Arizona Gourds
(Somewhat unpredictable) news 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.
The first 3 books are fantastic, inspirational books showing finished contemporary woodturnings.  Gourd artists and woodturners inspire each other - and I have really enjoyed owning these three titles.  The first two are available used for a reasonable price and are a good purchase.

Whales and Dolphins Coloring Book is a good source for simple patterns, as are most of the other Dover coloring book titles.  Check this one out - very low price and other titles are also reasonably priced as well.

Creative Rims for Gourd Art is available as a pre-release with a lowest price guarantee from Amazon.  This book is due out soon - June 28th.
Doodling for Wood, Gourds and Drawing is a new take on Zentangle/Doodle patterns from gourd artist, Bettie Lake.  It is due out in December but is available for preorder from Amazon.

You might enjoy visiting my "Listmania" list on Amazon where I note some of my other top choices for gourd related books.  I hope to update it soon as several gourd titles have been released since I first created the list.

*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:

"NW Coast Orca"

Sample gourd from my recent NW Coast Sea Patterns class at Whidbey Island.
Printable PDF File
Newsletter Index - article and tip index from all the past newsletters
Newsletter Index
The Gourd Art Enthusiasts site continues to grow!  We have about 3875 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 GAE T-Shirt designs ! 
*Want to see my listing of top gourd books?  Here is my  "Listmania" listing on Amazon
"Like" Arizona Gourds on Facebook to get special offers, up to the minute news about new products and classes, and other gourding updates. (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:  Transferring Patterns

Do you have any helpful tips? We'd love to share them with our readers, and we'll be sure to
give you proper credit.   Please send them to:
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Unless othewise noted, photos and designs are copyright © 2014 by Bonnie Gibson and may not be used without express written permission.

Welcome to the July issue of the  Arizona Gourds newsletter! 
UpdateGourd Classes

There was a good discussion on one of the gourd groups recently about ways to transfer flat paper designs onto round gourds and what was the easiest method.  Of course you can just trim the paper close to the design and then cut slits around the edge so the paper lays flat, but there are other methods as well. 

Many suggested placing plastic wrap or "Press and Seal" over top of the pattern, then placing that over graphite.  The plastic wrap will crunch down the pattern and hold it while you trace.  You can also trace the design onto the plastic wrap with a sharpie before pulling it over the graphite - this eliminates a most of the wrinkles from the paper.  Note:  NEVER burn through plastic wrap or "Press and Seal".  It emits toxic fumes when burned.  

Several suggested tracing the pattern onto tissue paper, then applying the tissue to a gourd with a thin layer of glue.  When dry, burn the design, then use water to wipe away the tissue and glue.

Chris Pawlik had this simple trick - crumple up the pattern a few times and smooth out.  This breaks down the paper fibers so the pattern will conform to the gourd shape better when tracing patterns.  Just lay this over graphite, tape it down and trace.
Were you a winner of a top prize at 2014 AGS gourd competion?  Please read below. 
To reward excellence in artistry, and to promote interest in entering artwork in gourd competitions, Arizona Gourds will offer a special  2014 "Gourd Artistry" award including a cash prize.  This is our way of giving back to the gourding community.

This year, any gourd art that wins "Best of Show", "People's Choice" or "Best of Division" awards, OR is entered into a "Grand Master" category at any 2014 AGS gourd show, will be eligible to compete for a $100 cash award OR a $150 merchandise credit from Arizona Gourds.   In addition, a $50 donation will be made to the state society that hosted the show where the winner qualified.  (If the winning entry won awards at more than one show, the donation will be divided among these state societies.)   Other prizes may also be awarded depending on the number of entries received.

How to enter:  If your gourd meets one of these criteria, submit up to three photos of your prize winning gourd,  and at the end of 2014, the winner will be announced. Because the judges will be basing their decisions on photos and will not be able to see the finished piece, it is very important that clear, high quality photos are submitted!  It will be your responsibility to submit photos of your art, but competition chairpersons are strongly encouraged to submit the photo entries for all of the qualifying winners at their shows.  Please include information about your photo including at which show the prize was awarded, your full name and contact information, and any special information about the piece you would like to include.

After a show is completed, please send photos and information about each winning piece to: or  Please put "Gourd Artistry Award Submission" in the subject line. 
Entries may also be mailed to Arizona Gourds, 5930 N Camino Arizpe  Tucson, AZ 85718-4612

*  Entries to date:  3   - Hey Folks, there are a lot more winners out there.... send in your entries!
Whew! It is HOT here in the desert - with temperatures in the 100's most days since the end of May.  Because I'm used to the heat, it was quite a (nice) change to spend a week in Washington state during June.  There are some photos in the newletter showing some of the glorious scenery - and the water!  The Washington State Gourd Society had a workshop weekend on Whidbey Island and they even managed to provide some wonderful weather.  It was a lot of fun meeting new gourd friends and spending some quality time with them.

Another fun activity that I enjoyed this month was a visit to the National Association of Woodturners convention, which was held in Phoenix this year.  WOW - what an amazing display!  It was really fun to see how woodturners carve and embellish their turnings.  May of the techniques that gourders do originated from the woodturning world, but now some turners are borrowing from gourders as well.  Both of us are working on vessels, so it's not surprising that there are similarities.  Look for photos below.
Feature - Coyote or Buffalo Gourd

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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.

(Click on book cover for ordering information.)
I'm starting to think about possible fall classes.  The only classes firmly scheduled at this time are being held in Phoenix on October 25-26th. Some of these are already full. For more information or to register, please contact class coordinator Kathy Baylor at  Classes include Inlace Inlay, Peacock Feather and War Shirt.

Keep watching for more classes to be posted - or join the class updates list to hear about the new offerings.  I hope to schedule some more Tucson classes this fall.
Sale - 20  and 30 pc. Diamond sets on the Carving Burs page
These are great for carving, sanding and texturizing gourd pulp - do not use directly on gourd skin, use them on areas where the skin has been removed.
New - Glass Chevron Beads and Crow beads, resin eagle and bear claws. On the Embellishments and Beads page.

New - Finishing sanders with a long extension, and awesome gourd scrapers on the Tools Page.
This wonderful woodturning is from the Woodturners Convention in Phoenix.  By Rick Romano -this was a piece that was offered for sale in the "instant gallery" section of the show.
Reader's Mailbag
Hi Bonnie,  I wanted to share my finished project from your class. Had a great time and "ThankYou" for sharing your knowledge with all of us. I learned so much about how to use my tools. Christine Garrison - California  (Right)
New Project Packet!  The "War Shirt" project packet is now available on the Project Packets page.  Included with the project packet is a packet of suede texture medium that is sufficient to do 1-2 projects. Extra medium is available.
Beautiful Agate Focal Beads are drilled from top to bottom for hanging, or they can be inlaid into your gourd art.  Each one is real stone that has been dyed.  On the Inlay Supplies page.

Notice: I will be taking some family time and will not be shipping from July 21st - 30th.  I will ship orders that arrive during that time as quickly as possible in the order in which they were received.  Thank you for your understanding.  (It's always a good idea to order ahead of time if possible, as I may sell out of some items during classes.)
Washington State Gourd workshops at Whidbey Island.  I taught two sessions of a Northwest Coast style sea creature class at this event.  Students carved whales, seals, and lots of wave and water textures.  Students that attended either of the sessions were welcome to return on Sunday for a painting demonstration!   Other classes were being taught at the same time both indoors and outside under tents.  The weather was perfect, and it was a fun event for everyone.
Last month, I published this photo of a wild gourd plant and identified it incorrectly.  The plant shown here is a buffalo gourd and not a coyote gourd. 

For years, most of the people I've met have used the two terms interchangeably, but Mary Gayle Van Ingen kindly sent me information showing the difference between the two varieties.  There are actually many additional varieties of similar wild gourds that are often lumped together under these names!

The leaves of the buffalo gourd (Cucurbita foetidissima) are typically entire and heart shaped, while coyote gourds (Cucurbita palmata) have palmate leaves as seen below.   Buffalo gourds grow in semi-arid and areas and require 5-8 months of warm weather.  They are edible when the gourd is very small but become too bitter as they mature.  Some animals eat the entire plant as fodder. The Buffalo gourd is found from the lower  midwest states through the southwestern states.
Lion's Paw shell pendants are back in stock on the Embellishments page.  This beautiful mask made by Karen Phillips shows how nice they look.

NEW!  To make pages load faster, we have added a new page to our site:
"Earrings and More".  Check it out!
These beautiful gourds are by Michelle Green.  Michelle was teaching a class how to carve the owl gourd.
Greenbank Farms provided this lovely old barn for indoor classes.  The barn has been renovated into a center that holds a variety of events and has a resaturant and shops.
While in Washington, we took a couple of days to visit the area.  We especially enjoyed visiting the Boeing Factory where they build large planes, and I loved seeing the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building near Port Townsend.  The instructors graciously allowed me to come in and take photos of all of the beautiful handmade wooden boats in progress. 
Coyote gourds have distinctively different leaves from the Buffalo gourd.  The gourd itself is inedible due to the bitter compounds they produce, however, the seeds are edible.  Interestingly, after the plant has gone to fruit, the stems dry up and wither away, later to re-sprout from the tuberous root once sufficient rains return.

There is yet another similar variety called "Bitter Melon" or "Fingerleaf Gourd", scientific name Cucurbita digitata.  The leaves of C. Palmata  and C.Digitata plants look very similar when they are immature, but become distinctive as they mature.  The leaves of C. Digitata are much more slender and finger like.  They also have different root structures. Both of these varieties of gourds are mostly restricted to the southwestern part of the United States, and the northern part of Mexico. 

Buffalo Gourd Vines
Above:  Coyote Gourd Vines and Gourd
Photo @2011 by Laura Hartley and  Used with permission.

Left: Bitter Melon Gourd leaves and fruit.  This plant was growing in Tucson, AZ
Reader's Mailbag
This gourd, "The Dancer"  is very unique as the skirt was made from the inside dried membrane I harvested from a very large gourd. It has been treated with Powetex acrylic fabric hardener and left a natural color except for the natural lace which i painted. Her upper torso,head,hands and hat are made of gourds. The clothing is wine colored raffia dipped in the Powertex and painted with metallic acrylics.   Linda Hughes - Texas
Reader's Mailbag
Hi Bonnie,  I finished the gourd I started under your tutelage in Blue Diamond.  I’m pleased with the final results.  I think it shows the lessons learned and well as remaining  true to my “look”. Jana Ward - Nevada  (Left)
Reader's Mailbag
Hey Bonnie, I just wanted to tell you that I still enjoy carving. My hands are not as strong as they use to be, but I can take extra time to finish my projects, when necessary.  I did this one with an alligator carved around a gourd, where I chip carved the ripples on his back and added a coiled pine needle rim on this gourd.  A small metal scuba diver with a spear balances on the rim. This is my favorite thing I made this year.   Josephine (Phiny) Musgrove - Georgia
Special Feature - AAW International Woodturning Symposium 2014

This is a once a year event put on by the American Association of Woodturners, and it attracts woodturners from all over the world.  This year it was held in Phoenix so it was a good opportunity for me to go.  Next year it will be held in Pittsburgh, and if you live nearby it is well worth the time.  If you go, the gallery and tool vendor areas are open to the public.  You have to register if you want to attend the seminars.  These photos are just a fraction of the amazing pieces I saw.

Clockwise from upper left:

Jim Christiansen

Binh Pho

John Wessels

J Paul Fennell

Pat & Peggy Booker

Reader's Mailbag
Dear Bonnie, I want to share this story so it doesn't happen to someone else.  I had been working on a gourd for most of the day, and decided to take a break.  I walked from my workshop into the kitchen, taking out my earplugs that I wear for carving as I walked out of the room.  In about 5 minutes I smelled smoke, and when I went to the workroom, it was filled with smoke and flames were going up the wall.  I had a fire extinguisher but when I pulled the pin and tried to use it, it didn't work.  I made several frantic running trips to the kitchen with whatever I could find that would hold water.  The fire was so bad that I  could hardly see through the smoke, and the window glass exploded in our large patio door.  Finally, I was able to put out the fire - but the whole time I kept wondering what could have started the fire since I hadn't even been using a woodburner.  I thought perhaps it was an electrical fire, but after looking at the area, I figured out that it must been caused by my heat gun.  As I left the room, I must have bumped into a tool, which hit the heat gun switch.  Because it runs fairly quiet and I was wearing earplugs, I didn't hear it start.  I lost a lot of tools in the fire, not to mention the damage to our home which will include new flooring, drywall and a patio door, plus a whole lot more.  I wanted to share the story to remind people that it is important to always check your work are when you leave it, and to make sure you have a good working fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.  Fires happen fast - this took no more than 10 minutes from start to finish,  I will definitely be a lot more careful from now on!  Jennifer Hershman - Montana
Note: It is very important to be safe and plan ahead for emergencies.  Consider plugging your tools into a surge protected power strip, and turn off the strip whenever you leave the room.  At the very least, check your fire extinguishers and have one nearby.  It is easy to forget to turn something off, and making a point of always double checking that tools are off is a good idea.  I'm glad Jennifer shared this so we can avoid a similar situation.