I was first introduced to gourds on a family vacation when I attended the Ohio Gourd Society’s festival in 1999. I signed up for two workshops with Jayne Stanley. I bought five gourds at the festival and a gourd crafting book (The Complete Book of Gourd Craft by Ginger Summit and Jim Widess).
Living in Maryland, there was little activity in gourds, i.e., few crafters, no societies. It was through the American Gourd Society’s website that I found local gourd growers and tips about crafting gourds. I drove to the closest gourd festivals in North Carolina and Florida for additional workshops and supplies. Twelve years later I am now teaching at state gourd festivals and selling my hand-crafted gourds at regional craft shows.
My earliest gourds were simple birdhouses and gourd bowls with embellished rims. As my skills improved, so did my appreciation of the natural gourd. I have tried to enhance the gourd without hiding its natural shape and beauty.
Today, I create decorative and functional bowls and birdhouses, as well as whimsical seasonal items. Starting with a dried gourd, I cut or carve designs inspired by nature. For color, I use dyes or inks that not only penetrate the gourd surface, but also enhance the fundamental gourd patterns. Many of my gourds are embellished with natural materials such as stone beads, pods and feathers.
In the last two years, I have begun incorporating my weaving skills into creating gourd baskets. My weaving materials include reeds, seagrass, pine needles and yarns that I dye using multiple colors.
I am fortunate to have discovered a craft for which I have a personal passion. Today I volunteer and teach gourd workshops in the 4-H program as a way to share my zeal for gourd crafting with future artisans.