Tip of the Month:   Glycerine Pine Needles

Arizona Gourds
April updates from the desert southwest...
Welcome to the April issue of the Arizona Gourds newsletter! 
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Featured Books of the Month:

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You can use this Amazon search box link to find all kinds of books and other products.  I appreciate those of you that do so; Amazon purchases made through the links on this website help to support this site. 
The first book, Creating Gourd Birds, is by Sammie Crawford, aka "The Fairy Gourdmother". (A companion book on gourd birdhouses will be out later this year.) Sammie does interesting bird sculptures - and I hope to review this book soon.  If you want realistic birds, try The Art of Bird Sculpture.  This book is geared towards wood and clay artists, but it will provide inspiration if you want to create realistic looking bird sculptures.  Gourds + Fiber, the long awaited book from Jim Widess and Ginger Summit is finally out!  The Windows of your Mind, is a doodling techniques book by Fred Dunlap aka "The She-Fred" (guess her folks wanted a boy?). Fred is an avid member of the gourding community in Texas and online.  The last two books combine zentangle designs and clay techniques from polymer clay masters.  Sometimes looking at crafting books from artists in other media is a great way to come up with new ideas for gourds!
*Please visit the book page links shown at right to view collections of related  titles. Each topic includes a variety of suggested books about each subject.
Note:  Please check your spam folder near the end of each month and add our address to your "safe senders" list.  Many emails bounce each month due to spam blockers. 

If your email address changes, just sign up again with your new address - no need to email me the change, as I purge non-working addresses monthly.
Gourds Southwest Gourd Techniques & Projects from Simple to Sophisticated
by Bonnie Gibson

The hardcover edition is now OUT OF PRINT!
I still have some on hand, but supplies are limited.  Last chance to get a copy before they are gone!

What's new on the Arizona Gourds website? 
(Click on book cover for ordering information.)
All photos and designs copyright © 2011 by Bonnie Gibson and may not be used without express written permission.
Featured Gourd of the Month:

This is a small piece made from the top of a large bottle gourd.  It  was woodburned and then colored with colored pencils.   It was a fun experiment playing around a bit with different brands of colored pencils. 
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April Feature -  Gourd "Feathered Friends"
Feathered Friends was the recent theme for the AGS magazine crafting contest - and since I am the coordinator, I was fortunate enough to enjoy seeing all of the entries including those that weren't ultimately winners.  (Not a member of the American Gourd Society? You are missing out on 4 full color magazines as well as other membership benefits, all for $15 a year.  I encourage you to join at www.americangourdsociety.org.)  Last month, I asked people to submit photos for this article, and I think you'll enjoy seeing some of the creative ideas and beautiful artwork.


Printable PDF File
Newsletter Index - article and tip index from all the past newsletters
Newsletter Index
*Join the class updates list to receive advance notice of upcoming classes.  Get the news first and have the best chance for popular classes! 
The Gourd Art Enthusiasts site continues to grow!  We now have over 1750 members and almost 6000 gourd photos to inspire you.  Membership is free and easy.  The site also has state groups, event listings, a Q&A forum and a chat feature if you need an quick answer to a gourding question! 
Check out our two great new GAE T-Shirt designs ! 
UpdateGourd Classes

I'll be seeing some of you at the 3rd annual After Midnight Art Ranch Retreat in Sonoita, Arizona, April 15-19th.  There are still a few openings for Monday's Pottery Shard class -  For  registration info, please visit the After Midnight classes page, or contact our hostess, Linda Hanson

I will be teaching 3 days of classes in Visalia, California, May 6-8.   These classes will be held at the Garrison gourd farm.  Please check the Classes page for more information and dates.  If you would like to register, please contact Cecile Garrison at 559-740-6060, or ocecile123@yahoo.com   (The power carving session is full, but beginners are welcome at all of the classes - tool info is covered in each class.)  These are my only CA classes scheduled for this year.

I will be teaching at a gourd workshop/retreat in Kentucky August 4-7.  Classes are held indoors so no worries about the heat and humidity.  For those of you disappointed that I'm not teaching in PA this summer, this is a good alternative and my only trip to the eastern states this year. Contact Janet Barnett for more info.

I will be teaching 4 days of classes at the Texas Gourd Festival, October 13-16.  Classes will be posted on the Texas Gourd Society page on April 15th. 
*Want to see my listing of top gourd books?  Here is my  "Listmania" listing on Amazon
Robin gourd by Merril McHenry of Kansas

April showers bring gourd flowers (or at least melt the last of the ice and snow in the northern climates!)   Here in Tucson, I'm busy with classes, and I'm hoping to enjoy some balmy April days sitting outside and working on some gourd projects.  It's great spring weather that motivates all of us to try a new technique or project, or to take a beginner under your wing and get them excited about gourds!  Spring makes everyone feel excited and refreshed. 

*Do you have a tip or tutorial we may feature in a future newsletter?  Please contact me.
Back in Stock - Earth toned feathered cabochons. These cabochons are the largest of the feathered cabochons, measuring about 3 1/4" wide. The center cabochon looks almost like a fossil, and it is surrounded by shell heishi and natural colored beads for a very classy look.  They are  on the Special Embellishments page.

New - Lady Amherst Pelts.  These are #1 quality pelts.  They include the wings, but not the head or the tail.  Each pelt has lots of beautiful colored feathers, great for masks and feather woven gourds.  These are also on the Special Embellishments page.

Sale: While they last, drum necklace kits are on sale for 25% off. The kits include a precleaned and cut jewelry gourd (shape of gourd varies), a mini drum skin, waxed linen cord, instructions, and plenty of beads so you have a variety to choose from when assembling your necklace.  You'll find these on the Kits, Supplies and Displays page.  On the same page, look for medium (10") turntables - they are finally back in stock! 

NOTICE:  I have been informed that turquoise is going up drastically in price, in some case doubling, due to the closing of mines in China.  When the current stock is gone, many sizes will be discontinued and all prices will be higher.  Inlay Supplies Page
"Mama Goose"  by Ann Alexander of NM
Gourds by Susan Burton
Warbler Gourd by Jane Chandler of NC
Rustic bird bowl by Andrea Schneeberg of Wisconsin

Green Heron, Red Tail Hawks and Woodcock sculpture  by Phyllis Sickles of Arizona
Reader's Mailbox
Jennifer Stewart of California is a newbie to the gourd world, but has been an artist for a long time.  Check out this exquisite pryrography work on her first gourds.  Her website, www.artforanimallovers.com has photos of her other work - you can tell she is a true dog lover! 
Coming Soon:  May: What to do with all of those little gourds? Do you have photos of projects that are perfect for small gourds (jewelry gourds, ornamentals, banana gourds, anything 4" or under)  If so, please send your ideas and photos for the next issue to: bonnie@arizonagourds.com. (If you have a brief tutorial on your technique, we'd love to pass it along!) 
June:  Gourd Purses A lot of you make wonderful gourd purses - I'd love to showcase your work!  Please send photos of inside and out, construction methods, hinges, etc. Any tips on construction or lining you have to share are much appreciated. 
This recipe has been around for a while - reader Mary Owsley suggested that some our our subscribers might not have seen it yet.  She uses this method on her pine needles before weaving with them.  (I have to admit I've never tried it myself,  but now I want to give it a try!)
1 lb pine needles,  2 pints glycerin, water to cover

Large roaster that fits your oven – like the aluminum disposable ones and double them for extra strength.
Large tongs or something to turn the needles while in the hot bath.
Plates or bricks to hold the needles in the bath and heavy duty rubber gloves.

In the roaster pour the 2 pints of glycerin and add the pine needles.  Split the bundle in half and put the cell ends out with the tips overlapping slightly. Add enough water to cover the pine needles. Swish the mixture around a bit to help mix the glycerin and water and also to avoid having them burn in the oven. Set the plates/bricks over the needles to weigh them down.

Set oven temperature to 250 degrees.  Check in about an hour to see how they are doing.  You want a nice slow simmer.  If it is going too strong, reduce the temperature to 225 or 200 degrees. Allow to simmer for another hour. Check the pine needles again – while wearing your gloves!  This time remove the plates and flip the needles around to see that they are getting even heat and glycerin.  They should be about the same color through the whole bunch.  If not, stir them up, replace the plate/brick and leave them for one more hour in your oven.  When they are done, shut off the oven leaving the needles in the bath, in the oven and allow to soak overnight in the solution as they will pick up more glycerin as they cool and it is MUCH SAFER removing the needles from the bath when they are cool.

Pull the needles from the bath and put them into a bucket.  Rinse them very well with cool water until it runs clear.  Lay them out thinly on towels or grates in an area with good air flow.  Allow them to dry which can take up to a week or two depending on the humidity. Check them during the drying time and rotate them so that they don’t mold. If you put them into bundles before the water is gone, they will mold.

If you wish to dye the needles, add 2-3 packages of RIT dye to the glycerin before you add the pine needles.  Be sure to stir it up well after you add the water.
Signs of spring:  Mike and Michelle Thompson of Thompson Farms in Raleigh, Mississippi had a swarm of honeybees settle in a gourd birdhouse hanging in a crape myrtle tree in their front yard.  The bees evidently enjoy their home!  Michelle and Mike asked me to remind people of the 2nd Annual Mississippi Gourd Festival in Raleigh, MS, on Sept. 17-18. You can contact them at miketom1950@yahoo.com  for more information.

Eagle, kookaburra and owl gourds by Eliene St Romain of Australia

James Landis of Wisconsin made this goldfinch gourd purse as a gift for his wife.
Above:  "Coastal sunrise" and Below: Spirit Keepers by Sandy Taylor of Georgia

Oriole by Darlene Propp of California

"Sleeping Goose" - woven gourd by Dianne Masi of North Carolina

Osprey by Julie Songer of North Carolina
Carved eagle and blue bird gourds by Steve Siefert of California
I love this photo - "Chicken Farm" by Gloria Small of NC.  Gloria made 400 chicken gourds for the state poultry association banquet!
Reader's Mailbox
Here are some whimsical figures made by Marybeth Kallock.
*Copyright 2011 - Marybeth Kallok.   Images and designs are the property of Marybeth Kallok, and may not be downloaded, reproduced or copied without permission.
Two great bird sculptures by Sherry Benedict of Indiana.  Sherry combines gourds with clay and paints them with acrylics.
Reader's Mailbox
Below and Right: Rosario Wilke of California began these pieces in my inlay and filigree classes, and did a fantastic job on them. 
Magpie by Cathy Toot of Montana
Thanks to Sandra Whittier from the Gourd Art Enthusiasts website for steering me to this Japanese artists' website.  You can see some great gourd lamps in this YouTube video.
Reader's Mailbox
Roy Cavarretta of Texas writes:  Thank you for showing my first woodburned gourds in your Feb. newsletter.  I was honored and appreciate your kind words which have served to inspire me more.  I just received your "Gourds" book and it is great.  I have learned so much from reading it...your book will serve as a great source of inspiration.  I know you sell the supplies you discuss in the book and was impressed that you don't push them and go so far as to suggest home made supplies to start off with.  You are not only an artist, but a very respectable business woman.  *Thanks, Roy!

Below:  Roy has added weaving to his woodburned gourds
Filgree bird by Grace Gresser of CA
Above Right:  Sioux Westberry-Kaufman of Arizona did this wonderful gourd in my recent Doodles & Glass class.
Notice:  I will be teaching classes April 15 -18, and will not be shipping orders during that time.  The online store will also be closed from April 23 -30 while I attend a family activity.  Orders placed during these times will be held and shipped just as soon as possible.