Simple Gourd Vases for Spring

We recently wrote a blog post about creating your own mod podge vases at home.

Another idea would be to make your own gourd vase with out the decoupage! All you need is a penguin gourd and some paint! (And someone handy that can saw the top off of your raw gourd.) With some bright paints and artificial spring flowers, you can make this easy craft into a home decoration for the new season!

gourd vases in our retail store

Try turning your vases into Valentine’s Day decorations! Paint the gourds pink or red to give your seasonal decorating a boost! This simple craft is sure to add a pop of color to your home.

White Christmas

Doesn't this just scream out for some ribbon or a Petite Splendor? White_Christmas_1.com

You can be sure to have a white Christmas this year no matter where you live if you just get a little creative with your decorations.  Have any old wreaths around?  Maybe the color has faded in spots or there are tiny cracks or stains.  Or pick a wreath up at a craft store.  You can get a really inexpensive one, one that might look pretty cheesy on its own.  And while you’re there, pick up some white florist’s paint.  You can use other spray paint, but florist paint interacts better with most surfaces – like plastic or especially natural wreaths.  Grab some white place settings, too.  You may do better at a party store for that.  But in either case, get solid colored plates and such.

Toss some Gourducopia ornaments on the plate. interior-design-do-it-yourself.com

Now, spray everything white.  That cheap plastic plate suddenly becomes elegant, and that old wreath looks fresh and clean.  Have any stray beads or little balls from other decorations?  Spray them white and arrange them around some pillar candles on one of your newly elegant plates (for decoration only of course), and you’ve got a beautiful, easy, inexpensive centerpiece.  You can see to the right how a pale accent color adds to the look.

Use one of our winter luminaries instead of pillar candles.

Or instead of candles, use one of our tall luminaries.  Or scatter some of our Petite Splendors among the white balls and ornaments for some color.  Or even better, use some of the ornaments that are the Products of the Month. Have fun and be creative.  It’s amazing how a coat of paint gives anything a new, fresh look.

For the wreath, maybe put a big bow at the top for color.  Or wrap it loosely in ribbon.  December’s Product of the Month can come in handy again: Hang some on the wreath.

This all-white snowman luminary available at our retail store would look gorgeous in a white Christmas display!

Our December Product of the Month. These are great for adding some color.

Oh, and by the way, while you’re shopping, pick up some of those tiny Christmas lights in red, maybe three or four other colors, too.  Hang onto them.  They’ll be  good for some upcoming posts.

Quick & Easy Gourd Crafting

from the Ladies Home Journal

There are so many things you can do to decorate and craft with gourds, and we’ll talk you through many of them on our blog.  But for now, a quick, easy crafting idea: Simply paint them solid colors!  Mini Gourds work particularly well and make a beautiful display when spray painted bright colors or metallic (like the ones pictured to the left). A recent issue of The Ladies’ Home Journal did a piece on the lovely simplicity of a painted gourd display.

We offer raw, cleaned gourds on our website in all shapes and sizes for you to paint yourself! (Our Petite Splendors from our Gourdicopia Collection also make a beautiful grouping if you’re not the do-it-yourself type. )

For your Christmas decorating and  table settings, try painting the gourds shades of silver & gold. Group them together in a glass bowl surrounded by evergreen and pinecones for an earthy, yet elegant holiday look.

Your First Craft Project?

September Product of the Month - Autumn Luminary

Hello!  We hope you all had a wonderful weekend. By the way,  did you try that Watermelon Cake recipe we gave you for Labor Day?  Let us know what you thought of it.

The September Product of the Month is one of our luminaries.  You’ve probably seen others on our site.  They have leaf cut-outs and there’s a small light at the bottom.  You can see how pretty that looks.  The Product of the Month is a little different, it has acorn cut-outs, too, but it’s the same idea.

For you crafty types, a gourd luminary is something that you may want to try for yourself! A lot of ours are made from martin gourds.  You know, the ones that look like giant pears.  (They are also perfect for martin – and other small roosting birds – nests. More about that in a later post.)

Raw Martin Gourd

Raw Penguin Gourd

We also use penguin gourds for luminaries.  The martin might be easier for your first try, though, just because of its size.

Luminaries do not require a lot of artful decorating.  No complex painting, no adding on things like straw for hair, or putting parts of two gourds together, like our thistle feeders.  To put a finish on the gourd, you can use paint, or the kind of stains you get at a hardware store, or cream shoe polish, even wax, if you want to let the surface of the gourd shine through.  We’ll go into all that in more detail in an upcoming post.

The only other thing you need is a craft knife, and those are easy to find and inexpensive.  The ones with the retractable blade are not going to be as stable – and therefore, not as safe – as the fixed blade kind, like the ones to the left.

Fixed-Blade Craft Knives

And those are not that much more.  You can get really good ones for about $15.  There are  ergonomically designed knives, too.

So, this might make a good first project for you.  We’ll show you the details as we go along, but if you want to start right now, there are video tutorials online that can help you.  Or contact us and we’ll give you a hand. Also, we offer gourd crafting classes throughout the year! You design the shape, then our craftsmen will do the hard part and cut it out for you. The next classes will be our create your own Jack O’Lantern events!

Ancient Hawaiian Decorating Technique

Our Own Doris Risser

As you can see, there are many ways to make gourds into beautiful centerpieces, statuettes, birdhouses, butterfly houses, bowls, etc., etc., etc.  We will help you with that, too.  Doris Risser is one of our artists offering  classes at our farm in Carlisle, PA.  We’re also happy help you out if you’re trying it on your own.  Take a look at our site for more ideas or stay tuned to our blog!

from hawaiigourdsociety.com

There is another way that was used in ancient Hawaii that was lost to us for most of our history.  Dr. Bruce Ka’imiloa Chrisman recovered the art basically by trial and error, using gourds – ipu (ee-poo) in Hawaiian – in museums as his guide.  What he discovered was that they used a technique similar to wax techniques used on pottery today – you paint wax where you don’t want the glaze or dye to stick to.  The skin of the gourd took the place of wax.

When the gourd is thoroughly dried, the remaining skin is scraped off to

from hawaiigourdsociety.com

reveal the darker pattern left by the dye. There is a little finishing work that can be done then – sanding, polishing, sealing – and you end up with a finished product that looks as organic as the gourd itself.  It’s just one more way to create beautiful art from gourds, and we’re lucky Dr. Chrisman was determined to learn the ancients’ secrets.