Special Feature - Gourd Instruments at the Museum of Musical Instruments  ("MIM")

Last month I had the fun experience of spending a day at the Museum of Musical Instruments, located in Phoenix, Arizona.  I personally do not play any musical instrument nor have a particular interest in them, however I found this museum to be a fantastic experience and well worth the visit.  The museum is one of the best I've experienced.  Upon entering you are provided with an audio box and headphones that interact with the displays, so that you can see video clips of the instruments being played and hear the sounds of each one.  The museum is broken down into several huge galleries (plan on spending the day!) that are at first geographically separated, and as you move along, some of the galleries deal with specific artists, genres of music and even and interactive gallery where you can play some of the instruments yourself. The building houses a concert/workshop venue as well.   If you are ever in the Phoenix area, it is definitely worth the time.  You can find more information about the Museum on their website at: http://mim.org/

So why am I mentioning this museum in a gourd newsletter?  When I began touring the museum, I thought it would be fun to take photos of some of the gourd instruments to share in the newsletter.  Hours later, with 75 photos and a dead camera battery, I still had not photographed all of the gourd instruments!  It's amazing how many cultures use gourds in so many different ways.  Some of the intruments may look similar but have different names and slightly different construction in different countries.
Arizona Gourds
December updates from the desert southwest...
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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. 
*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.
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Gourds with Southwestern Motifs by Bonnie Gibson

The hardcover edition is now out of print.  This is the paperback version of my "Gourds" book.

All copies I sell are autographed.

What's new on the Arizona Gourds website? 
(Click on book cover for ordering information.)
All photos and designs copyright © 2013 by Bonnie Gibson and may not be used without express written permission.
Featured Gourd of the Month:

Starfish ocean drum. Because ocean drums are played with the skin side down, the gourd shell is usually the focus of the decoration.  This gourd was thick enough for carving and also has a design added to the drum skin.
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Newsletter Index - article and tip index from all the past newsletters
Newsletter Index
The Gourd Art Enthusiasts site continues to grow!  We have about 3650 members, with gourd enthusiasts from all over the world!  Membership is free and easy.  The site also has state groups, event listings, a Q&A forum and a chat feature.
Check out our two GAE T-Shirt designs ! 
*Want to see my listing of top gourd books?  Here is my  "Listmania" listing on Amazon
Do you get inspired seeing art of all different types?   I post one or more art photos a day on the Arizona Gourds facebook page.  Whenever possible, links are provided to the original artist's page.  Remember - these are for inspiration - use them to come up with your own spin on an idea but please do not just copy other people's art.

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UpdateGourd Classes

I will be announcing some new spring classes soon.  Tentative Tucson dates will be around
the first weekend in March, but I may add some in late February or later in March as well. 
Sign up for the class updates list if you want to be the first to hear about new offerings before
they are listed on my website.  My classes at the Wuertz Festival are full.
Tip of the Month - Simple Paint Drying Rack Solutions

Have you ever painted or varnished a gourd and then stood there wondering where you could put it so that it would dry without the finish being damaged? Sometimes it works fine to just put the gourd upside down onto a broom handle or similar item, but It is easy to make a simple drying rack that won't accidently fall over and damage your gourd. 

Start with a piece of stiff cardboard, and push three upholstery tacks through the cardboad in a triangular pattern.  Spread them far enough apart so that your gourd will sit on the 3 exposed points and the gourd does not touch the cardboard below.  

A more permanent rack can be made by pounding a few nails into a board and then snipping off the nail heads, leaving a sharp point.  Or, for a more flexible solution, use a base made from a small piece of pegboard, and insert stubby roofing nails into the holes from the back side of the board. (You can pick the placement that is appropriate to the size of the gourd.)  Flip the board over so the nail points stick upwards, and place your gourd on top.  The few tiny places where the gourd rests on the nails will never show on the finish.
Here are some musical instrument related titles. A couple of these are out of print but you can still buy used copies for very little through the links.

Coming soon:  Marianne Barnes' new book, Creative Embellishments for Gourd Art is scheduled to be released at the end of January. You can pre-order now and lock in the guaranteed lowest price and it will be shipped out just as soon as Amazon has it on hand.
Looking for an inexpensive gift for a gourding friend?
I've taken 10 of my favorite gourds and turned them into postcards!  These are high quality, glossy cardstock and are designed for mailing, but you may have trouble parting with your personal favorites!  These are available on my gourd art "For Sale" page.  
Arizona Gourds Newsletter Index
See all our old newlsetters from the past 7 years!  Articles and Tips are indexed.
Newsletter Index
I often get questions about shipping costs that are added to shopping cart sales.  To clarify things, I've added a new page to the website:
Shipping Policies.
I am using a no-frills shopping cart program that has limitations and little flexibility.  By not paying for expensive software, I can offer you lower prices on the website merchandise.  I'm not looking to make a profit on shipping;  if you order lightweight items you will likely get a refund or some freebies to make up for it. Please take a minute to look at the shipping policies page for clarification and explanation of how things work.  If you ever have any questions, please feel free to email me directly.  I value your business!
Welcome to the December issue of the Arizona Gourds newsletter! 
Reader's Mailbox
Below: Steampunk style fun from some students in a recent class.  They were provided with clock parts, keys and gears and materials to make a funky bird. Every one turned out different!
New Feature: Gourd Artist of the Month
I'd like to feature some gourd artists that are deserving of recognition!  I want to showcase both US and International artists, and make this a regular monthly feature.  If you would like to be considered, please send some info about yourself and at least 6 high quality photos of your best work.  (If I get a lot of responses, your pictures may possibly be used in later editions.)  Put "gourd artist of the month" in the subject line and send to: bonnie@arizonagourds.com
Reader's Mailbox   *I don't usually like to post "testimonial" type emails, but this one really made me smile.
Hi Bonnie,  I got my order this week and was thrilled at the "extras" included, it was such a treat!  And I want to thank you for responding to my Amazon search box question.  My carts do seem to have a way of expanding and it is nice to know I am contributing to the gourd cause in a small way.    I also want to thank you for your incredible generosity of spirit in sharing your gourd knowledge.  I have never been able to attend a class so am self taught.  I have purchased instruction gourd books in the past to learn a specific technique, only to realize that keys bits were missing so you couldn't accomplish what you wanted.  I refer to your book and website on a regular basis, and have the thrill of seeing the quality of my work improving.  When I get an e-mail or questions at a craft fair, I always give you credit and direct the inquirer to your website.  I don't normally write e-mails like this, but as a retired lady my gourd work has become important to me and you are a huge contributor to my enjoyment.  Debra Paddack
Coming soon!
New spinning bur cleaning tool 
While you can easily clean carving burs by soaking them in a solvent and then scrubbing them with a brass toothbrush, sometimes you might be in a hurry and want something that works fast.  With this new cleaning tool, you leave the bur in your tool, turn it on LOW speed, and hold the moving bur against the brass brush in the middle of the cleaning tool. The spinning bur will rotate the brush, which will clean the bur.  Brass brushes are replaceable.
Watch the website home page for a notice of their arrival sometime in December.  When available, they will be listed on the "Rotary Tool Accessories" page of the website.
Musical Instrument supplies 
After checking out our feature on the Musical Instrument Museum please stop by our other pages to buy supplies to make your own instruments!  Drum skins, Kalimba kits, and decorative metal tacks are all available on the Musiscal Supplies page.
Left - Barry Sholder of Georgia uses our skins for  his gourd banjo creations.
I want to wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas (or whatever holiday you observe) and many wishes for a happy holiday season.  The gourding community is a close one, and I regard many of you as family as well as friends.  Enjoy your time spent with your loved ones and hopefully you can sneak in some time for gourds.  Our articles and photos may give you some ideas for fun holiday projects!

Don't forget, if you plan to order holiday gifts from Amazon.com, please use one of our search boxes or links.  Your purchases through our links help to support our free newsletters and the Gourd Art Enthusiasts website.  It doesn't cost you a thing, and you help us at the same time.  Thank you!
If you can't visit the museum, but would like to hear some of the instruments pictured below, I recommend Jim Widess and Ginger Summit's book, "Gourd Musical Instruments".  This small volume has photos of the instruments and also a CD so you can hear them being played.  (We've had some fun at classes playing this CD in the background!)   The same authors have also written "Making Gourd Musical Instruments, which is another great book and has directions to make some of these more unusual instruments.
Listening to the audio with earphones. The audio would begin when you approached a display.

There was a room where you could play some of the intruments.
Most of the galleries were broken into continents and countries with examples from each area.

Most displays were accompanied by a video feed with several examples of music from a region.

Some displays focused on a particular instrument such as thumb pianos or bagpipes.
Gourd Instruments!
Museum Overview
Gourds for Gifting!

Thank you to the folks that sent in these great ideas to get you into the holdiay spirit of handmade gifts!
Coming in January: Related Crafts
Where do artists get inspiration?  Many gourd artists get ideas from looking at other artistic media such as wood, eggs, ceramic and more.  I'll be looking for photos that have related skills that work well with gourds; woodcarving, pyrography on unsual surfaces, weaving, painting, etc.  Have some suggestions?  Please send your ideas and photos to: bonnie@arizonagourds.com
This cute gourd bank was made by Linda Ashmore of Arkansas. The gourd was for a lady to give as a shower gift for her new grandson.  His nursery was sporting themed so she requested this duck pond scene along with the name of the baby.  (This would also make a great Christmas gift!)

Below: Some gourds by Merril McHenry of Kansas.  The little critter was made as a gift for his 5 year old grandson.  He used wooden spools for the legs and added glass eyes.

Buffalo or Coyote gourds, also by Merril McHenry.  Each fall, Merril gathers these wild gourds and green scrapes them while they are green. He pencils on orignial designs and wood burns and paints them for Christmas ornament gifts.  To the right is his "12 days of Christmas" series of ornaments.

Left:  Brenda Safiotti made this Santa ornament.  She also added a tip:  "I found out you can clean dry gourds with a potato peeler. It will take off the hard dried skin that a scrubby has trouble removing."

Far Left:  Julie-Anne Wallenwein of Saskatchewan, Canada made this multi-tiered gourd ornament as a gift for her sister.  She says these ornaments are popular and she makes a few each year for gifts.  They are a fun way to use smaller gourds and she hopes to one day have a tree with only these ornaments as decoration.  The maple leaf is Canada's national leaf and she is proud to use them on many of her creations.

Reader's Mailbox *This email was sent to one of my local gourding friends, and is posted with the writers permission.

"Next time you get together with Bonnie for a play day, you might let her know that my husband would like to have a word with her.  My "gear head" husband now has gourds hanging from the rafters in his shop....and I have actually taken over a corner (next to the pellet stoveI, of course)......as well as one room in the house.....not to mention, gourds hanging from the pinon trees to dry. And all because of HER.

SHE is actually responsible for my gourd addiction.  I knew that gourding was in my future the minute  I saw the beautiful "cover gourd" on her book..."Gourds...Southwest Gourd Techniques".  I wonder how many other husbands would like "a word with her"??!!!

I,  on the other hand, would like to thank her for introducing me to this wonderful art form.  Gourd art seems to attract down to earth people who love nature,  love to laugh, and are warm & generous.   Working with gourds, and my gourding friends has truly enriched my life."  Linda P.

PS  My husband is really understanding and has become very involved with making cleaning tools, stands, etc.....also helps when I am "stuck" with a design & is very good w/glues, paint, & finishes.   I think I'll keep him!
For the holidays - we also offer gift certificates!
Want to give a gourd related gift?
Give an Amazon.com gift certificate,
Give an Arizona Gourds Gift Certificate!
(Purchase and redeem on our website with  Paypal.)
To get you into the mood for the holidays, here is a YouTube video with a very simple gourd snowman that would be a great project to do with children!  If you are more ambitious, you can try your hand at creating one as lovely as this snowman made by Beverly Notaro of Illinois.

If you liked this feature and want to learn more about these instruments, please visit the August 2006 newsletter for a drum making feature, plus articles on musical instruments in the October 2010 and November 2010 editions. 
*Update on carving burs:   Several people have written me to ask about the availability of a few carving burs that have been out of stock for a while.  I have been working the last couple of months to bypass some third party suppliers and become a direct dealer for Dremel.  I should have plenty of both Dremel carving burs and accessories (including flexshafts and repair parts) as well as Saburr Tooth and Dura Grit specialty burs sometime this month.  Thank you for your patience. 
Gourd and photo by GAE member Bill Watkins of NC