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:
"Swept Ashore"
Having fun with more contemporary designs.  This piece explores ocean patterns and the rusted metal signifies ships lost at sea.  Carved, acrylic paints, rusted nails, lacquer.

*Check out the Classes page for a new gourd class based on this and other recent work.
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Printable PDF File
Newsletter Index - article and tip index from all the past newsletters
Newsletter Index
NOTE:  After many years and despite having 6000 members, we closed down the Gourd Art Enthusiasts website in July due to low useage.  Unfortunately, the cost of the webhosting fees and the advent of Facebook gourd groups made it unrealistic to continue. I want to personally thank each and every one of you that contributed photos and content over the years. 
*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 from the past 10 years!  Articles and Tips are indexed.
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 September issue of the Arizona Gourds newsletter! 
Photos and design copyright © 2017 by Bonnie Gibson and  may not be used without express written permission.
Featured Books:

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Class updates

Note:  September New Mexico classes have been cancelled.  If you are in NM, and still want to attend classes, it's not that far to head to Colorado Springs! (see below)

On September 20-22nd, I will be offering a 3 day workshop at the home of Dawn Healy in Colorado Springs, CO.  Classes include Basic Power carving, Spiral Carving, and Faux Leather Tooling (NOTE: For students that have already taken these classes, I will offer some more advanced techniques for you try)  More details about the classes are on the classes page.  I don't get to the midwest very often, so you you are in the surrounding states you may want to consider this workshop.  For more information, contact Dawn Healy at

3 day gourd retreat in Page, Arizona October 21st - 23rd OR Oct 25 -27th.  Please contact Marcia Krickhahn at to register. Retreat will be a hummingbird gourd project and the Native Treasures gourd project, more details about the classes are on the classes page.  NOTE: This is an all inclusive retreat with lodging, food, gourds and instruction for an extremely low package price.

Enter your email address into the text box, and hit the submit button to join the class updates notification list.
Summer is coming to a close for most of you, and some of you may be awaiting the first frost and seeing how many of your gourds will survive when the gourd vines die back.  Here in Arizona, it is still plenty warm, and I have been taking advantage of some free time to work on my own gourd projects.  September will be time to head out for some classes in Colorado Springs - and to enjoy some cooler weather.

I have enjoyed seeing photos from some of the recent gourd festivals.  It reminds me of the first two festivals I attended in the late 90's.  It is simply amazing how far our hobby has progressed in the last 20 years.  We are blessed with a lot of talented artists who create some truly fine art, and I am happy to share some of that work in the newsletter. 
Would you like your art to be featured?  We add newsletter features on artists, space permitting.
Sale!  During September, carving drill are on sale! Find them on the Carving Burs page.  These won't clog up and have a super fine tip for detail cutting and carving.

New to the website - Copper and Peacock variegated metallic hematite rondelle beads. These have a pretty good sized hole and you get a lot on each 16" strand.  On the Inlay Supplies Page.

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:  The Gourd Art of Ryan Armstrong

This month, please enjoy seeing the gourd art creations of Ryan Armstrong. Ryan lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He started carving and painting gourds a few years ago when a friend of his from West Virginia sent him 3 gourds that she had grown.  Because she enjoyed Ryan's creations in other mediums, she was curious to see what he could do with them. 

Ryan says, "I carve wood, bone and pipestone, and I became hooked on carving the gourds right away!  Art is the main gift and motivation  in my life, no matter what it is. It is something from within that continually gives me inspiration and faith. I've never had any formal education or classes other than in school. It has just always been who I am since the beginning, and I had some creative family and mentors to get me more excited.  Growing up, I had nothing but my imaginations to play with, but my parents provided me with materials and books and records - so I was able to focus on that.  Nature has always been a constant in my life, encoraged by family.  My creations revere nature, Indigenous Cultures, psychedelia, ancient civilization, tribal life and fractals.  I love earth tones and organic shapes but also vibrant bright colors and strange themes and patterns. I use spirals in a lot of my art as a recurring theme. I love the feel of them,the universal pattern,the connection to the Ancient Ones.  I love working with gourds as an organic medium and the entire process from seed to finished art.  I love the smell,when wet or burnt ,the texture and patterns, so much can be experimented on gourds.  The desert is one of my favorite  subjects, especially the Colorado Plateau and Pueblo culture.  Each gourd is so unique, I'm always excited to hold the finished design and to realize it all started with a seed of hope."
Find Ryan under  "soulboardart" on Instagram, RAArtstrong Creations on Facebook, or email him at

Feature: The Equine Gourd Art of Diane Frederick

In May, I enjoyed having Diane Frederick and her husband in my carving classes in Washington.  Diane's special passion is for carving equine themed gourds.  She shared these photos of her carvings in progress and I think you can appreciate the time and skill that went into carving these designs!  Congratulations on some beautiful work!
Tip of the Month:  Diamond Burs - Great Sanding Tools!

Readers Mailbag:

Hi Bonnie,  I don't know what possessed me!!!??  I am working on the flower now. Madonna Watermon - Missouri

Note: Madonna took classes from me during 3 Missouri retreats, and her skill has improved exponentially over the years.  She even won a Best of Show award at the Missouri Gourd Festival this year.  As an instructor, it is extremely gratifying to see a former student doing such great work! I'll look forward to seeing this piece completed.

When sandpaper just doesn't do the job, and files, rifflers and sanding sticks aren't the answer either, you may still have a great tool for sanding in your bur box!

I use diamond burs for sanding borders, in tight areas where other tools won't reach, and on flat backgrounds or for setting stones. This YouTube video is just an example of using a diamond bur in a way you may not have imagined; this shows how to inset cabochons quickly and precisely using diamond burs.  For sanding borders and edges, I use a cylinder or inverted cone shape, for cleaning fuzzies out of filigree holes, I use long pointed shapes.  You don't always need power tools to use these burs - sometimes I will just clamp a diamond bur into a pin vise, and use the tool as a hand sander. (I prefer the keyless chuck pin vise as it is easier to change burs.)

NOTE: Diamond burs will clog very easily when used on gourd skin or on hard gourds such as apples and cannonballs.  Do NOT use diamond burs on the skin or on hard gourds unless you are prepared to purchase new burs frequently.  These burs have such fine grit that they just can't be cleaned easily, especially when they come in contact with the "resin" in a hard gourd (or glue, filler, gourd skin, or any other similar surface).

Need more info on the different types of carving burs?  Check out the Carving Burs tutorial  on the Project Packets 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 -  The new "Native Treasures" Project Packet is now available.  Check it and all our other tutorial packets on the Project Packets page.
New - Fetish Bear and Feather dangles - with hanging loop.  3 different sizes available. On the Earrings and More page.
New - Turquoise colored Bone Beads. 
Bone beads are great because they have a much larger hole for stringing than traditional stone beads.  the hole on these is large enough to use over leather cord.  On the Bone Beads and Embellishments page
Back in Stock - 6 and 12" extenders and finishing sander sets - great for smoothing out the inside of your gourd for a professional finished appearance!  On the Tools page.
Thought for the day!
American Craft Week is October 6-15th. 
I am honored to be selected as a "Second Acts" winner. This recognizes artists who started their career in an unrelated field and achieved professional success in fine crafts. You can read more here:
The winners will be showcased in the Fall issue of the "Handmade Business" magazine.
Readers Mailbag:

Hi Bonnie,  Received my order today, and just wanted to thank you for the surprise in the package! It is always fun when you get something unexpected! I really do need this wire bur cleaning brush!  Thank you again.  Judy Scott - Louisiana

Note: When shipping costs are low, I always try to send some free merchandise and/or a shipping rebate.  I want you to be satisfied with your purchase!

Readers Mailbag:

Hi Bonnie,  It's been a while since the Temecula retreat, but I had a lot of fun learning new things.  I can't tell you how great it is to be in one of your classes..... you have so much to give.  I always come away from your classes with so many ideas.  The one question I carry with me is something I heard you ask:  Are you happy with it?  That has become my standard.  When I'm happy, I know I am done with the gourd!
Can't wait to take your next class!  Marie Herman - CA

Diane stands with her award winning art - you can see that this is a very large gourd!
New - $2 sets of 3 Liner or Detail Brushes! On the Tools page.