UPDATE:  The new Gourd Art Enthusisasts website has really taken off this last month!  After one month, we already have over 725 members that have shared over 2000 gourd photos.  This site is a place where you can visit with other gourd artists; share photos, chat, ask and answer gourd crafting questions, and much more.  The site is free to use, and easy to join.  The site is sponsored and maintained by Arizona Gourds as a service to YOU.  Give it a try; you'll be amazed at the photos and activities going on.  You are welcome to post your own photos, events or join in on the discussions.   http://gourdartenthusiasts.ning.com/
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   February Feature:  Aves Apoxie Sculpt
How to embellish a gourd…OH MY!  by Sherry Goshon

*Join the class updates list if you want to receive advance notice of classes.  Get the news first and  have the best opportunity to select your classes! 
Arizona Gourds
February updates from the desert southwest...
Welcome to the February issue of the Arizona Gourds newsletter! 
Thanks for checking out the latest news! Feel free to pass the newsletter link along to your friends.

Not receiving the newsletter?  You can join the newsletter mailing list by clicking on the envelope icon.   If you are receiving duplicate mailings, or want to unsubscribe from the newletter list, please send me an email.
email me
Featured Books of the Month:

Search Now:
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.
For those of you that want to plant your own gourds, Gourds in Your Garden by Ginger Summitt is a must have. The Complete Compost Gardening Guide is the perfect accompaniment guide. (Some gourd growers have told me that their best gourds started from seeds in their compost pile!)

The Power Carving Manual is from the publishers of Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine.  This month they also have a great issue on power tools out on the newsstands.  Look for a copy of the magazine at your local home improvement store or bookstore. 

The bottom row of books all deal with clay sculpturing with various clay products.  The techniques for manipulating clay and sculpturing are about the same no matter which type of clay you use.  Clay Art for all Seasons uses a special type of air dry clay (Claycraft by Deco) and the artwork is absolutely incredible.  How to Make Clay Characters uses polymer clay to create figures.  Who's your Dada is by well known artists Linda and Opie O'Brien.  They use a wide variety of mixed media (including clay) to create art dolls.  This book has gotten rave reviews from doll artists - and some of the techniques may lend inspiration to your gourd art.

Do you have a book recommendation? I hope to start publishing some book reviews from my newsletter readers.  It can be a good review or a bad review - your honest input is valuable to others that might be considering a purchase.  I enjoy hearing about books I'm unaware of, so if you have one you like please send me the title and author so we may share your information with others.
*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:  Not getting your newsletter? Please add bonniegibson@qwest.net to your "safe senders" list, as 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.
What's new on the Arizona Gourds website? 
All photos and designs copyright © 2009 by Bonnie Gibson and may not be used without express written permission.
Featured Gourd of the Month:

"Mimbres Visitor"
Large canteen gourd decorated with some classic southwestern pueblo designs. The coloring is TransTint wood dyes and acrylics. The lizard was made from Apoxie Sculpt and painted with textured paints.

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*Do you have a tip or tutorial we can feature here?  Please contact me.
February Sale
On of my suppliers made an error, and I recently received 10 structured tooth long cylinder burs. 
Rather than send them back, I am offering one of these FREE as a special bonus to the first 10 customers who buy at least $30 worth of any kind of carving burs.  You can buy structured tooth and carbide burs, steel carving burs, diamond burs, or any combination of these to reach that amount.  This is an $8 value. 
I will post a notice on the Arizona Gourds Facebook page when the 10 free burs are gone. Or, write me before you order if you want to see if they are still available.
Click here for a printable PDF of this tutorial.
UpdateGourd Classes
New classes for Tucson have been posted on my classes page.  I've got a new offering - "Air Dry Clay Workshop."

Join me for classes at the second Gourd Retreat at the After Midnight Art Ranch in Sonoita, AZ next April.  There will be 5 days of gourd classes, including two with Maria Dellos, author of the book Gourd Art with Ink Dyes, and three days of classes with me.  The stay-onsite retreat spaces are now full, but there are still some spaces in all of the classes.  Register for classes on the After Midnight website.  If you need lodging nearby, contact Linda Hanson.

I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching classes at the Pennsylvania Gourd Festival this summer!  Class listings are posted but registration for classes will not begin until February 2nd.  Please visit the Pennsylvania Gourd Society festival page for more information and to register for classes.  *This event and the Cape Cod classes in September are my only scheduled east coast trips for this year. 

I will be teaching two days of classes next September 11-12th in Cape Cod.  This mini retreat is sponsored by Marcia Rothwell and will be held on the grounds of her Bed and Breakfast.  There will be some spaces for people to stay on site, or you are welcome to take individual classes and commute or stay nearby in other lodgings.   You may see photos of the retreat site here.  You can also email Marcia or call her at 860-563-8180. 
Interested?  View class details and signup information in this downloadable pdf file.

Want to plan ahead?  I will be teaching classes at the Michigan Gourd Festival
September 17-19.  Details are not finalized but should be available soon. 
Things are really moving quickly around here as I prepare to attend
The Wuertz Gourd Festival in Casa Grande, Arizona, on February 4th - 7th.  This is the largest gourd festival and it promises to be another busy show!  I will be teaching classes on Thursday before the festival, and again on Sunday.  This is the only show where I also have a sales booth.  I will be in the same space as previous years, D8 and E8. In addition to finished art gourds and supplies, I will also be demonstrating the Shofu air carving system and the carbide cleaning tools.  On Thursday I will also have a table at my classes where you can buy tools or supplies if you are onsite taking classes.  (The festival building is closed to the public on Thursday.)
Follow Arizona Gourds on Facebook and Twitter!  I offer occasional specials for my facebook fans.
NEW - Newsletter Index - Article and tip index from all the past newsletters!
Newsletter Index
A note about emails:

Many of us have come to rely on email correspondence in our personal and professional lives.  However, unlike traditional mail, email has a much greater tendency to become lost without anyone ever knowing it. Email can be sent and simply "disappear" into cyberspace. The worst part is - you won't know it, and neither will anybody else.  There are a lot of variables that play into email transmission, including your Internet service provider, your computer anti-virus and spam software, and even your email application. Sometimes we think that as long as we have our own junk mail filters set appropriately then everything will come and go just as we intend it. But once you send an email, it has to pass through several different portals and filters before it reaches its final destination.  Not getting the newsletter?  Be sure you have added messages from bonniegibson@qwest.net to your safe sender list. 

If you have sent me an email and have not heard back within a few days, then the chances are I never received your correspondence. Even when traveling, I try to be very diligent with all email communication and I even scan the junk mail filters for legitimate emails that slip by.  If you have tried contacting me and have not received a timely response, you may reach me at 1.520.444.8330.  Be aware that I am on Mountain Standard time (the correct Tucson time is displayed on my home page) and that I may not answer the phone if I am outside carving gourds, but I will return your call if you leave a message. 

Don't want to use the internet shopping cart?  I can only accept credit cards through paypal but I'm will gladly accept your  check if you prefer to place an order by email or phone.

Thanks to Sherry and to Aves for allowing me to reproduce this Apoxie Sculpt tutorial!

Please read through all instructions before beginning!
Supplies and Tools needed for project:
• 1lb of Black Aves Apoxie Sculpt• Clean Gourd
• Sculpting tool or tooth pick• The end of a paint brush
• Brown leather dye• Black spray paint
• Acrylic paints…red, purple and green     • Gold rub and buff
• Green rub and buff      • Tassel
• Small sponge • Paint brush
Make more snakes and lay these on the gourds to make vines, either free forming or following lines you've pre-drawn on the gourd. Put several pieces of vine on for placement, then use a sculpting tool to make little lines in the vine. It gives it a more realistic look, but also makes it stick to the gourd better.  Keep adding vines until you think there are enough.  You can always add more once the flowers and leaves are added if you think the design needs them.

Reader's Gallery
My wife and I met you in AZ at  the Casa Grande gourd show. I had bought your book here in Colorado and had some questions about the project on page 144, the Faux Basketry Vessel.   Well, I finally had a chance to do the project and had to show it off. I learned so much doing this gourd.
Tom Whaley -  Pueblo, Colorado
New!   Introducing Apoxie Sculpt
I have been asked by several people to add Apoxie Sculpt to my website, so you'll now find it on the Kits and Displays page.  You'll find lots of information about this product and how to use it in this issue of the newsletter. 

Apoxie Sculpt is the toughest, strongest, sculpting clay you can use for your gourd projects.  Unlike most air dry clays, large applications don't crack or shrink as the sculpting material dries, and the finished result is super hard and durable. (It's so strong that many gourders are using it as a "moldable glue" for attaching gourd pieces together. )  The cured material can be carved, sanded, painted or even turned on a lathe!   Unlike polymer clays, this is a two part product that hardens after mixing - no baking is required.

Use this product when strength is important - you'll be amazed how strong even the smallest details are when they are made from Apoxie Sculpt.

NON hazardous, NON Flammable, NO fumes, user friendly clay!!
Bonus - Apoxie Sculpt projects from other artists!

Sandy Taylor of Lilburn, GA did this lovely "Twitter teapot".  It is a cannonball gourd with spout and handle attached with Apoxie Sculpt. Grapevine was added for handle embellishment. The chickadees, dogwood blossoms and leaves were made with Apoxie Sculpt.
Tip of the Month:  Extra advice from others that use Apoxie Sculpt:

I use Apoxie sculpt to assemble my cut work, and since everything is aleardy painted black inside, the black apoxy sculpt doesn't show, mix what you need and it is like cement when dry ( 24 hours). 1-3 hour work time depending on thickness and temp..no fear of anything coming apart later, holds pieces in place where you want them, no need to glue..it comes in colors, you can paint it, sand it, drill, its water proof etc..people often scratch their heads wondering how my pieces are held in place, its great for butter fly bodies..or beads if you mix more than you need.  Kim Bilek - Barberton, OH

Peggy Ash of  Inman, South Carolina solved the problem of conditioning and mixing older, stiff sculpting material.  The material needs to be mixed thoroughly in order for it to set properly.  Simply put the two equal amounts to be conditioned [separately] on plastic wrap and then microwave them for about 5 to 10 seconds.  This bit of heat makes a huge difference in the stiffness of the hardener and makes it much easier to condition completely.  If there are hard crystals that have formed on the top of the product, scrape them off as they will never work into the clay and can cut the day-lites out of your hands when mixing. 

Here are some other tips from Peggy:
First, purchase a small set of sculpting tools at Michaels or Hobby Lobby type store. They come in wood or plastic - either is just fine and less than $5. You can use all kinds of things from around the house for texture - an old toothbrush, the end of a paintbrush, a pretty carved bead to press into the clay. Once you start this - everything will magically seem like a sculpting tool.
1. Don't mix up more clay than you can use in a few minutes. In other words, work in sections.
2. Don't start a project when you have something else to do. This isn't like pyro or paint or carving that you can put down and come back to.
3. Don't answer the phone. Remember you have only 3 hours to fully work this product.
4. Wash your hands thoroughly every hour or so. Apoxie is really hard to get off when it hardens.
5. Apoxie can be smoothed with water, Keep a small jar of water near, keep your sculpting tools in it, and use inexpensive craft paint brushes for smoothing. Don't ruin your good brushes. Clean your tools when you finish, later the clay will not come off.
6. Apoxie comes with a small bottle of solvent. Don't use it on your hands - it is extremely drying.
Rather than use the solvent, keep a fine mist spritz bottle of water close at hand and bowl of water to help smooth out the clay. The only thing I use the solvent for is to clean my tools, & as long as I throw them into my water bowl as I finish with the tool, the solvent really isn't necessary.
7. To get Apoxie Sculpt off your hands, use waterless hand cleaner (like Purell for germs, only I get the dollar store brands.) Work a really good amount in to hands and then wipe off on a paper towel or old shop rag before washing your hands. The Apoxie Sculpt will set up under water so it will also set-up in your sinks drain trap.... so getting off as much as possible may save a plumbing mishap.
8. I use "gloves in a bottle"; the kind nurses use to protect their hands from constant glove changes, to try to make getting AS off easier ( it doesn't really help with it sticking to your hands much, but eases removing). I also like to use a bit of shea butter under my nails to help with the same problem and to keep my nail beds and cuticles from drying out quite so bad.

Pat Blackburn of Baltimore, Ontario (Canada)  shares her tips:   
I like to mask a place on the table using saran wrap and tape which becomes my working surface area. I designate an area to my right and put down a cloth to wipe the bottom of the gourd.  As you working with the Apoxie you tend to lose little chunks which can sometimes end up on the bottom of your gourd. If you don't see them right away they will harden on your gourd and can make a mess pulling them off.
Another tidbit is buy a little nail brush for washing the apoxie off your hands.

Sandy Taylor of Liburn, Georgia says to use the inside of a zip lock plastic bag for your working area. She said that for some reason, the inside  is one of the few things that Apoxie doesn't stick to very well. She turned a gallon bag inside out and slipped a piece of plywood in it and..voila...a great portable palette to work on. When it gets too grungy she just changes bags.  Another little tip - put a bit of olive oil under your finger nails (not much). It makes clean up easier.

Sue Walters has released "Pyrography Workshop", an instructional DVD on her woodburning techniques!  Learn from one of the acknowledged masters of the craft! 
If you are attending the festival, I hope you'll stop by to say hello; things may be hectic, but I always enjoy meeting new people and visiting with familiar gourd friends.  I also appreciate your purchases at my booth - your continued business and support is very appreciated.

Orders placed on the Arizona Gourds website will not be shipped from February 4 - 7th.  All orders will be sent out just as quickly as possible upon my return. 
Aves Apoxie Sculpt is a two-part clay that you mix in equal parts. From each container get one – 1 inch ball (of part A and part B.)

Mix well by kneading them together, it takes about 2 minutes. You have approx 1 hour to work with it, however it take 3 hours to dry (it just gets a bit harder to sculpt with after 1 hour.)  I also have found that the colored isn’t as sticky as the white.  Work with the Apoxie using water on your fingers.  When it is mixed really well, set it on something like tin foil or something plastic, as Apoxie does stick to everything.
Pinch off a piece about the size of a big marble,
roll this into a thin snake about 1/8” to 1/4”.  Put the snake on the top of the gourd.
I like to do this as it gives the gourd a more clean, finished look. Squeeze the snake ends together to make a nice ring, smoothing into the inside so it will stay when dry.  Now you are ready to begin your design.
Now for the leaves.  Make little tear drop shape piece about 1/2” long and about 1/8” thick.  Lay tear drop shapes on the gourd with the point out, these are your leaves.  With a sculpting tool, pull or make a line down the center, starting at the top and pulling toward the point. Then, make the lines or veins in the leaves, going from center out with a downward slant. Add more leaves and repeat the process until you have enough leaves.

Remember that you may have to make lots of batches of the mixed Apoxie, and it’s best to work in smaller amounts so you can use it all up in the allotted time.  Next, make little berries of sorts - roll little tiny balls     (smaller then a pea.)  Place the balls in areas where you would like them, using one or three together (I usually use either one or three, they say nature isn’t even) and then with the end of the paint brush push in the center to give them depth and help them stick in place.
Now you are going to make roses.  Make a short fat snake about 1 long and 1/4” thick, then flatten out the snake.  You may have to wet your fingers as this is when the clay likes to stick.  The thinner the better and more delicate the flower.  Roll the strip up almost like a cinnamon roll, but not as tight. Place the roses here and there, and press a toothpick in the center so that they are secure.
As you see I went back and added more vines, leaves, etc.  I went about 1/2 ways down from the top.  Now let the apoxie sculpt dry.
I had added a small hook made from Apoxie Sculpt because I knew I wanted to put add a tassel on the gourd. This of course is up to your own taste.  I hope you have fun and enjoy Apoxie Sculpt as much as I do!
I painted the bottom half of the gourd with brown leather dye, sponging it on for a more uneven look.  Then, I spray painted the inside of the gourd black and also across the upper half, covering some of the leaves while letting the over spray lightly drift down.  Try to avoid a line where the two colors come together.
This month, the Arizona Highways magazine included a short writeup about the upcoming Wuertz Festival in their "Things to Do" section.  I was very pleased to open the issue and find that they had chosen a photo of of one of the gourds I created during my artist residency at the Grand Canyon as the accompanying picture for the article!  If you have a copy of the magazine, you'll find the photo and announcement on page 12. 

(This gourd design is also one that you
can order on a t-shirt or sweatshirt from
my cafe press store.)
Sue Chaffee-Sizemore of Vancouver, WA sculpted the grizzly bear cub and the bear head on this gourd using Apoxie Sculpt.
(I also like how she used my patina paints for water effects!)
Phyllis Sickles of Tucson, Arizona creates wonderful bird sculptures using various gourd parts, copper tubing and apoxie sculpt.  The Apoxie holds all the parts together and gives them strength.  It is also used to sculpt and shape some of the features, especially the beaks and legs where extra strength is really needed. 

Pat Blackburn of Ontario, Canada, used Apoxie Sculpt to create this great sunflowers gourd bowl.
Reader's Mailbox
Bonnie,  Thanks again for teaching me at the gourd retreat in Indiana - I LOVE carving.... you have changed my GOURD life.  Love your website and newsletters, love the Gourd Art Enthusiasts site, too.  Thanks!
Pat Moore - Bloomington, Indiana

Hi Bonnie, Thank you so much for the gift of the two diamond bits included with my order.  I can see they will be very useful on future projects and look forward to trying them out.
Your work is phenomenal and I would be groping around in the dark without the guidance your book and website provide.  Thank you so much for your giving spirit and love of teaching.        Kindred gourder,
Linda Prince - Camp Verde, AZ
Reader's Gallery
Note: Several months ago, I was contacted by Bob Cochoys, a woodturner from Ohio. He had seen one of my gourds (shown at right) and was interested in similarly inlaying turquoise cabochons on his woodturnings. 

Hi Bonnie, I have attached a picture of my (woodturned) contest piece with the turquoise rectangles and turquoise bead strings that you sold us.  We were very pleased with the outcome of the piece, but it only took Honorable Mention at the Ohio Valley Woodturners with the tough competition in my category.

Thanks for all your help and advice! I plugged Arizona Gourds as the source of the turquoise when I did my "show & tell".  I told them that if they thought the woodturners did a lot of ornamentation on their pieces, they should look at what the gourd people do.
Bob Cochoys - Beavercreek, Ohio
Time for Planting?  It may be too soon to think of planting a gourd crop if you live in the midwest, but in temperate climates, growers sometimes plant as soon as late February or early March.

You may plant seeds from gourds you have crafted, but you will likely get a cross pollinated variety that may not look like the gourd that produced the seed.

For best germination of seeds, nick the seed and start them between layers of damp paper towel. Keep them warm and damp.  If you wish to start them indoors, plant them in small unwaxed paper cups or use small jiffy peat planting cups.  Remove the bottom of the cup before planting into your garden.  Wait until the soil is warm and don't overwater.

Gourds spread like crazy and can even grow up into surrounding trees  - pick your planting space carefully.
Click on any of these photos to see seeds from commercial growers.  There are many other varieties available.
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