of an easy gourd lamp made from strings of Christmas lights.
Below: Inside the Smucker's shop. In addition to gourd products, they sold preserves, canned vegetables, quilted items, and more. (Notice the propane ceiling lamps? The electricity for the classes was made with generators.)
Lighting instructions are included in the"Gourd Mouse Houses" tutorial available on the project packets page.
"Works great.! I've been looking for something like this for a long time. Its really nice to have all my carving bits in one place." Nora G
I just ordered the big bur box and can't wait to tuck all (yee gads) of the burrs that I have into it. It may become my new best friend. Susan H-W
Order Apoxie Sculpt this month and you'll get a free tips sheet of useful information for working with the product.
Bonnie Adams - Illinois (Photos below)
Bonnie has made many of these "lattice" luminaries. There is a hole in the base for the lighting, which shines through the cutouts. You can see more work by Bonnie on her website. I travel a lot and see people reading with these all the time. The price was just lowered significantly - you might want to check it out.