I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Good Way to Start the Day.., and the Gourd Project

I love bacon and eggs for breakfast but I try to have a protein smoothie once a day, either at breakfast or lunch. I use orange juice (I like OJ better than milk with fruit), plain (Nancy's nonfat is the best) yogurt, half a banana, blueberries, strawberries and a scoop of protein powder. The fruit varies depending on what I have on the sink counter or in the freezer. I don't' use ice if I'm using frozen fruit. If I have this drink for breakfast it fills me up so well that I don't think about eating anything else until lunch (sometimes longer)
and it's sooo good for me.After breakfast I decided to have a talk with THE GOURD...

Well, look what we have here. The gourd with potential...
It's got such interesting markings on it but it's not saying anything to me. One side is too light and the other side is too dark. I don't see a face, or a pattern. I like the dark section but I'm not sure I want that side to be the focal point. Should I open this gourd up and make it a bowl?.., a basket?,.., or keep it the way it is and add a clay face.., and mosses, leaves or dried things from my hikes in the woods. I just don't know yet.
So I decided that because this gourd was not telling me what to do, I would try to even out the light and dark places by rubbing some leather dye into it. I used brown, green and rose( yes, rose) colored dye and rubbed each in with a clean cloth. First, the brown dye (as a good base) but it brought out the markings too much. I tried to apply more in the light spots and less over the dark areas.Then I rubbed in the green dye and this added a beautiful affect; almost like it hadn't completely dried yet. After I wiped it dry I knew it needed something else. I have this rose colored dye that I never use for anything. I'm not sure why I bought the rose color. It's too "fufu" for serious gourds. They don't like blues and pinks. I have never used a blue or pink color on a gourd that I didn't have to cover with a different color afterwards, so unless I'm painting one with acrylics for an ornament or jewelry, I tend to stay clear of pastel dyes or paints.But, I decided to rub a small amount of this rose dye into the gourd and guess what? It added a warmer, more natural look to the finish. Very interesting. Sometimes you just have to experiment with finishes. If you're not sure and don't want to really mess up a piece you can try the dyes on a broken fragments of gourd..., but remember that each gourd is different and the same finish might come out differently on different gourd skins. Also, these dyes come with an applicator which I never use unless I want to cover the gourd completely and hide the texture. These dyes are very opaque if applied with an applicator and, once dry, they will not rubbed off. The important thing to remember is that dyes are messy, strong smelling and permanent. You need to work with them in a well- ventilated place, wear plastic gloves, old clothes, OLD SHOES and a mask.

I learned my lesson a few years ago. I wanted to cover a small gourd with red dye. It was going to be a Christmas ornament. I went out into the garage with my good clothes on and my black Berkenstocks. Yea... and said to myself. "This will only take a minute. Why should I change into my old stuff. I will be careful." FAMOUS LAST WORDS.I opened the dye bottle, grabbed a rag. and the corner of the rag caught the bottle , tipped it over and off the workbench. It hit the floor and splattered all over my good work clothes and my beautiful black Berkie's.Folks.., there is no redemption for this. Everything within a good five feet was splattered with RED DYE and my wonderful, expensive investment for my, then, aching feet were ruined. I rubbed the dye off of those shoes as fast as I could but they are now my around the farm "gardening shoes" ( and pants) and I learned a valuable lesson about working with leather dyes. By the way.., the concrete floor ,from then on, looked like I had murdered something in front of my workbench . The stain never came out. Now, I have an old rug covering up most of the stain so you can't see the evidence of my stupidity. That was a hard lesson to learn.

So, the gourd looks really nice. I love the finish. It matches a Fall candle I have on the buffet. I sanded it just a bit with a very fine, dry sanding sponge to give it a rustic, softer look. I don't know what's next. I'm pouring over some good Gourd books for ideas and waiting for the gourd to tell me something. Sometimes this takes a while, but I want to have it finished by the 11th of February for our next gourd meeting, so I hope it starts talking soon.


  1. that gourd looks like an old, soft, worn-leather handbag...it lovely. I hope it stays quiet and you keep it like that! have a good weekend, keep dry...jj

  2. Red floors and talking gourds. That's either the sign of an artist at work or slasher movie. Luckily, knowing you, it's the former.

    I think what you've got so far is beautiful. I hate it when my projects don't talk to me. Maybe something valentine-ish will come from it? Whatever it is, please post it!

  3. The gourd looks real good so far. Hope it will talk to you soon so you can get busy and we can see the finished project. Have a great day. Madeline

  4. Red splattered black Berkies, hmmmmm. Red LEATHER dye, black LEATHER shoes, hmmmmm. Why not try it, what can it hurt now? Even if you don't like the color, at least it will be a uniform shade. After it's dried (pause, I'll tell you why in a minute) maybe you can re-dye with black.
    Wow, that was interesting-----the pause was because just as I was typing, it became a deja vu experience. I haven't had one of those for a long time.
    Yes, the gourd is a beautiful color. I'm looking forward to seeing the message it gives you. ~Dawn

  5. Your accident with the dye sounds exactly like something I would do,LOL.
    Your gourd is taking on it's personality, talking to you, but I suspect that gourds, like quilts are not always very voluble so it may take a while.
    I have had a quilt remain mute for months, just sitting looking at me, before it says a thing, then as I begin the quilting it just comes pouring out all at once & I get the entire picture!


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