About 20 years ago a good friend of mine gave me some gourds that she had grown in her garden and told me that people made all kinds of things with them. I did a bit of research and was hooked. I started growing, drying, and designing my own gourds into fanciful and useful boxes, baskets, bowls, and birdhouses. I love everything about this plant. It is fussy to grow, does not like the cold so needs to go into the garden at just the right temperature, takes nearly our whole Northeast summer to grow and sometimes nearly a year to dry. Once they are dry, I leave a few out on my work space and wait until I have figured out just the right thing to make them into. They actually reveal their characters to me which makes it somewhat easier. In my travels I have collected gourds from many places around the world and have discovered that they have been such an integral part of the history of just about every culture. I am inspired by other folk artists from other cultures who now mostly use gourds to express themselves artistically and make a living. Having grown my gourds from seed, cultivated and dried them and then designed them into something fun and useful, I really do feel quite an attachment to them.
I know that when you purchase one, you have made some sort of connection or know it is just the right thing for someone special to you. Know that your gourd has a long, honorable history in its past that you are now part of. Enjoy its future.
As a self-taught artist I have never felt confined by any prescribed way of doing things artistically. Every day items and items in nature become the focus of my imagination and a whimsical way to express myself. The acorn Tooth Fairy Boxes came about when I found a cache of very large acorns one fall and decided to try and hollow them out. Once I accomplished that I wondered what to do with them. As a teacher of young children who are always losing their teeth, I soon came up with the idea of Tooth Fairy Boxes. I love that they are so perfect for this and, for the most part, retain their natural characteristics. My own children were beyond that stage when I came up with the idea so I put small earrings in them and hung them from the holiday tree for them to find.
The Picket Fish were a kind of “ah-ha” moment that happened when I was moving an old fence and decided to remove the pickets to make them more manageable. A picket lying on its side had a nail hole towards the top and I thought it looked like a fish with an eye – a bit of cutting on an old band saw and some colorful paint later, Picket Fish were created. I really enjoy the splashes of bright colors and designing patterns to decorate them with. Some of them have very distinct and interesting patterns in the wood that, if they hadn’t been rescued from the junk pile, would never have been recognized.
There are gifts of art wherever you look. Please enjoy these and know that there are many more to discover.