Getting crafty with gourds

By Jean Henry/The Garden Club of Frankfort Published:

Nina Parker, a member of the Kentucky Gourd Society, the American Gourd Society and president of the Franklin County Homemakers Garden Club, recently presented a program on crafting with gourds to members of The Garden Club of Frankfort, hoping that some of them may become interested.

She began work in the hobby four years ago when Mary Lou Peyton, a member of her garden club, gave a class on gourds at one of the meetings and she fell in love with the idea. She went straight home and got on the Internet and started “Googling” gourd art.

As with any hobby there are many levels of expertise. An advanced hobby such as Nina’s involves carving, clay applications, weaving, combining multiple gourds and much more. Beginners might want to start with creating a wren house or perhaps a decorative bowl.

If you want to grow your own gourds, realize they need a long growing season so it is best to plant seeds as soon as possible or start them inside and transplant. Gourds come in many different shapes and sizes and are fun to grow for that reason if no other.

Nina showed a picture of gourd vines that she had planted under a crabapple tree that are now vining up in it and dangling their gourds like so many strange ornaments. If you do not want to grow your own or want to have a gourd of an unusual shape that you cannot find seeds for, browse online. There are many, many websites for gourd crafting enthusiasts.

When harvesting gourds do not pick them until the stem leading to the gourd is completely dried. You can leave them on the vine all winter if you want. Once they are cured, the freeze will not hurt them. However, if they haven’t cured completely before a freeze they will rot.

Cleaning gourds is not the easiest job. Soak them in warm water and scrub and scrub and scrub until all of the outer skin is off and it is very smooth. If you want to avoid this job you can order gourds online that are already cured and cleaned.

There are many tools available specific to gourd crafting. Tools for cleaning, drilling, sawing, burning, carving, painting. A good site to visit to see what is available is www.welburngourdfarm.com/

Another great opportunity to learn more about this hobby is to visit the Kentucky Gourd Society’s annual show Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19. in Taylorsville. There will be vendors and exhibits of decorated gourds that have been judged in competition.

The hours May 18 are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., May 19, 10-3. The address is Spencer County Elementary, 1265 Mt. Washington Rd., Taylorsville, KY. Visit the Kentucky Gourd Society website for workshops coming in March and again in May.

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