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 2 books children's titles  Both are great gifts for young children - especially those with Grandparents who are bitten by the gourd bug!  These are lovely tales with gourds as an integral part of the story.

The 2 feather books are reference material for those who are interested in either replicating the look of raptor feathers for use in Native American regalia (or on gourd masks!)  or for those that want to carve realistic feathers and need good reference material for painting. I personally own "Focus on Feathers" but if you want something less expensive, "The Art of Simulating Eagle Feathers" may be a better alternative for you.

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:

"Wolf Clan"

Large gourd, carved - nothing added but acrylic paint.
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 well over 4000 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:  Tips for using Air Dry Clays

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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*ALL Amazon purchases made through site links and the search box help support  Arizona Gourds and the Gourd Art Enthusiasts websites, and it costs you nothing extra!
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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 September issue of the  Arizona Gourds newsletter! 
UpdateGourd Classes

Air dry clays like Das, Creative Paper Clay and Critter Clay depend on the evaporation of moisture to cure.  Here are some common problems and how to fix/avoid them.

Getting cracks in your project?   The clay layer may be too thick. Either build up in layers,  or simply go back and fill the cracks once the initial layer is dry.   Adding too much water as you work with the clay can also create cracking simply because you have watered out the binding agent.  Some people lightly sand the finished project, while others coat the surface with a thinned layer of white glue.

Clay isn't sticking to the gourd?   Use white glue applied to the gourd surface before you add the clay.

Clay drying out too fast? To slow the process of drying you can place in a cool room and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Don't seal it completely just cover lightly.  You can also use a damp paper towel over the surface to retard drying. 

Clay dries in package?  It is imperative that the clay remains sealed and air tight.  You can add a damp paper towel or baby wipe to the open end of the package before sealing.  Squeeze out every bit of air (some people use a vacuum food saver!) and double bag when done.

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 eligible entries out there.... send in your photos!  Show Chairmen:  You can also submit your winners.  This award will be discontinued if nobody bothers to enter this year!!!    
August was a quiet month for most people with the culmination of family vacations and people getting children ready for the start of school.  This is the time of year where I usually can grab a few days to work on my own projects (not always gourds) and try to get caught up!  Now that the weather will be cooling down for most of the country, it's time to get out those gourd tools and work on some messy projects before the colder winter weather is upon many of you.  

After selling your gourds at craft fairs of festivals, I'm betting many of you get tired of answering the same questions over and over.  This tshirt is a tongue-in-cheek response to some of those questions.  It is sold on the cafe press website if you are interested in ordering one of your own!  The shirt is also available in light colors as well.
Here is a link to the cafe press website.
Special Feature - Doodle Art Tips

INTRODUCTION TO DOODLE ART is a small PDF book written by Paula Jarvis  Paula has kindly given me permission to share this PDF in my newsletter.  Below are an excerpt (the introduction) and a sample photo from her book.  The book has many photographs and drawings with would be helpful for doing doodle type designs on your gourd projects.  This PDF is copyrighted by Paula Jarvis. For permission to reprint, contact “Paula Jarvis (Paula Podwys)” via Facebook. 

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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.)
Classes currently scheduled and with spaces available:   "War Shirt" - offered in Sun Lakes, AZ on Friday, October 24th.  "Peacock Feather" will be offered in Phoenix on Sunday, October 26th.

For class descriptions, please check the "Classes" page on the Arizona Gourds website.
New - Finishing sanders with a long extension, and awesome gourd scrapers on the Tools Page.
Reader's Mailbag
Dear Bonnie, If your neck was itching this last weekend it was because your name came up in discussions with some gourd artist at the 2014 Ruiodoso Art Festival in July. I entered three of my gourd pieces for the competition, and my gourd titled "Sea Bound" was awarded a first place ribbon, Best in Class and Best in Show.

I was so surprised and honored . I was also very happy that gourd art was given so much credit in a show with 120 artist representing different art  medias. We were told by many participants that this was the first time that gourd art was chosen Best of Show in the 40+ years it has been going on or at least in their memories . My wife was also juried in for the show and I consider it a team award because I consult with her on my pieces.  

I wanted to share this with you because I took a carving class from you several years ago and you were so encouraging.
Thank you  - Roy Cavarretta, TX

* Congratulations!  I love to hear about nice wins like this one where a gourd competes against other mediums.
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 Earrings and More page.

Drilled Magnesite Butterfiles can be added to rims or inset into the gourd surface.  On the Inlay Supplies page.
NEW!  To make pages load faster, we have added a new page to our site:
"Earrings and More".  Check it out!
Reader's Mailbag
I want to thank you for the newsletter you write each month. What a lot of information you provide in them. I. Just wanted you to know that your hard work is appreciated. THANK. YOU!!!   Debby Lipan

*Thank you Debby - it's a labor of love. ;)
Special Feature - Product Reviews: Critter Clay & PC Lumber

I recently received a samples of two clay products to experiment with.  The first clay is made by Aves Studios, the makers of Apoxie Sculpt.  The clay is a single part, water based air dry clay called "Critter Clay".  This clay is white or grey in color and works almost identically to working with stoneware type clay that has to be fired - but this clay is an air dry product.  Critter Clay is used often by taxidermists for sculpting and mounting eyes because it allows for fine detail and texture and has low shrinkage.  The clay is non-toxic and lightweight when dry.

My friend Phyllis Sickles came over and we had fun experimenting with a l lb. block of clay.  We decided to use the clay to create a variety of textures on our gourds.   We applied a layer of Tacky white glue to the gourd to make sure the clay would stay on the gourd even after it dried.  We only used simple tools and used a bit of water to smooth and shape the clay, and I even inset some stones directly into the clay.  Working time for the clay was about 45 minutes.   The clay appeared to be wet even the next day, but it was actually hard and dry and just retained the dark, wet look appearance.  The clay was carvable with power tools but I wouldn't recommend much of that unless you use old burs, as the clay is stone like and very hard when dry.  We did notice a bit of shrinking and cracking on large areas, even though the manufacturer says shrinkage is low.  Our feeling was that our hot, dry desert climate caused the clay to dry so quickly that it might have been better to cover the clay with a damp paper towel and allow it to dry a bit slower.  The finished pieces were painted with acrylics and patina paints. 
*Manufacturer recommends using as little water as possible to avoid shrinkage or cracking over a hard gourd surface.
In comparison, I would probably use DAS clay more often, but only because it is easier to obtain and easier to carve and sand when dry.  Still, it was fun to give Critter Clay a try.  If you are interested in trying it yourself, it is now available on the Apoxie Sculpt page.

Yes, this is a GOURD
Yes, they are for sale
Your Mom grows them? Nice.
Yes, there are seeds in them.
No, I don't make birdhouses.
Yes, you could copy my gourd -
but I'd rather you'd buy mine.
Have a nice day!
"Everyone who can hold a pen or pencil has doodled at one time or another. Some people doodle while talking on the telephone. Others do it during meetings or while waiting in the doctor’s office. 
Some doodles are simple repetitive abstract patterns, such as triangles, squares, and concentric circles. Other doodles represent objects—arrows, simple houses, stick figures, suns, stars, hearts. With just a little effort, these random patterns and pictures can be turned into small pieces of art—and anyone can do it.
Turning doodles into art can be done by children, adults, and senior citizens. No previous experience or art training is required, and even people who claim they can’t draw a straight line will surprise themselves with what they can produce.
Best of all, you don’t need to buy a long list of expensive art supplies. To get started, all you need is paper and a pen or pencil and a few tips to help you begin.
On the following pages, you will find resource information and samples of the shapes and patterns that you will learn about and practice in my doodle art class. With this information, you, too, will soon be able to turn your doodles into art."

Special Feature - Book Reviews

I have acquired 4 books of interest to gourders - two are directly related to gourds, while the other two are wood turning books that are of interest because our two mediums are very similar when looking at the finished product.

I reviewed Marianne Barnes's  "Creative Embellishments for Gourd Art" in the April 2014 Arizona Gourds newsletter.  Her newest book, "Creative Rims for Gourd Art" is another offering from Schiffer Publishing, and is an extension of her earlier books on weaving and coiling with gourds.  I know Marianne personally and it is always a challenge to write a fair and unbiased review when you know the person and like them.
"Creative Rims" was a bit of a disappointment, as I was hoping for some really new and innovative (and creative!) rims that I haven't seen many times already.  This book is once again heavily dependent on input from other artists of differing abilities, who contributed photos, tips and tutorials on using different rim treatments.
All chapters are well illustrated with color photos and there are some minimal instructions scattered in the project chapters.  One of the best written and illustrated instructions was on leather braiding a rim - but this is an old technique that has been in leather work manuals since the turn of the century and has been in use on gourds for years.   Other techniques that are shown include things such as coiling, knotless netting,  and peyote beading.  Most of these techniques are covered much more thoroughly in many other publications and not all that well in this book.
All of the projects in this book are suitable for beginning gourders, and that is probably the target audience for this book.  More advanced gourders will not find this book to be very useful, but they will enjoy seeing some of the contributing artist gallery photos and using them as inspiration for their own future creations.   This book is full color and is 96 pages with a cover price of  $19.99.  Softcover.

The revised and expanded "Complete Book of Gourd Carving" is a re-release of the original book of the same name that was published in hardcover in 2004 by Sterling Publishing.  The latest softcover version is published by Fox Chapel and has been expanded by a 48 page gallery section addition to the book.  The rest of the book remains unchanged. 
The orginal publication was a great overview of carving technqiues, and while actual tutorials and instructions were limited, the scope of the subject and the quantity and quality of participating artists made the photo illustrations the true focus of the book.  The newest version reflects the advances that have been made in carving over the last 10 years, and the photos that are included are great examples of the strides that have been made artistically over the years.  *Disclaimer - some of my work is pictured in the original book and also in the new expanded gallery section. 
My only caveat for those purchasing this book would be that you realize that while some basic carving instruction is present, it is somewhat limited. Other books are available on specific carving techniques if you want to explore something further.   The true strength of this book is in introduction of many different types of carving, and the great photos of completed art that will inpire you.     Full color, softcover book.  238 pages, cover price is $24.99

"Wood Art Today - Furniture, Vessels, Sculpture" is a beautiful gallery style book by Dona Z. Meilach, and was publshed in 2004 by Schiffer Publishing.  I was excited to be introduced to this book and the sequel, "Wood Art Today 2"  (reviewed below) at the recent American Association of Woodturners convention.  Books have become so specialized that often you can't find them at local bookstores; and even bookstores are a vanishing breed.  You will more often find books such as this one at specialty stores geared to wood working, or at trade shows.  They are also available online but it is nice when you can actually flip through a copy. 
This book is designed for the contemporary wood art fan, or for anyone that admires exquisite craftsmanship and innovative artistry.  Some of the material may not speak to you if you are only interested in gourds or wood vessels, as this book includes furniture and sculpture as well.  However, the furniture and sculptures that are pictured (along with the vessels) are not just everyday, ordinary pieces.  These pieces are ART as well as finely crafted objects.  This is the kind of book you could pick up often and gather new inspirations every time you turn the page. You just have to be careful not to get drool on some of the pages!  All of the artists whose work is included in this book are extremely talented individuals, and many are recognized world wide for their stunning and creative pieces.
This book is in full color and very heavy with gorgeous photos.  Hardcover - 256 pages.  Cover price $59.95  (Note - while this is an expensive book, it is available for less online including used copies from Amazon.  It might be the type of book a club might consider adding to their library for shared member use.)

"Wood Art Today 2" was edited by Jeffery B Snyder and is the continuation of the original Wood Art book .  The newest edition was published in 2010, also by Schiffer Publishing.  Instead of laying out the book by subject like the previous edition, this one is laid out in alphabetical order by artist.  It is intended to be an overview of current trends in international woodworking.   Each artist includes an artist's statement along with a description of each piece. Some descriptions are very basic and include only the facts about material and size, while other artists go more in depth to tell of their inspirations or processes. The list of included artists is impressive and gourders will recognize some of the trends in gourd crafting that have originated from our wood working compatriots. Heavily illustrated throughout will full color photographs.    Hardcover - 256 pages. Cover price is $50.
*Have you "Liked" Arizona Gourds on Facebook in the past but now you are not seeing our daily art updates? 
FB has throttled all business posts severely and asking ups to pay to have you see them. I'm sorry - but my business model is based on word of mouth, not advertising dollars.   To continue seeing posts, you must visit our page, and put your cursor over "Liked" and look for the pop up box. Select "Get Notifications" (see the red arrow) and then you should see my posts in the future.  I promise to keep posting things of interest with very little advertising.
The next product I tried was "PC Lumber", a two part epoxy putty that essentially the same as "Quikwood" and is slso related to other epoxy based clays such as Apoxie Sculpt.  PC Lumber is made for wood repairs, but works great as a modeling clay for gourd projects.  It comes in a tube (various sizes) and has two parts packaged together into one roll.  You simply slice off whatever amount you desire, and then knead and mix the two parts together.  You have 15 minutes of working time and about an hour to full cure.  This product is similar to using Apoxie Sculpt except for a much shorter working time - so only mix however much you can use in a short time.  No special tools are required; I used a sharpened wood dowel, a hobby knife and just a bit of water to keep my fingers and tools damp.  The project shown here used PC Lumber to attach a wooden ring handle, and the little mouse was a layer of clay built up over top of a round wooden bead.  The material is carvable and paintable, and because it is epoxy based, it is strong.
Reader's Mailbag
Hi Bonnie,  I really meant to enter AGS crafting contest this time!  It was finally the perfect category for me.  Drat.  I missed the the deadline.   Graham Ottoson - NY

*It's a nice piece - so I'm happy to show it here in the newsletter as a consolation prize. ;)  
New Contest!  Send us a  photo of your gourd art that uses either these agate beads or  magnesite butterflies as embellishments, and you could win a copy of either  "Creative Embellishments for Gourd Art" or "Creative Rims for Gourd Art".  Just send your photo to Please include your name and mailing address along with your photo.  Deadline for entry is the end of September.