Photo by M.Mesplé JC Gourd 2011
Gourd number 1 was to become a resident of Oregon. I never know what design I will use when I begin to play with a gourd. It is when I am holding and turning the gourd round and round in my hands that I begin to get a feel for and a vision of how the gourd will look. In addition to getting a feel for a design that may grace the gourd I also toy with the thought of whether the gourd will be left intact or if I will top it creating a bowl. The Oregon gourd was fated to be a bowl as are many of my gourds. I love bowls and it shows in my art.
Photo by M.Mesplé 2011 JC Gourd
I begin by drawing what I visualize onto the gourd using a pencil and then I go over the pencil with a burning tool burning the design into the gourd's skin. Burning the gourd can be a bit tricky because the surface of a gourd can vary so much from spot to spot. I can be burning the design on one spot and it will take several seconds to make a mark and within 2 seconds and an 1/8th of an inch later and the searing hot tool can burn right through the skin into the pulp! It takes practice to develop a feel for burning gourds. In the image above I am doing what I call the second burn. The first burn barely scorches the gourd while the second and third burnings take the design deeper.
Photo by M.Mesplé JC gourd
I love the smell of burning gourds but the smoke can be a bit toxic so I control myself in wanting to breathe in the wonderful smell of burnt gourd! As I burn I blow onto the gourd continuously keeping the stream of smoke away from my face. I look like I am trying to whistle with never any tunes coming from my mouth. The image above shows the gourd burnt and ready for paint.
Photo by M.Mespl´JC gourd
Deciding on color is very hard and also I always have to keep in mind that the natural color of the gourd changes the color of the paint I choose! I can pick out a nice blue paint and if I put it on like a glaze it will look more green than blue. Here, in the image above, I have decided to color the gourd using leather dye. One of the fun aspects about working with gourds is you are not pinned to using only traditional paints to dress your gourds up. I use leather dye, acrylics, alkyds, permanent markers and even beet juice.
Photo by M.Mesplé JC gourd
Oregon bound gourd bowl complete! The inside is dyed with leather dye also and although it looks purple the bottle said it was blue! Always a surprise with color so one needs to have an open creative mind and be accepting. When I choose to use very opaque paints the natural color of the gourd is not that much of a factor in the outcome but still, I do find I need to do several coats. Also, once I have completed a piece of gourd art I seal it with a lacquer to protect the paint and hopefully prolong the life of the artwork. Gourds are big seed pods and respond to nature like they were created to do. If you put a gourd outside it will crack open so, it is never a good idea to keep gourd art outside.
Next up ~ gourd number 2 in the great gourd give away!