It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet.... As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye... ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. ~Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Time to Create Some Gourd Art
I thought it would be interesting, in a messy sort of way, to show all of you how a gourd becomes a piece of art. I have quite a few gourds that are dry, beautiful and ready to work with. I did not create anything with these gourds last year. My efforts were not focused in this direction.
I didn't grow these beautiful gourds. A friend grows them. She lives down in the valley and has a farm where she grows and nurtures gourds.., among other things. They grow much better down there. I would guess it's the soil, maybe the special care she gives them and the longer summer. I'm not sure. I only know that she grows the best thick, hard shelled gourds in the Central Valley.
So, with this gourd above, I wanted to show you how it was cleaned and dried last year. I soaked it in warm soapy water with a little bleach in the water. I don't have a picture of it before I started washing it but it was a mess.., lots of mildew and dirt. After I let it soak for an hour with a wet soapy towel over it, I use a copper scrubber on it and cleaned all the white skin, mildew and dirt off. Sometimes this is very physical. You have to remove it all without scratching the gourd or damaging the stem. Frequently you need a wire brush to get around the stem and some of the rough spots. There will be blemishes and imperfections that will not wash off. These are caused by bugs, mold and sitting on the ground while growing. These are part of the "character" of this gourd. I will work with these "flaws" and include them in the design.
Now, after sitting for a year on my porch, it's ready for creating" something beautiful.
I could use any of these gourds. They are cleaned and completely dry. They all have possibilities. Some are so beautiful, like the large one above, that I may never do anything with it. It's a work of art just the way it is. I love the stem and the "scars" on the bottom of it. I have had this gourd for two years and I never feel the urge to decorate it. I think this one is beautiful just the way it is.
These three little gourds are the ones that my grandson planted last summer. They are still drying in the living room window. I find it interesting that they are drying so differently. The one in front, on the left, is dry and ready to decorate. The one on the right doesn't rattle yet, so it's not completely dry, even though it looks like it is. The green one (in back) is still heavy and has a small place that's starting to turn brown. Interesting! They were all picked at the same time and yet look how different the drying process is. I will wait until next Fall to let the Bean paint these. There are his and he will be able to say that he planted them, grew them and decorated them himself. I hope he lets Baby Bean have one. What fun that will be.
So I must go and start working on this first gourd of the New Year. If you come up with any ideas about my new "work in progress", I would love to hear from you. Ultimately, "the gourd will tell me what it wants to be" and I will move forward with it. I love the starting. I guess it's what every artist means when they talk about the "creative process". Here we go....