Arizona Gourds
Updates from the desert southwest...
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You can use this Amazon search box link to find all kinds of books and other products. Amazon purchases made through the links on this website help to support this site. 
*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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What's new on the Arizona Gourds website? 
Featured Gourd of the Month:
This small canteen gourd was carved in one of my texture classes.  The hummingbird was carved from basswood and painted with acrylics. The gourd has some acrylics and colored lacquers.
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Printable PDF File
Newsletter Index - article and tip index from all the past newsletters
Newsletter Index
*Want to see my listing of top gourd books?  Here is my  "Listmania" listing on Amazon
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*NEW GROUP on Facebook - "Gourding Destash".  This is the place to sell your used gourd tools and excess supplies.  No fees to sell your surplus supplies and raw gourds.* 
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Just type what you are looking for into the seach box below. *Can't see the search box?  Please disable your ad blocker for the Arizona Gourds domain.
I usually try to choose books that are new or are related to some of the subjects in the newsletter.  Ultimately, some of these titles may give you the inspiration to try something new in your own gourd work. 

Let me know if you have a non-gourd art book that you find especially useful to you (a technique, a product, an new skill - anything that helps you with your gourd projects.. I'd love to showcase some of your favorites in the next newsletter!  Drop me a note with the title/author of the book, your name, and why you like the book.
Arizona Gourds Newsletter Index
See all our old newlsetters with indexed articles and tips from the past 10 years!  NOTE: OLD Newsletters are going to be gradually  phased out and converted to PDF Files.
Please view soon while they are still web based!     Newsletter Index
I often get questions about shipping costs that are added to shopping cart sales.  To clarify things, I've added a new page to the website,
Shipping Policies.
I am using a no-frills shopping cart program that has limitations and little flexibility.  By not paying for expensive software, I can offer you lower prices on the website merchandise.  I'm not looking to make a profit on shipping;  if you order lightweight items you will likely get a refund or some freebies to make up for it. Please take a minute to look at the shipping policies page for clarification and explanation of how things work.  If you ever have any questions, please feel free to email me directly.  I value your business!
Welcome to the March issue of the Arizona Gourds newsletter! 
Photos and design copyright © 2018 by Bonnie Gibson and  may not be used without express written permission.
Featured Books:

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Class updates

I have started posting classes for 2018 and will continue to add more as they are set up, including some in Tucson.  Keep an eye on the classes page for more offerings - they will be posted as soon as details are finalized.  Here are some that are currently on the schedule:

March 22-25  Folsom/Amador (northern California) classes.  Please contact Barbara Rippetoe for more information.  Classes will include Basic Power Carving, Doodles and Glass, Fancy Filigree and Carved Textures.

March 27-28 Classes in San Jose,CA area. Please contact Jody Dingivan for more information

May 7-8  Indiana Gourd Workshop.  I will teach 2 day workshop on May 7-8  in Westville, IN.  Please contact Ida Kennedy for more information. Classes are Filigree/Spiral Carving and Pueblo Ladies.

May 18-20   3 day workshop in Boise, Idaho.  Please contact Chris Peters for more information at   Classes will include Basic Power Carving, Swept Ashore and Carved Textures.

May 27 - 28 San Diego Gourd Patch Classes (open to patch members) Contact Mary Lou Linton

June 1-3 Temecula Gourd retreat (FULL)

August 1-5  Classes at the Texas Gourd FestivalClasses to be announced soon on the Texas Gourd Society page.

October 3 -4  Onalaska, WA Swept Ashore/Carved Textures.  Please contact Stacy Annon for information.

October 6 - 7  Portland, OR   Spiral Patterns and NW Coast Pottery Shards   Contact Joan Arens

October 18 - 20  Page, AZ   Raven Canyon Gourd / Woven Filigree Conctact Marcia Krickhahn for information
Enter your email address into the text box, and hit the submit button to join the class updates notification list.
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity between the Wuertz gourd festival and some classes held for groups after the festival was over.  During this time, I sold out of several items but most of them are already back in stock again.  Thank you for your patience during this time while I was trying to catch up on things!

I am pleased to report that the Raven Entanglement gourd received a winning bid of $2500 and a donation check for that amount is already on the way to help sustain the AGS Artistry award for many years. 

Thank you!  Your purchases made from Arizona Gourds and from our Amazon links enable us to keep these free newsletters and the Gourd Art Enthusiasts site available.  We sincerely appreciate your business.
Feature:  Highlights from the Arizona Gourd Society Competition

The Arizona Gourd Society holds its annual competition at the Wuertz gourd festival each year.  Here are just some of the highlights from the show!
Tip of the Month:  Cleaning tools and files

Bonus Feature - Beaded Gourds by Bob Swendsen

I had the pleasure of running into Robert Swendsen at the recent Wuertz Gourd festival.  He had entered two pieces in the gourd show (including displaying his 2015 Excellence in Gourd Artistry Award winner in the Grand Master's display) and he also showed me two other wonderful beaded gourd pouches he had made.  I thought everyone would enjoy seeing these as well, they are so exceptionally well done and labor intensive that you can't help but to be amazed by the work!  I took the photos of him holding the pouches so you could see the size of the pieces.

The new "Native Treasures" and "Carving Burs Selection & Uses" Project Packets are now available on the Project Packets page.
Question:  What is the next project you'd be interested in seeing me offer? 
I get a lot of questions about cleaning burs and abrasives to extend the life of the tool and to make them work more efficiently.  Cleaning hand files is also important - any cutting tool will do a better job if it is not plugged up with residue. 

For cleaning burs, I recommend soaking them in a solvent if they are heavily clogged  and then brushing the residue away with a brass toothbrush. For a quick clean, you can run the bur lightly over the brass brush while the tool is spinning, but wear eye protection and use low speed to prevent flying brass particles.  This same brass toothbrush is what you want to use for cleaning small diamond or steel riffler files.    For more information on cleaning burs, check out the Tip of the Month in the October 2015 issue of the newsletter.
Readers Mailbag:
Hi Bonnie,  !  I love your gourds and need to get better on carving.  Here’s a picture of one I just finished.  My wife did the bead work and polymer clay face.   Ken Vining
Back in Stock -  Thunder drum springs with bead on one end - sold individually or in discounted packs of 5.  In addition, you can find Kalimba (thumb piano) kits and drum skins on the Musical Supplies page.
"Gourds with Southwestern Motifs" - Revised Edition with added Filigree Carving chapter and updated Gallery.
The book has changed a bit - including a new lower cover price!  Also, it now has an added "Filigree Carving" chapter, and an updated gallery section with newer work.  (The original edition received nothing but 5 star reviews on Amazon.)  Gourds with Southwestern Motifs on
NEW:  Single engraving burs on the carving burs page

Applicator Bottles with 10 tips are great for dyes and glues  On the Tools page
Feature:  Video Review - Gunstock Carving by Roger Wolford

Many of you carve gourds, but there are gourd carvers who came from other mediums such as wood, eggs or glass.  This is a common crossover because the tools and skills used for these arts often are very similar.  Roger Wolford specializes in using high speed air tools (basically dental drill types) to carve wood, antler and gourds. 
I recently got a copy of Roger's new digital video "Gunstock Carving - Whitetail Deer Scene" on flash drive format.  It was easy to insert it into a USB port in my Windows 10 based desktop computer and immediately open and watch it.  The video is presented in MP4 format; I don't know if it works on every computer or laptop as easily as it did on mine.  It includes a PDF file that includes color reference photos, patterns and drawings, pictures of the dental and other burs he recommends, and some photos of the work in progress.  The video is 90 minutes long, and takes you from a plain gunstock through the various stages of carving and finishing. 

Roger uses a Vortex brand air tool as well as a micromotor tool for the demonstration, but you could do this project with other brands of air tools or with a micromotor or a dremel tool.  While the basic pattern, tips and how-to info are geared towards carving on wood, the material can be modified a bit to work on gourds or using other tools.  One item he mentions that I have not used is wood bleach.  It would be interesting to experiment with this on gourd surfaces.

The design is a fairly basic relief carving and the principles of carving are well illustrated. You may choose to use different burs than those shown; bur choice often depends on personal preferences.  The USB video is available for $19.95 at

Spotlight on the Metals page: Copper conchos include 1" Celtic, Flower, and Rope Edge designs as  well as a small  (5/*8") Rope Edge.  Also, many sizes and colors of decorative studs at a very low price!  On the Metals page.
Best of Show
People's Choice
Update:  For the past several years, rotary chisel burs have been unavailable because the manufacturer was not producing them.  The company is now under new management and is making them again.  They no longer wholesale to suppliers, so to order you must visit*For the Cholla Carving project shown here, you need the 1/8" shank "D" profile rotary chisel. The project instructions are available on the Project Packets page.

NOTE:  I will be teaching and will not be shipping from March 21st - March 30th.  Orders placed during this time will be shipped in the order they were received as quickly as possible starting on March 31st.  Thank you for your patience during this time.

To clean sanding tools such as disc sanders, belt sanders, and drum sanders, use a rubberized cleaning block.  Turn on the sanding tool and hold the spinning abrasive surface firmly against the cleaning block. The rubbery surface will lift out much of the embedded sanding dust and extend the life of the abrasive surface greatly.  NOTE: DO NOT use a rubberized abrasive cleaner on carving burs!  The cutting teeth of carving burs will grind up the block and/or gum up the burs!

Tip: to save time, I keep 2 or more drum sanders in my carving bur box.  That way, I can load each one with a different grit and not have to change the band when I want to switch to a finer or coarser grit.  If you do have to change the band, try flipping the band end for end, because often one end is still good when the other has worn out.

It's difficult to change a band on astandard drum sander (above right photo) when using a micromotor tool, as there is no way to lock the handpiece. For those, you have to grab the sander shaft in a pair of pliers while changing the band. Instead, Dremel now makes an EZ pop-up head drum sander which makes changing bands much easier. (lower right photo)
Turn the tool on and hold the spinning abrasive surface against the cleaning block.