Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gourd Basics

I'm sending a couple raw gourds to a gentleman tomorrow and he's never worked on gourds before. I thought this may be a good opportunity to do a little gourd clean-along with some pictures I took a few months ago.

We buy our gourds from Welburn Gourd Farm in Temecula, CA. While it is a little bit of a drive from Anaheim, we're close enough to go to the farm so we can pick and choose exactly what we want. Saves on shipping bulky gourds, too.
While the farm has both cleaned and uncleaned gourds available, we typically save money by shopping the uncleaned gourds. They're so easy to clean that it seems silly to pay to have it done.

Here's a bottle gourd I'm going to be working on. It looks pretty ugly now, and it will look worse once I get it wet, but that will change quickly.

The easiest thing we've found to clean the gourds is an inexpensive steel scrubbing pad and plain water. How is that for a big difference?

For a simple cut to remove the top I like these coping saws. The teeth are fine enough that they don't chip the gourd. For a larger cut, say around the big end, we use mini hobby saw blades that fit in a wood handle.

Cleaning out the seeds and pith can be a challenge without some tools to get down inside the gourd. I bought some mild steel rod at the hardware store, heated it up red hot in a propane torch, and then flattened the end with a hammer to make these two tools. The ends has been sharpened with a file. Two different angles can get just about anywhere inside the gourd. You can't see it in the picture but each of these has a simple wood handle. For smaller pieces like jewelry gourds I made a miniature set of these scrapers. These tools have saved us countless hours of frustration when cleaning gourds.
Man, I've got fat fingers.

Here's the crud you're trying to remove. It's a mixture of seeds and pith and whatever else takes up the inside of a gourd.

Once the inside is all scraped out and clean a 4-in-1 rasp works well to level off the top edge and generally clean up the inside of the neck.

That's pretty much the basics: Clean the outside, clean the inside, and then decorate in whatever manner suits your fancy.


PS, Fayme just reminded me about this: some individuals can have an allergic or an allergic-like reaction to dust from the inside of the gourd when it is cut open or when cleaning it out. For safety sake, use an inexpensive dust mask so you won't have any difficulties with this. If you choose to not use a dust mask, and you start tasting the gourd in the back of your throat, stop what you are doing immediately and get a mask. Not every gourd I work on affects me in this manner, but if I taste the gourd and ignore it, I will have absolutely miserable sinuses for a few days.
Note that this is only when first opening the gourd and when cleaning out the interior. Once you get all the junk cleaned out this is no longer an issue.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


This may seem like a big post with a lot of pictures but I am moving over many of these from Greenman Archery where they were originally posted. There is also new work to put up that hasn't been seen before.
If you're interested in any of these just let me know.
Thanks for looking!

This is the biggest drum I've made to date. This drum stands approximately 17" tall x 12 1/2" wide. It's got a great booming voice and is just begging to be part of a drum circle, $150.

This drum has a spiral weave design done with pyrography and then stained with muted colors. This drum is a little quieter than the previous one but still has a good rich voice. Approximately 12" tall x 10 1/2" wide, $50.

The blue/green colors on this drum are really nice. Finished with a high gloss it almost looks like pottery. It stands about 11" tall x 10" wide, $75.

This water bottle gourd is lined with beeswax so the water tastes slightly like honey. It is not suited to hot liquids like tea or coffee. Size is about 8 1/2" tall x 5 1/2" wide, $50.

Dreamsnake is about 7" tall x 4 1/2" wide. It would make a beautiful addition to any colorful decor, or add color to a drab one! $40 SOLD

The River at the End of the World is about 2 1/2" tall x 5 1/2" wide. A somewhat whimsical piece that I rather enjoy looking at, $20.

The Pirate's Lament is about 9" tall x 6 1/4" wide, holds 1/2 gallon, and is lined with brewer's pitch to make it suitable for any liquid. The designs burned into the skin of the gourd show the flags of three famous pirates: Blackbeard, Stede Bonnet, and John Rackham. The lanyard is 7-strand French sennit layed under a 5-strand, 3-pass Turk's head, $40.
It’s a sad thing, it is.
Sad to be a pirate on the beach.
With no ship to call home, no berth of me own.
No horizon to beckon the eyes.
I sailed with the best:
Stede Bonnet, John Rackham, and the worst of all, Edward Teach, known to you as Blackbeard.
My luck ran out. When I lost a leg I took the King’s Pardon.
Better to be a crippled former pirate remembering the days that were than a one-legged corpse floating on the tide.
Now I sit in the sand and drink to stay drunk.
When I’m drunk I remember the glory. I remember the thrill of the chase, the blue sea and the blue sky.
I remember the willing wenches in the taverns of Port Royal, and the gold… I remember the gold.
When I’m sober I see only the one shoe before me in the sand.
So I sip grog from this gourd to stay on that smooth edge of drunk. The smooth edge where the one lonely shoe fades into the blue sea and the glitter of gold coins.

My Heart is Locked for You is 3 1/2" high and 5" in diameter, $50.
The heart on the lid is imitation gold leaf outlined by acrylic paint. The body of the gourd has been stained with leather dye and the whole thing has been sealed with lacquer.
The lid is fastened down by 4 brass straps. I guess you could unscrew the straps to find out what is inside the heart... but then the heart wouldn't be locked any longer.
And that's the point: My Heart is Locked for You.

Before you ask... yes, there is something inside the heart. And, no, I will not tell anyone what it is.

This canteen is pyrographed on both sides and is lined with brewer's pitch. It stands about 4 1/2" tall x 7" wide, laying down, of course. The leather band around the rim will let you use the leather thongs to fasten it to whatever shoulder strap you wish, $40.

Gourd bowls, the yellow one and the small green bowl are lined with a food safe epoxy and can have any type of food in them, wet or dry. The blue bowl has a different finish that should only be used for dry foods such as peanuts or candy. The yellow bowl is about 4" tall x 10" wide, $30. Blue bowl approx. 3" tall x 10 1/2" wide, $30. The small bowl is about 1 7/8" tall x 3 3/34" wide, $15.

She Comes To Me in the Moonlight, approximately 7" tall x 4 1/2" wide. The design shows the Goddess at the full moon position and additional moon phases around the neck of the gourd. This would be great on an altar, much better than a pewter wizard holding a clear marble... not that there is anything wrong with pewter wizards, $40.

This drum has a gold leaf band around the base that gives it just the right amount of color. Approximately 7 1/2" tall x 6" wide, this drum has a wonderful voice for being so small, $40.

Thanks for looking!
Prices do not include shipping charges, which are charged at actual cost.
If you wish to purchase a piece, have questions about any of these pieces, or wish for additional pictures, just let me know.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Blog!

This is a brand new blog. No posts yet but keep looking, I'll have some up soon.

Thanks for looking!