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November Feature: Florida Gourd Retreat and the Texas Gourd Festival
I have really enjoyed my opportunities to travel and meet gourders from all over the country. I had a fantastic time at the Florida Gourd Society's Fall Retreat in late September and at the Texas Gourd Festival in October. It's always a great inspiration to spend time with others that are excited about gourds! Below are some photos from the Florida and Texas trips, and some pictures from the Texas gourd competition.
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November updates from the desert southwest...
Welcome to the November issue of the Arizona Gourds newsletter!
Thanks for checking out the latest news! Feel free to pass the newsletter link along to your friends.
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Featured Books of the Month:
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.
Lora Irish has revised two of her most popular books and they are availble for pre-order now. Wildlife Carving in Relief is probably one of the best books out there for people that want to learn relief carving. The information transfers to gourd extremely well. Her Great Book of Floral Patterns book is full of patterns, and this revised edition has even more than the first issue.
Woodcarvers books often have lots of great carving info. If you have any interest in basic techniques, these Power Tools and Techniques books are good resources.
Draw Horses is another good drawing book for a popular subject, and Southwestern Pottery is one of the best resources (and at a very reasonable price) for those that want reference photos of southwestern Native pottery. This is one of my favorite books.
*Click on each book title to view it on Amazon. They have some great reviews to help you decide if the book is of value to you, and they also offer suggestions for other related titles of interest.
*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.
This cannonball gourd has an added lid with a handle made from a chopstick. The gourd has turquoise cabochons and gold leaf accents.
Tip of the Month: Carving and Burn Marks
Have you ever noticed burn marks when you carve with power tools? (Most of the time will not cause any problems, as you usually sand or smooth carved areas.) This is a fairly common occurrence, here are some of the common causes and solutions:
1)The bur is dirty and needs to be cleaned. Place dirty burs in a small jar with some acetone or similar solvent and soak for a bit. Scrub the bur clean with a brass cleaning brush. This is suitable for all burs. CARBIDE burs ONLY may be flamed with a small butane or propane torch; this will burn off the resins that clog the bur and will not hurt the bur. Brush away the ashy residue with a brass brush after flaming. This method can be dangerous, so use great care to avoid burning yourself. DO NOT use this method on steel burs, as they will lose their temper and will no longer hold a sharp edge. When in doubt, use the acetone method.
2) Your bur is dull and needs to be replaced. Most burs will last a long time, but with heavy or improper use, they can become dull.
3) Your gourd is extremely hard and resinous. Gourds such as apples, cannonballs, and gourds grown in harsh desert conditions are often extremely hard and may contain excessive resins in the skin. They are fine for carving, but your burs will clog quickly. Clean them often.
4) You are carving slowly and creating friction by keeping the bur in one place for too long. With practice, you will be able to more the bur more rapidly and with a lighter touch. This will reduce the heat build up caused by friction.
5) Your tool is running at an inefficient speed. Try adjusting the speed up or down to see if this eliminates the burn marks.
Last month, people that placed an order had a chance to win a special piece of dichroic glass, each valued at $7 - $12. Congratulations to the randomly selected winners of last month's prizes:
Madeline Rodriquez - Vista, CA
Stella Tinker - Brownwood, TX
Kimberly McEachin - Hawthorne, FL
Carolyn Hawze - Conover, NC
Cheryl Lewis - Oswego, KS
Debra L. Burckhard - Rapid City, SD
Joyce France - West Plains, MO
Mary Oliver - London, KY
Ed Rettig - Blodgett, OR
La Verne Romano - Yerington, NV
Printable PDF File
Update: Gourd Classes
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 plenty of spaces in all of the classes. Register for classes on the After Midnight website. If you need lodging nearby, contact Linda Hanson.
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 can see photos of the retreat site here. You can also email Marcia or call her at 860-563-8180. Class signups and more detailed information to follow soon.
Everyone is probably enjoying the cooler fall temperatures (and maybe some snow?) and starting to get excited for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Now is the time to get to work on those unfinished gourd projects or to start new ones so you'll have some wonderful homemade gifts for friends and family this year.
Last year I made a gourd turkey as a gift for my Stepmom to enjoy for Thanksgiving ( it was the least I could do since she hosted and cooked most of the dinner!) This year I'm going to give my friends and family a hand carved Santa pencil, thanks to instructions from Cecil Walley at the Florida Gourd Retreat. Cecil also showed me how to make a handcarved twig rooster - it was a fun change to carve with knives instead of power tools.
In the August newsletter, I showed the start of a large carousel horse carving. Some people asked to see the finished results. Here is the horse all painted and assembled with brass poles. I used double poles underneath, so that a child can actually sit on it safely. The horse measures about 32" long and the same height to the top of the pole. All decorations have been carved from the wooden block, nothing has been added.
NEW - I have modified the Nightlight kits so they are now more affordable! Several people indicated that they would prefer to use their own gourds to create the nightlight shades. The instruction sheets have been rewritten to include additional patterns, photos, and directions for cutting and preparing a gourd shade using your own small gourd. The price of the kit has been cut substantially, just in time to start making holiday gifts! You'll find these on the Kits and Displays page.
Update:It's now easier to find articles in past Arizona Gourds newsletters!
With over 3 years of newsletters, it was becoming time consuming find a specific article or tip in old issues. To make things easier to find, I've compiled a new "Newsletter Index" page complete with a list of the main articles and tips. A link to the index is available at the bottom of all newsletter pages, on the home page, and on the site map bar at the bottom of each page.
Note: I will be traveling to teach classes in Indiana, and will not be shipping orders from November 12th to the 16th. Orders placed during that time will be sent out in the order they were received just as soon as I return.
I recently came across an interesting website that has some gourds from South Africa and central African nations. Many have intricate wire work or are elaborately beaded. The site is Galerie Ezakwantu. It's alway interesting to see how gourds across the world draw us all closer. Also, check out this gourd dress - it was made by a Nigerian dress designer for a 2008 "Fashion for Peace" fashion show held in Kenya. If you are interested, you can read more about the event and see more photos of other wild fashions on the Reuters news page.
Special Feature - Completed Carousel Horse Carving
In your news letter you did a piece on gourd lights and different lighting. I am sending you a picture of a night light I made from a banana gourd, turkey feather, arrow heads and sanded paint with a piece of turquoise; and a cowboy rope with a small Christmas light with a double AA battery pack placed in the bottom of the light. I am also sending a picture of a piece I did that St. Marys Hospital bought to be put on display there. This is kind of nice because both my children and grandson were born there. I still have a long way to go but your classes, patience, and tools have really helped me to get this far. THANK YOU Clint Appelt - Reno, Nevada
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 email@example.com 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.
Back in stock - nice quality Ammonite Fossils. These vary in color and size, but most of the peices are about 1" to 2". Each fossil is split into a matched pair, and each piece is beautifully polished. You'll find these near the bottom of the Inlay Supplies page.