Over centuries, the fruits have been used to create musical instruments, smoking pipes, water vessels, jewelry, and serving ware, among other things.
Master Gardener Pam Niehues painted her gooseneck gourd with a witch’s face as a Halloween decoration, while fellow Master Gardener Gerry Hernandez kept hers the original earth tones and said she intends to adorn it with twine and beads for an earthy home decor.
“It’s a natural product you can do art with,” said Hernandez, “As gardeners, we love natural products.”
Hernandez always encourages people from the group to take the seeds home and grow gourds the next year.
Patrons at the event were given expertise advice from guests Barbara Rippetoe and her daughter Maryland Fallon, members of gourd artist associations and the American Gourd Society. The mother and daughter team estimated that they have been decorating gourds for over 20 years and are internationally known for their passion.
The tools of the trade range from items you would purchase at an art supply store, but other unconventional instruments were utilized to get through the hardened flesh of the fruit. Artists utilized power tools, cosmetic sponges, shoe polish, scouring pads, and other sundry items to create their decorative or functional gourd.
The versatility was not limited to the medium but also to the range of ability for the artists present. Local Toni Ann Moss created a birdhouse using stencils to reflect her garden, while her daughter Kennedy struggled to decide if her gourd would better serve as a bear or a mouse. Both came to create but also found an enjoyable activity that they were able to bond over.
“There’s been a couple of people here that are real artists,” said Hernandez, “They’ve done some beautiful things.”
Hernandez said the event has been offered for at least four years and she is confident that it will be offered again next fall. Hernandez also pointed out that last year’s workshop produced a piece that was on display in the county fair. ■