How can you craft with gourds? Ever wanted to make a birdhouse, a container, or just anything out of a gourd. This is the process I use to make my gourdy creations. I'm sure there are lots of other ways of doing it, but this is just how my process evolved over time and after some trial and error.
1. First you must grow lots and lots of gourds in your garden! Pick them all. Hopefully you had a lot of nice big ones. You can also cheat this step and buy some from a local farmer's market or a nearby gourd enthusiast.
2. Throw all your gourds in a garage, barn, or attic. I try to lay them out so they are not touching. Also, I don't know if this happens to everyone, but everytime I have left them on concrete they go bad on me. I recomend laying them on a wood surface. In my barn they are on straw but that didn't seem to cause any problems.
3. WAIT! This is the hard part for me. Your gourds will be ready in about a year. They will dry out and the skin on the outside will get all funky. It may even look a little moldy, as long as it isn't leaking or juicy, the gourd is probably fine.
4. Now the messy part - cleaning the funk off of the gourd.
I usually do this step outside. I get a big bucket or an empty tote and clean the gourds outside by the hydrant. Today it was chilly and my toddler kept wanting to "help" so I decided to do this in the kitchen sink. I suppose my sink needed a good bleaching anyway.
I have used lots of different types of brushes and scrubbers, but a good old SOS pad seems to do the best for me.
Scrub and scrub and scrub....depending on the gourd and how it dried, the skin can come right off or it can be really stubborn. I am doing a swan gourd in this picture and they are not usually too bad, it is just hard to get all the skin off of the neck.
When you finish the gourd should be nice and smooth. As it dries, it won't be shiney anymore and you will be able to see any rough spots you missed.
5. Now for the fun part - decorating your gourd. The tools I use are a woodburner, watercolor paints, a hole saw (if I am making a birdhouse), and clear acrylic spray of some sort (I'm not set on any particular brand, but I do like the glossy kind).
If I am making a birdhouse, I use the hole saw to cut the entrance first. The hole saw attaches to a power drill.
This way if you mess up or the hole doesn't go exactly where you intended, you aren't messing up your gourd. Same goes for a container, if I am cutting out a lid I do this first before decorating. I usually use the exacto blade attachment for my wood burner to cut out the lid.
I like to draw on my design first with pencil. Then you use the woodburner to burn the design. Gourds burn much easier than wood. It takes a little practice to get a nice even line. You can use different tips to make different designs, but I like the regular tip most wood burners come with.
When you finish burning your design, use a wet cloth or a baby wipe to clean off any leftover pencil lines. If I am going to add color this is when I do it. I use watercolors because I like for the natural patterns in the gourd to still show through.
The final step is to spray with the clear acrylic sealer (glossy). This step is important because it protects your gourds, seals in any paint, and makes it nice and shiney. I usually spray 2 to 3 coats letting the gourd dry well in between.
There are so many possibilities for gourds. Just have fun with them and you'll find lots of great crafts to make with gourds, gourds, and more gourds!