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oh my Gourd

February 25, 2013

A week or so ago I posted on Facebook searching for Asker containers from Ikea. They’re absolutely NO WHERE to be found, except in the houses of many of my friends and in Singapore of course. I wanted them (desperately) for my new studio, to hang from my pegboard, and to hold pens/pencils/etc. So, in response to my plea, an amazing artist friend here in Bloomington suggested I use something natural, with the same basic organic shape as the Asker jars : gourds.

Can I tell you just how stinking genius this was!? I NEVER in a million years would have thought of using gourds! It’s so wonderful to be surrounded by such a creative group of acquaintances and friends in this community, I just, well, I can’t express that enough these days. Anyway – said artist offered me nearly a dozen of gourds in her possession and I rushed over!

See, evidently the drying process of gourds is pretty intense. These were already dried out and ready for me to start work on – so I can’t help you with that part (try this tutorial here), but I can give you some basic steps to create these amazing little jars/containers!

    1. When you get the gourds they’re going to be filthy. Filthy I tell you. Covered in who knows what. I was given a nice gentle scrubbing sponge with the gourds and instructed to let them soak in warm/soapy water, and then scrub lightly. And so, indeed, I share that same advice with you. I was impatient and didn’t let the first few soak as much as I could have, but I’ll tell you, the longer you soak them, the easier the gunk is to come off. So, soak in warm soapy water, then go at it with a sponge. (see photos bottom right, and bottom center for before and after)
    2. After that it was time to take to the Dremel. I read another tutorial that said you could use an Exacto or some such (and you probably could as they are pretty thin) but I prefer using the Dremel tool as it’s faster, more precise, and quite fun to use. So, draw a little pencil line around the top of your gourd and use your Dremel to cut the top off, just like you’re carving a pumpkin. Also, drill a small hole in the side if you’re planning on hanging them like I have. (bottom left photo)
    3. Now, again, like a pumpkin, there’s going to be dried seeds and innards left inside the little fellas. I learned eventually to wet the insides just a wee bit, then if you stuck your hand in just the right place you could basically get the entire inside out in one felse swoop. But, basically, clean em out. Be gentle, they aren’t as strong as pumpkins.
    4. I let them dry after this, and then racked my brain on how to make them as beautiful as they were when wet (once dry they just weren’t as dynamic in color) and how to make them a wee bit stronger.
    5. Shoe polish and mod podge. I’m sure there are more natural products to use for this last step, but I was running on steam at this point and really wanted to get them done. So, I took to the natural shoe polish and sealed with mod podge both inside and out (and then inside again and again with the mod podge) and voila!! (top photo)

I really can’t be happier with these gourds. I have plans to make the remaining ones into planters of succulents if I can pull that off. They are just such a perfect shape, and color with the addition of the shoe polish. Much prettier, in the end, than those silly Ikea things would have been!

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 25, 2013 11:02 am

    my mom used to be obsessed with gourds. one time she even took me to a gourd show which is like a craft fair of everything imaginable made out of gourds and lots of gourds of different types and sizes available for purchase to make things out of just like you did. she used to make all kinds of stuff like flower pots and painted gourd santas and who knows what else. this was probably 12-15 years ago that she had her gourd obsession, but i bet if you looked you could probably find that gourd show which travels around city to city. I think she used to use a clear shellac spray on her finished gourds to make them nice and shiny and you can buy it at the hardware store.

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