Arizona Gourds
January updates from the desert southwest...
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Featured Books of the Month:

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Use our Amazon search box link to find all kinds of books and other products!  We appreciate those of you that do so; Amazon purchases made through the links on this website help to support this site.
Everything MASKS!  Books above include coloring books, educational books, and even one that shows fabulous beaded American Indian masks for horses!
*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.
What's new on the Arizona Gourds website? 
Featured Gourd of the Month:

"Wild Brothers" Gourd Mask

Canteen gourd, antlers, turkey, macaw and pheasant feathers, horsehair, copper cones and deerskin laces.
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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 have about 2950 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 if you need an quick answer to a gourding question!   Check out our two great new GAE T-Shirt designs ! 
*Want to see my listing of top gourd books?  Here is my  "Listmania" listing on Amazon
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(Just a note - I don't add gourd friends on my personal page, I save that for family and non-gourding friends.)
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Tip of the Month:  Staybowlizer

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Exciting news - Last spring I published a review of the new Micro-Pro Champion micro motor tool in the May issue of the Arizona Gourds newsletter.  I purchased and tested one of these units and compared it against some of the older models and against some other brands that were being used by students in my carving classes.   I had not been impressed by some of the micro-motor tools I had seen in the past, as they had very little torque (power) for heavy carving, and the units tended to overload when used for heavy carving.  This unit was the first one I had tried that was priced reasonably and still delivered a good amount of power.

While I still use my Foredom and Dremel tools for carving, this tool has some definite advantages, especially for ladies with smaller or arthritic hands.  The handpiece is easier to hold as it uses a small flexible cord for power instead of a flexshaft.  My favorite use for the tool is filigree carving, as I can hold the tool vertically for hole piercing for a much longer period of time before my hand becomes fatigued.

After recommending this tool to students for the last year, I've decided to start offering it on our website, along with the optional foot control.  (I don't use a foot control myself, but some people like that option.) Tools should be available sometime in January.  *Email me to place a pre-order to be picked up at the Wuertz Festival.  Look for these on the new "Micro-Pro Carvers" page. 
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Reader's Mailbag
Hi Bonnie,  I had a wonderful time yesterday at your two classes.  I love learning new techniques.  Now I'm set up with some better equipment in order to use my dremel tool.  I am so thrilled that you had your inventory out for us to purchase items we need.  I am sending you a picture of one of my canteen gourd purses.  I had trouble steadying the saw as I had several coatings of polyurethane semi gloss spray on the outside before I decided to make it into a purse.  But I really like how it turned out and the person that bought it loves it too.  Diane Fleming - AZ
Feature - Masks and More
Years ago, I was introduced to gourd masks by master gourd mask maker, Dave Sisk, who also lives in Tucson.  At the time, I had not seen others making such wonderful masks - although were other people (including Robert Rivera and Doug Fountain and a few  others) doing them before that.  I have to admit that I was slow to appreciate gourd masks; they just weren't something I was particularly interested in making myself.  Fast forward to today..... I've ended up making quite a few masks of my own, and now when you visit a gourd show (especially those in the southwest) you will see a ton of lovely and creative masks.

One really nice thing about masks is that you can often use gourds that are damaged on one side or less than perfect in other ways.  I've found several ways to use small cut off gourd pieces to create gourd mask shadowboxes, wall hangings, and masks on stands.  Some people use whole gourds, others use half gourds, while others use pieces and parts!  This month on the Gourd Art Enthusiasts website, we invite all our GAE members to participate in our monthly challenge - for January it's Gourd Masks.  Not a member?  Its easy and free to join, and you can create your own gourd page that can be shared with friends and family.  Thanks to all the artists that shared their photos!

To get you started, here are some masks from current GAE members and gourd friends.  *If you want more information, you may enjoy two of my project packets - "Masquerade Vase" and "Mask Making Techniques".  (They are on the Project Packets page on the Arizona Gourds website.)
All photos and designs copyright © 2012 by Bonnie Gibson and may not be used without express written permission.
Welcome to the January issue of the Arizona Gourds newsletter! 
UpdateGourd Classes

Wuertz Festival Update:  My class sessions are full and have waiting lists.  *I plan to offer more class sessions here at my home during February/March.  Watch for new Tucson classes to be posted SOON.  Please sign up for the class updates list (link is below to the left) if you want to hear about new offerings as soon as they are posted.

Next April 26th  -30th, I will be teaching at the annual art retreat at the After Midnight Art Ranch in Sonoita, Arizona.  Classes will be announced soon - watch the After Midnight site or sign up for the class updates list.

May 18th - 19th, I will be teaching in Vista, California.  Watch for details to be posted on the classes page SOON.

The June Raymondville, Missouri workshop is now full.  Please contact Sophia Delaat, to join the waiting list.

I'll be teaching at a June 7-9 workshop in Colorado Springs, CO.  Please contact Merle Dallison for information.
I finished up 2012 by holding some classes at my home in December.  Thanks to Lollie Yancey for sharing these class photos!
From the Manufacturer:  
Compare Micro-Motor Tools Grinders / Carvers based on quality, features and value: The MICRO-PRO by MASTERCARVER® High-Performance Tools wins Micro-Motor Tool comparisons to: FOREDOM, RAM, TPS, NSK, Gourd Master and more!
Compare component quality: The Micro-Pro features top quality components like NSK bearings and CNC manufactured high precision stainless steel collets.
Compare Micro-Motor Tool Grinder warranties: the Micro-Pro covers the handpiece and control box for 1-full year.

The new Micro-Pro Champion features an 11% increase in torque (power). With higher torque & speed up to 46,000 rpm, the Micro-ProTM has the power, speed, superior features & quality you want, priced far less than others! For better control, power flows to the handpiece by a 6’ flexible cord. The dial varies speed from 0 to 46,000 rpm! Control box features: dial speed control knob, lighted power indicator, on/off switch, overload protection, 6-burr storage holes, 110/220 Volt selector, forward/reverse switch (directs chips away from you or for left-handed carvers). Handpiece features high torque, fan cooled micro motor, sealed NSK ball bearings, solid grip turn-ring for hands-free bit changes (1/4 turn releases or locks bits & collets). Handpiece specifications 46,000 rpm: L. 6”, diameter 5/8”-1”, weight: 7.3 oz. Set includes: handpiece, 3/32” & 1/8” quick change collets, variable speed power supply, table top and box mounted handpiece holders, long-life motor brushes, instructions & 1-year warranty.
Note: burrs not included. For hands-free control add optional on/off foot pedal.
Reader's Mailbag
At my last class, Natalie Ashburn of Arizona showed me this lovely gourd angel that she had made from several gourd pieces.
At a kitchen supply store, I stumbled across this interesting product that you may find handy for gourds.  The "Staybowlizer" is made of silicone rubber, and while it was designed to hold a bowl firmly in place while mixing goodies in your kitchen, it can also be used to hold a gourd steady on your workbench.  The surface isn't sticky, but the silicone rubber grabs items and holds them in place.  The Staybowlizer retails for about $24.95.

*Interesting Story....This was one of the first masks I ever made.  I entered it in the very first Arizona Gourd Society competition 10 years ago - where it was stolen from the exhibit!  (Needless to say, the show now has fantastic security.)  A few months later, the mask showed up on ebay - but I couldn't prove it was the same piece or just a copy made from a photo taken at the show....
Above:  Gourd masks by Dave Sisk of Arizona.  His website is

Below: Distinctive and unusual masks by Bill Decker of Missouri.  Bill is noted for his expert pryrography skills and renderings of feathers.
Below: 3 Gourd masks by Margaret Sullivan of Arizona.  The top mask has added ram's horns.
Three masks by Karen Phillips of AZ.
Pottery painted deer mask by Darla Hines of Texas.
"Uga Booga"
Gourd Mask by Gail Bishop of CA.
Cholla Carving class results - the carving is done and the gourd is ready to paint!
Above: 2 Gourd masks by Jack Thorpe of CA.  It'd always fun to see masks that are a bit different than the typical Southwestern designs.
Bonus Feature - Seed Bead Applique by Dusti Lockey

In the September 2006 newsletter, we featured a seed bead rim tutorial by Dusti  Lockey.  Dusti has expanded and improved her tutorial and has graciously shared her beading technique with the gourding community.  The tutorial is below in PDF format for easy download.   (If you need assistance in viewing or printing PDF files, please click here for free Adobe Reader software.) *Important:  Please be sure to read the notes at the end of the article as to rights of usage of this material.

Dusti is a member of the Gourd Art Enthusiasts website.  You can see more of Dusti's work and contact her via her page on GAE.  Many thanks to Dusti for sharing her skills with us! 
Zendoodle style tribal mask
by Kathe Stark of NM.
Happy New Year to all my gourding friends!  I hope 2013 brings you bumper gourd crops, fantastic new experiences and plenty of finished new gourd art pieces.  Our New Year's resolution should be to bring more awareness to gourds - let's all share our fantastic hobby with others and bring it more exposure.   Theme for 2013, "A Gourd in every home!"

I'm looking forward to another busy year, and it's already started out with some excitement.  The Crafts Report magazine interviewed me in November, and they've published the article as the "Profile in Success" feature for the month!  It's in the February 2013 issue (cover is shown to the right) and should be available on the newsstands.  You can also subscribe to the magazine through Amazon at a discounted price, or get a digital subscription or single issues through the publisher.

Not familiar with the magazine?  The Crafts Report is a business resource for artists and craft retailers.  Each issue includes articles on topics such as photographing your crafts, ethical business practices, how to sell your craft effectively, booth setups, etc.
*January Sale - web only
Structured Tooth Bur - Cylinder shape is on sale while current supply lasts.  $3 off the regular price! 
On the Carvings Burs page.
Lots of unusual Mask Making supplies on the Metals, Embellishments and Special Embellishments pages!