Arizona Gourds
September updates from the desert southwest...
Welcome to the September 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:

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.
Charms from Mother Earth isn't a gourd book; rather, it is a book of poetry.  However, the book is extensively illustrated by Leah Comerford, a wonderful gourd artist.  If you are familiar with her gourd "visions" technique (finding hidden characters in the natural gourd markings) then you'll enjoy seeing her lovely artwork in this book.

For those who dream of sculpting faces on gourd dolls or creating gourd sculptures, the next three titles are for you.  The material is not specific to gourds - but each book has valuable information on art techniques or design ideas that will aid you in your gourd work.

The last two titles are available as pre-releases. They will be out in the fall. Pre-ordering will guarantee you a 33% discount or more. 

Antler Art for Baskets and Gourds is by Betsey Sloan, who also wrote Inlace Techniques: Resin Inlay for Gourd and Wood Crafts
Weaving on Gourds is by Marianne Barnes.
(*Some of my gourd art is included in these two books.)
*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 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:

Crown Dancer
I've had this gourd for several years, so decided it was time to do something fun with it.  This is my version of an Apache Crown Dancer.  It stands about 18" tall.
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September Feature -  Gourd Sculptures

Last month, we highlighted 4 artists that were doing some interesting work with gourd sculptures.  Many people wrote to say how much they enjoyed seeing these scuptures, so we are continuing it as a full length feature this month.  Enjoy!


Tip of the Month - Handy measuring tools
Thanks to Darlene Propp of California for suggesting the following item she recently found online; adhesive measuring tape.

*Do you have a tip or tutorial we can feature here?  Please contact me.
Dremel Flex Shafts are back in stock!  You'll find them on the Rotary Tool Accessories page, and at a lower price than you'll find at your local stores.  On the same page, you'll also find other accsessories such as these Large Bur Boxes.  These are unbreakable and lightweight, have a carrying handle, and best of all, the burs won't fall out when you tip or  transport the case.

Back in Stock:  Brad Point Drill Bits The spike on the end of the drill keeps the bit in place - no more skittering burs or need for starter holes!  You'll find them on the Tools page.   NEW - Large head cylinder shape structured tooth carbide burs from Saburr Tooth!  These 1/8" shaft burs have a 1/2" head (similar in size to a Dremel sanding drum), and the larger head makes it possible to hold the tool in a flatter position for cutting backgrounds and ripples.  They work fast!  They sold out fast last month, but more are now available on the Carving Burs page.
Printable PDF File
I think most of my gourd buddies have been finding weaving, painting, or other aspects of gourd crafting that they can do indoors.  It's been a hot and humid summer for almost everyone, but hopefully September will be better for those messy, outdoor activities!

Right: Nikki Ogle sent this photo showing what happens when you put off your gourd carving for a day or two.  This gourd plant has a death grip on her foredom tool!

Notice:  I will be teaching classes in Michigan and will be out of the shop from September 16th to the 20th.  Orders placed during this time will be held and shipped on September 21st.  Thanks for your orders, and for your patience while I am away.

Carol Kroll has a degree in textile design and worked in the industry for many years, but her artistic talents are now being used to create some beautiful fine art gourd sculptures. 

"Curiosity" (Below) won an award at the 53rd National Juried Art Show in Rocky Mount, NC. My inspiration for "Curiosity" came from the beautifully unusual and spectacular shapes and colors found in ocean life. The cluster in the center of this piece is made up of small jewelry gourds attached together using clay.

"Within" (Right) is my depiction of plant and human cells. I used a Foredom power tool to carve out  two helixes which run up opposite sides to meet in the middle. Inside this sculpture (not shown) is a carved out nerve cell and within that I painted images of algae cells. The base is a section of another gourd which I attached with a screw and wood knob.


Newsletter Index - article and tip index from all the past newsletters
Newsletter Index
UpdateGourd Classes

It's almost time! I will be teaching classes at the Michigan Gourd Festival
September 17-19.   Registration is available on their festival website
*Join the class updates list to receive advance notice of upcoming classes.  Get the news first and have the best chance for popular classes! 
Reader's Mailbag
Sharon Beasley of Mississippi writes: 
I thought I’d send you pictures of my latest endeavor. It’s a inverted bottle gourd for the tree and a cannonball gourd for the inside. There is a lid on the cannonball gourd so wishes and dreams can be put in for safekeeping.  This is called "Tree of Dreams".
Special Feature - Spotlight on Janet Cobat - Metal Artist

Below: "Hard Letting go of Mama"

I travel a lot and see people reading with these all the time.  The price was just lowered significantly - you might want to check it out
Find out why everyone is excited about using Apoxie Sculpt -and we'll even include a free tips sheet of useful information for working with the product.

Many of the top gourd sculptors use Apoxie Sculpt for extra strong, seamless joints!

Notice:  The manufacturer has informed me of a substantial price increase as of October 1st.  Buy now to get the old pricing.
Janet Cobat of Arizona has a degrees in art and art education, but considers herself primarily a metal artist.  She has been working as a metal artist for almost 30 years, and specializes in engraving and creating copper dies for printing companies.  The years of knowledge and experience gained from silversmithing and engraving have influenced her approach in creating decoative gourds. 

Janet uses 16-gauge or thinner copper on her gourds.  She uses a process called photo etching;  a copper plate is cleaned and then coated with a light sensitive material.  This film is exposed with a high intensity arch light, and then pictures are scanned into a computer and transferred to a film processor.  She mainly chooses copyright free etchings from the 1800’s.   Once the plates are exposed, they are etched with ferric acid.  The plates are then cut to size and drilled with weaving holes. The metal is softened by heating the plates in a kiln at 11,000 degrees for 15 minutes.  This allows her to form a bowl shape for lids and inserts.

In the past few months, Janet has been experimenting with faux leather tooling and wood burning.  She likes to weave with old telephone wire but finding this type of wire is difficult. Consequently, she has started using pine needles and natural fibers.  She also likes to add copper feathers and small attachments and inserts on her gourds. 

Reader's Mailbag
I would like to thank you for the parcel I received today, all in good speed!  I adore your book and the tutorials are going to keep me busy for a very long time.Thanks for all the fantastic ideas, and tips, it helps a lot.  I am hard at work trying to establish Namgourd Patch in Windhoek and I hope other towns will follow suit.  Best regards.  Estè Wiggill - Namibia, Africa
Phyllis Sickles of Arizona makes wonderful sculptures of nature scenes, animals and plants.  Phyllis is a retired elementary school art teacher, and since retiring has finally found the time and inclination to pursue her own art projects.  I am thrilled to live close enough to Phyllis so that we can carve together and share ideas.  You can see many more of her pieces on her website.

Jennifer Zingg is a Kentucky artist and an art teacher as well.  She keeps very busy with teaching middle school age students and creating her own art that is displayed in fine art galleries. Her favorite pieces to make are zoological and figural sculptures.
You can see more on her website.

Left:  "The Woman Who fell Through the Sky", which is based on an Iroquois creation myth.

Below: "Governor's Horse" - Equine Gourd Sculpture


Sammie Crawford of Arkansas (AKA "The Fairy Gourdmother")  has authored several gourd project books including the popular 
"Gourd Fun for Everyone".  I was pleased to meet Sammie in person when she came to take my classes recently in Kentucky.  When she arrived, she brought along this wonderful and whimsical sculpture of the Tortoise and the Hare.  (It's a large piece - here is a photo of Sammie holding it so you can see the size!)

Kentucky Gourd Classes
We had a great time teaching classes in Taylorsville, KY last month.  Our host, Janet Barnett, (President of the KY Chapter of the AGS) treated us like family, and all of the students were hardworking and receptive.  It was a real pleasure to visit and meet so many new gourd friends!  We had wonderful indoor facilities for the classes so everyone stayed cool.
We got a big kick when we visited the Kentucky Gourd Society's storage facility - it's the old Taylorsville jail building!  Nobody is going to steal their t-shirts and display items!  The photos are funny when you realize I was wearing stripes that day....  

Good food in strange places - when we drove up I thought this was a junkyard or a a farm implement company.  No, it actually was a BBQ place with great food.  We also got to visit Mrs. Sander's (yes, the Colonel's wife) restaurant while we were there.
Due to a glitch on the KY signup page, we ended up with more students than expected.  However, everyone had plenty of room and they did a great job on their projects.
Taylorsville is also the location for the annual KY gourd show.  It's a beautiful area and I enjoyed seeing lots of water and lush green growth.
Reader's Mailbag
Thanks Bonnie, for your thoughtful gift you sent in my last order. Will the elves also come and clean the house while I am gourding at the picnic table?   TTFN Susan Moryl - New York

*It's nice to know that gourders have a good sense of humor!     :)
The Gourd Art Enthusiasts site continues to grow!  We now have 1250+ members and close to 4200 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 !
Coming next month: Gourd Musical Instruments. Do you have a unique, interesting, unusual, or just beautifully done gourd instrument?  Please send photos and a bit about yourself and your instrument(s).  We'd love to share your talents with everyone!  Please send your info to
Our shirts were designed by Kathy Renteria of Iowa - here is a bit about our winning artist:

"I fell into this love of gourds completely by accident several years ago when my late husband and I were selling Mexican food at our downtown Farmers market under a tent with a fryer and a few tables and chairs.  We did very well and one day he drug home this old trailer that we gutted out and made a vending trailer just big enough for 2 people.  It was so plain that being an artist, I just had to jazz it up a bit.  I painted a mural on the outside of the trailer of scenes of the desert in bloom, and adobes, cactus and pottery.  He then built a cactus out of furnace pipe and I painted it to look like a cactus.  We put a sombrero on top and I added a serape then I put a Indian blanket around the base with some pottery that I made out of  gourds that someone had given me.   Within 2 weeks I had people bring them up to the counter to see how much they were and thus started my love of gourds.

I quit doing the Market when my husband passed away in 2003 but I have always kept up with my gourd art and am proud to say that I am a complete Gourdhead!  Not only that, but my new guy flew me down to Arizona in 2008 and I fell in love with the scenery and the people.  I have always been drawn to the Southwest but had never seen it except in pictures.  He has helped me a lot with my gourds and took me to the Wuertz Gourd Farm.  I felt like a kid in a candy store! I missed the Festival because I had to get back to work, but I had most of the compartments of our RV packed full with enough gourds to last me at least a couple of years.  Now this year I was able to retire early from my job and will get to spend my winters in Arizona from now on.  We will be leaving Iowa in September to travel north up by Canada. (Some great Northern Indian artwork and totems up there.)  We will then circle the west coast and be in Arizona in December.  I plan to keep a blog of our travels and want to visit as many gourd farms and festivals as we can along the way. We will head home via New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas. Missouri and Chicago. 

I really hope I can take some of your classes while at the gourd festival or while I am in Arizona.  Please keep me informed as to any classes you will be offering at that time.  I know they fill up so fast so I will sign up that day to be sure I get a spot."

(Click on the designs to see them on t-shirts, aprons, mugs, and other merchandise from Cafe Press)
This adhesive measuring rule tape is a kraft paper tape with adhesive backing which can be used as a repositionable ruler. It is a yellow paper tape printed black with markings. It is great for tough situations where a tape measure will not fit. Every 1/8 of an inch is marked and it is numbered 1 through 12 at each inch designation. It then repeats itself every 12 inches.
Below:  Thin masking tape and quilter's tape are 1/4 inch wide tapes that are great for laying out designs on your gourd projects.  The thin size makes it easy to curve the tape for special designs.  (Be sure to check the packaging for pricing and amount of tape - the quilter's tape shown on the right has much more tape for only a bit higher price.)
*Another simple way to mark gourds is to stretch a large, heavy rubber band around a gourd and use a fine marker to add evenly spaced lines. You can use this over and over.   Of course, the distance between the lines will vary depending on the gourd size, but generally they will remain evenly spaced.
A local reporter did an nice article on my visit and on the classes.  Click the icon above to read the article.
These old boots with the hen and chicks were sitting on the front steps of the jail building.  I thought they were a  great touch.