So, you want your artwork in a gallery?  Article by Gerald Tobola, Gallery Owner

For an artist, placing your artwork in a consignment art gallery is a big step. There are a number of things that you will need to do to be prepared. Hopefully, this article will help you through the process and assist you in deciding if a gallery setting is right for you.
The first step is to create your artwork. Creativity is a hard thing to define. It’s different for each one of us. But what I do know is that, creativity is born out of passion for your work. Through my five years experience as a gallery owner, I have observed that customers are drawn to artwork that has been created from the artists’ heart and soul, as opposed to a technique that has been learned in a class. While I encourage artists to take classes (to learn new techniques), it is imperative that you also figure how to adapt what you learn to fit your style. Strive to create artwork that has never been seen before.  

Creating work for a gallery might demand a different thought process in the way you finish your work. After all, the hope is that someone will like your work well enough to take it home to enjoy. Think about the big picture - what happens when they take it home? Did I create it with enough quality that the piece will last a lifetime? Does it hang correctly? Does it wobble on the shelf? Is it too glossy? Does it stand crooked? Did I properly integrate the base with the actual artwork? These are just some of the things you need to address before you take your work to a gallery. My advice is to pretend that you are a buyer and have just bought your artwork to take home. Go through the same steps that a buyer has to go through when they get home. If the piece is required to hang, then hang it on your wall. Does it hang like it’s supposed to? Did you use a suitable bracket or hanging mechanism? Get an understanding of what the buyer will go through to display your work when they take it home. This is the time to be critical of your own work. Sometimes it takes the opinion of another person or friend to see the obvious. Another exercise is to ask yourself, “Would I buy this artwork?” If you wouldn’t, then you can’t expect someone else to either. Finally, do not rely on the gallery owner to finish your work for you - it is not their job - be sure to completely finish your work before the gallery visit. 

Once you have completed all the above, you are now ready to approach a gallery. But before doing that, first do some research on the gallery you are interested in doing business with. Once again, pretend you are a shopper by visiting the gallery. Is the gallery clean? Were you acknowledged when you came through the door? Did you have a good feeling by being there? Was the artwork tastefully displayed? Your initial impressions will likely be the same as other shoppers and can help you decide if that particular gallery is a good fit for you and your work.      
When you have chosen the gallery that best suits your needs, make an appointment with the gallery owners to show your work. Keep in mind that the gallery personnel will interview you, as it’s their decision if they want to represent you. However, you need to interview them as well. Ask questions, such as: Do they have insurance that will cover your work in case of a fire, theft, breakage, etc.? What is their payment schedule? What is their consignment fee? Just get a general idea of how they conduct their business. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t feel obligated to place your work in that gallery. Believe it or not, in my gallery, the customer is not my number one priority; it is the artist. I feel that if I have done my job with my artists, then the customer will come automatically. To promote healthy creativity, I believe in keeping my artists as happy as possible. After all, an art gallery cannot be in business without artists.

Pricing your work is about the hardest thing an artist needs to do. In my gallery, it is a team effort to decide the value. Together, we have to decide what the market can stand, especially with the current economic situation. Try to be flexible. In most cases, you can’t add the consignment percentage onto the price. Remember that you (and the gallery) are trying to sell your work, and there is a real cost of doing business that has to be factored into the selling price. You have to establish a common ground with the gallery that will result in a win-win situation.

Finally, I strongly recommend that you have an “artist card” that tells a small portion of your story. Customers like to hear stories about artists. This is what connects the buyer to the artist. Without this connection, there is a good chance they will not purchase the item. As a gallery owner, I cannot tell you how many times I am asked for an artist card.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it to be helpful as you navigate this process. Take it from me: I am an artist, as well as the gallery owner, so I know how both sides need to work together.  
Gerald Tobola, Copper Artist and Gallery Owner, Copper Shade Tree - an American fine craft gallery
206 E. Mill St., Round Top, Texas

Thanks to Gerald for this great article!  * Before contacting Gerald, please note that Copper Shade Tree Gallery only accepts art from Texas artisans.
Arizona Gourds
January updates from the desert southwest...
Welcome to the January 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.
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. 
The first book, "Hot Gourds"  is a new release by Beth Coheley. The subtitle is "The Art of Pyrocarving and Woodburning". *I've not yet seen a copy of this book; if you have seen it, please let us know how you liked it.

The next two books are upcoming releases by Sammie Crawford, AKA "The Fairy Gourdmother".  Building Gourd Birdhouses is due out at the end of March, 2011,  and Creating Gourd Birds will be released at the end of February, 2011.  Both are available as pre-releases, These will be reviewed in future newsletters.

The last three books are about "Zentangle" techniques and patterns.  If you enjoyed seeing the wonderful gourds shown in this newsletter, then these books will show you how to get started and will give you lots of ideas for patterns and designs.
I have the first book and sent a copy to my 12 year old grandson - he enjoys art and has had fun doing his own zentangles on paper.

*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:  It is important that you add this email address 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.
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 © 2010 by Bonnie Gibson and may not be used without express written permission.
Featured Gourd of the Month:

"Copper Quail"

This gourd has two things Arizona is known for, copper and quail.  The quail is an ironwood carving that sits on a removable lid.  The gourd is woven with reed and copper.  The river like pattern is inlaid with copper beads and copper leafing. 
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January Feature -  Zentangle®/Zendoodle Gourds

Zentangle® and Zendoodle are names for something that many of us do while we are waiting on hold on the phone, or we did while we were bored in school years ago - simply, it is doodling!  However, this is doodling that has taken a step further.  Series of repeating geometric designs are used to fill areas and create larger overall designs.  The term "Zentangle" was invented by and is registered to Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas and their website,  The name is reflective of this relaxing and free flowing style of drawing. 

My first introduction to using this style of drawing on gourds came from Barb Wolters of New Mexico.  Barb had done a gourd in this style and it was featured on the Zentangle blog in March, 2010.  Since then, she has posted photos of her gourd on the Gourd Art Enthusiasts website, and others have started to create gourds with this technique.  These first two photos are of Barb's piece.


Tip of the Month: Favorite Gourd Books

Last month, I posted a question on both the GAE site and on Facebook, asking people what books would they buy for a new gourd library if they were starting with $300 and had no books to start with.  Here are the results of that poll - perhaps it will give you some guidance if you are thinking of adding a book to your collection.  Please note that in some cases the person voting didn't actually own the book, they just had it on their "wish list". *Congratulations to Sharon Wright of Kentucky - her name was randomly selected from the submitted lists.  She wins a free copy of "Apples to Apples" by Angela Mohr.
*Do you have a tip or tutorial we can feature here?  Please contact me.
New items - Clay tools   These clay tool sets are great for working with Apoxie Clay, polymer clay and air dry clay.  These are quality made but reasonably priced.   These are found on the new Apoxie Sculpt page.  *The large set on the lower left was sent in error - this mistake is your good deal.  While they last, this set is on sale for half of the regular retail price.  As a bonus, the sponge is great for sponge painting and the large wooden scraper and metal scapers are good for gourd cleaning!
Printable PDF File
Reminder - New email address:
Due to changes in my email provider, newsletters notices are now sent from several email addresses.  Let me know if you have problems receiving notices.  (You may also access the current newsletters from the Arizona Gourds home page.)
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 1525 members and over 5000 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 teaching at the 3rd annual After Midnight Art Ranch Retreat in Sonoita, Arizona.  This has been a popular event the last two years, and due to the small class sizes, has filled quickly each year.  For more information and registration (both for the full retreat and for individual classes, please visit the After Midnight classes page, or contact our hostess, Linda Hanson.  Classes run April 15-19th, 2011.

New Tucson classes for February/March will be posted very soon.  Send me a note if you have a request for a specific class or a preferred weekend.
Patchwork quilt effect by Rita Heller of Michigan
TeriLu Adler of Wisconsin created “Pretty Bird” and  “Treasure Box” with zendoodle designs.

Reader's Mailbox - Featured Artist: Marlene Leeson
We don't want to forget our Canadian gourd friends!  Marlene Leeson is originally from Toronto, but now lives in a small village in the Land O’ Lakes Region. 

"Life brings special gifts to each of us.   With nature, I see and appreciate what is there in front of me.  With my art, I am constantly evolving and expanding my boundaries all the time.  I create what I want to see by studying the blank canvas of each gourd through birth, growth and harvest, and allow it to tell the story of what it should become."

(*I loved the moose so much, I had to create one for a Christmas gift!)
The San Diego Area Gourdpatch  is creating a collaborative "ZenDoodle Lady".  The Gourd was partitioned off with paisley designs by Kellie Delp, and the members are passing the gourd around now with each member completing a section.

Happy New Year!  I hope the upcoming year inspires you to try some new ideas and techniques!  To get you started, this month you will learn about the newest craze in the gourd world - Zentangles & Zendoodles. This style of drawing has been around for a while, but gourd artists are finding their own fresh way of adding doodle patterns to their gourds. 

Book Review:  "Apples to Apples"

Schiffer Publishing has just released a new book by Angela Mohr, and I received a review copy.       

The full title of this book is "Apples to Apples: Basic Techniques for Decorating Gourds".   The author, C. Angela Mohr, has written several other books, and like those, this book is geared to the beginning gourd crafter.

If you are an absolute beginner with no other gourd books, then this book may interest you.  It would be a good book for a teen or someone with very limited crafting experience.  The focus of the book is on decorating an apple gourd.  Very basic information includes how to clean a gourd, using spray paint, homemade dyes, shoe polish, Sharpie markers and nail polish for coloring, how to decoupage with Mod Podge, using rubber stamps and stencils, and very basic woodburning.

The book is well illustrated with plenty of clear photos, but there is very little to offer the experienced crafter for the $19.95 list price tag.  Before buying, look at the examples on the front cover - these are the actual projects presented inside. 

Recently released:   "Making more Gourd Ornaments" by Angela Mohr   February Release: "Antler Art for Baskets and Gourds"  by Betsey Sloane.      (These will be reviewed in future newsletters.)

Kathy Hamburger of Oklahoma writes: "I certainly have enjoyed your newsletter, have learned a lot from your site.   I so appreciate the sharing of your tutorials and information.   Several months ago, you had a short tutorial on Zendoodling.   That took me in a different direction, almost an addiction to this art form.   I have done over a dozen doodled gourds, each one is a "one of a kind".   Customers tend to pick these up, turn them around to view each side, read my scripture verses or poems.   Again, thanks so much for the inspiration."
Here's a great shot of two Zentangle pieces in progress from Gerri Bishop of Arizona.  You'll find more of Geri's wonderful work below, including photos of these pieces colored and finished!)
Gourds + Fiber

Coming Soon!
April 2011 Release from Lark Publishing
Most Voted for Titles and total number of votes:
The Complete Book of Gourd Craft (Summit & Widess) 13
Gourd Pyrography (Widess) 13
Gourds with Southwestern Motifs (Gibson)   13
Beyond the Basics Gourd Art (MacFarlane)          12
Complete Book of Gourd Carving (Summit & Widess)   10
InLace Techniques (Sloan)     8
New Gourd Art with Ink Dyes (Dellos)                           7
Coiled Designs for Gourd Art (Devine)                           6
Weekend Crafter: Gourd Crafts (Summit)                      6
The Decorated Gourd (Peterson)    6
Weaving on Gourds (Barnes)   5
Chip-Carving Gourds Rhem)   5
Pyrography Workbook (Walters)    4
Apples to Apples (Mohr)         4
Making Gourd Dolls (Summit & Widess) 4
Decorating Gourds Carving Burning Painting (Waters)    3
Making Gourd Musical Instruments (Summit & Widess) 3
Gourds and Fiber (Summit & Widess    3
Antler Art (Sloane)  3
Pine Needle Basketry (Mallow)       3
Gourds in Your Garden (Summit)   2
Glorious Gourds (Baskett)      2
Gourd Art Basics (Mohr) 2
Introduction to Pyrography (Wright)       2
Gourd Fun for Everyone (Crawford) 2

Titles receiving one vote:
Holiday fun: Painting Christmas Gourds (Crawford)
Gourd Purses (Conway) - out of print
Painting Flowers on Rocks (Wellford)
Gourds From Vine to Design (Kelver)
AGS Judging Handbook (AGS)
The Gourd Book (AGS)
The Gourd Journal (AGS)
Kumi-Himo on a Braiding Disk
Chip Carving Advanced Techniques (Rehm)
Gourds, Puppets and Dolls (Mohr)
The Gourd book (Heiser)
Wild Women of Gourdonia (Fabe & Helton)
Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction (Bain)
Quick and Easy Gourds (Baskett)
Historic Gourd Craft
Wildlife Carving in Relief (Irish)
Indian Designs (Willasenor)
Creative Gourds (Crawford)
Realistic Wildlife Painting for Decorative Artists (Dakota)
Wildlife Designs (Walters)
Great Book of Floral Patterns (Irish)

*Want to see MY list of top gourd books?  Here is a ranked "Listmania" listing on Amazon
I've long been a fan of Gerri Bishop's work.  Gerry is a fellow Arizona artist, and her work is primarily florals and fantasy designs done with pyrography and colored pencils.  She's taken her work a step further with the addition of some doodle designs to the background of her gourds. 
Black and white doodle design gourd by Jackie Jurecek of South Carolina
Doodle necklace on a gourd scrap by Carolyn Medlin of California
Ann Light of New Jersey specializes in gourd masks - she had already been making them for many years with a variety of geometric designs.  Now she has expanded her designs a bit futher with more complicated zentangle like designs.
Susan Bidwell-Williams of AZ likes to use zendoodle patterns on her spirit gourds.
Gourd Humor -  Admit it - other people think what we do is funny or strange.  Even we can see the humor in things we do for the love of our hobby.    Click on the  video above to enjoy "What is a Gourder", and click on the cartoon above "The Creative Process" to see it in a larger, more readable format.  (It will open in a new window, simply close the window to return to the newsletter.) *Thanks to William Rowntree of for allowing me to reprint this cartoon.
Coming next month:  Gourd Pyrography.  Do you have good photos of your pyroengraved gourds?  Please send photos and any written information about yourself or your art that you'd like to include.  I will use as many pictures as possible. Photos should be sent to:
Jan Cunningham of Arizona created a gourd similar to the "shard" style pottery done by some of the Southwestern Native artists.  Not exactly a Zentangle, but Native artists discovered the beauty of repetitive geometric designs long before any of us were born.
I want to thank everyone for your support and business over the past year.  In these tough economic times, everyone thinks twice about their expenditures and activities.  My goal is to provide you with top notch service and great products at reasonable prices.  This is a one person business, so I work hard to fulfill orders promptly and to provide you with excellent customer service, as well as offering unusual and hard to find gourd tools and embellishments.  Thanks for thinking of Arizona Gourds when you buy gourd supplies! 
Below: Sylvia Gaines of Texas used gourd scraps with zentangle designs and striped sections of zentangles as part of these gourds.
Above: Carolyn Mitchell of Arizona has been doing zendoodle designs on gourd for a few months and enjoys adding a bit of color to her pieces.

Left: Becky Folsom of Florida created a doodle design with wax resist on one gourd, and markers on the second.
Darlene Propp of California submitted this Zentangle bowl.
New Pitt Pen Sets  Basic set of black pens in 4 tip sizes, and set of 6 basic colors in brush tips.  Available on the Kits, Displays and Supplies Page.