Let Me Be Me

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I once liked simple line, simple colors with nice neckline details

I once liked simple line, simple colors with nice neckline details

Every family seems to target each other about some quirk or another. Very few family members get a free pass. I won’t go into what I tease my siblings about, but I am targeted for a couple of the things. First, is my obsessions with making and doing new things and the second, is my clothing. It’s not because I dress particularly in any weird way, but because every few years I totally change my style of dress. In my defense, I don’t constantly rearrange or redecorate my house or get a new car every couple of years.

It use to be socks always had to match the outfit.

It use to be socks always had to match the outfit.

I’m in for it now, because I feel a new change coming on. I look in my closet and see very few things I want to wear. I just don’t like what I see. Everything seems plain and boring. Awhile back I loved simple lines, a single color, and nice neckline detail. Yuck!

If I studied and analyzed, I could probably tell you how each clothing phase reflected what was happening in my life, going from a hippie in the 70’s to a young mother, to a professional, to a mother of teenagers, to an empty-nester, to a grandma and so on. I’m just not totally convinced that my phase in life is really related to my phase in clothing. Looking back, I remember a time when by blouse had to exactly match my socks, or the time I wanted pleated shirts and blazers. There were the times when everything had to be super girly and ruffled or terribly blingy. I even went through an ethnic wear phase. Now how could that possible reflect a stage of life?

Today I am looking for brighter colors and bolder patterns

Today I am looking for brighter colors and bolder patterns

What am I attracted to these days? I want bright colors, bold prints, tie-dye, loose and flowing. It sounds a bit like the things I wore back in the 70’s minus the big ugly boots. Maybe, I’m ready to recycle back into my past because I have even pulled out some of ethnic wear that is bright and bold. I will tell you pleated skirts and blazers are still a no go for me. For the moment, I’ve come to a place in my life where people are just going to have to accept me even with all my weirdness, even my family.

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Obsessions/How to Make a Thunder Drum

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This season’s color obsession is purple and turquoise. I pick it to sew with. I wear it. I’d decorate with it if I was into redecorating my house. Last season it was other colors. Next season it will be still other colors.

This season's favorite colors

This season’s favorite colors

I do the same obsessing with gourds. I’ve gone through obsessions with Art Nouveau designs, Native American designs, Celtic designs, horses and wolves. My latest obsession is unlike the others. It isn’t any kind of design. The obsession centers around the thunder drum. A thunder drum is a gourd with the bottom cut off so a drum head and spring can be attached. When the spring is wiggled, it vibrates the drum head, which in turn creates sound waves inside the gourd. The gourd amplifies the waves and releases it through other holes in the gourd and sounds like thunder. Think cello or bass. It is so amazing.
Each drum reverberates differently. There are many variables that make up the drum’s tone. such as: the size of the gourd, the size of the drum head or opening, the shape of the gourd, the placement, shape, and size of the holes in the drum, and the smoothness of the inside of the gourd. I was so intrigued with the differences in the sounds, I asked Becca Chavarria, a friend, a music student, and cellist at a local university to analyze them. Even she couldn’t predict why each sounded the way is does. The best theory so far has to do with the size of the drum head, but there is more to it than that.

Becca checking out the different tones of the Thunder Drems

Becca checking out the different tones of the Thunder Drems

So how do you make one of these fascinating gourd creations? You can order detailed and professional instruction along with the drum heads and springs from Ron Swank at http://www.risingsunflowerflutes.com/. Or you can do what I did, order the supplies, study a drum that was already made, and then go figure it out as you go.
Here are a few pointers that I have learned by inspecting completed thunder drums and asking questions.
– Pick a sturdy, thick walled gourd. It will be banged around a bit when it is finished.
-The bottom of the drum has to be cut and sanded absolutely smooth and flat. My saw and Dremel didn’t work so I got a sticky backed sanding pad that I attached to a solid surface. I rub the cut part of the gourd over it in a circular motion to get it absolutely smooth and flat.

It is essential to have an absolutely flat and smooth bottom.  I use sticky backed sanding pads.

It is essential to have an absolutely flat and smooth bottom. I use sticky backed sanding pads.

-The inside of the gourd needs to be fairly smooth so the sound doesn’t become muffled.
-There has to be a hole or holes somewhere on the gourd other than the bottom to let the sound out. Holes that are too large decreases the depth of the sound. Plan your hole or holes when you do your design. I use a tiny keyhole saw that uses an Exacto blade handle or a mini jig saw to cut the hole. You can even use a cutter bit or drill bit with your Dremel to gouge out the shape. An emery board, the kind you use for your finger nails, words great to smooth the edges.

I love the red handled saw.  The machine there is actually a jig saw.

I love the red handled saw. The machine there is actually a jig saw.

I design the sounding holes right into my designs

I design the sounding holes right into my designs

-A hanger cord needs to be attached before the drumhead is put on. The cord need to be pretty hardy, like leather or parachute cord since it will be hard to replace after the drumhead is on.
-Dark paint on the inside looks nice and will hide blemishes if you look into the holes. I spray paint it before I cut the extra holes to help prevent overspray onto the outside of the gourd.

I spray paint the inside black.  Note the different thickness of the bottoms after they are sanded flat.

I spray paint the inside black. Note the different thickness of the bottoms after they are sanded flat.

-I trace and cut the drumhead before I attach it. Other’s might find it easier to cut it afterwards. The drum head is best attached with an industrial strength super glue. I use CA Thick that can be found in woodworking shops.

The drumheads each have a unique shape and size.  I draw a line on each to align my tracing.

The drumheads each have a unique shape and size. I draw a line on each to align my tracing.

-Watch the video by Ron Swank on how to heat shrink the drumhead and attach the spring. The link to the video can be found on his website shown above. Mine doesn’t always work like his, so sometimes I just keep at it until I have the look and feel I want. I do have to say I have ruined a couple trying to get it right. Once you have this last step done, you can finally hear what the drum will sound like.
-You will notice I gave no advice on how to design the gourd, the methods of putting on your design, or finishing the gourd. It is those things that make the thunder drum uniquely yours.
One of the nice things about this new to continue using the skills I developed with my old obsessions. I also get to continue adding new ones, like my newly emerging skill of chip carving. I wonder if that will become my next obsession?

Could this become my next new obsession?

Could this become my next new obsession?

Embarressed or Pleased

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Saturday, I did a short class/demo at the Nampa Farmer’s Market. I was nervous and forgot a bunch of things I wanted to say. To top that off, I brought way more things to display than was reasonable. Fortunately, I get another chance in November. I learned a lot today about what to do and say and what not to. It actually went pretty well and was well received.

Giving the demo with do many gourds

Giving the demo with do many gourds

I was also extremely privileged to have members of the Idaho Gourd Society there to back me up. Each person who came, set up a table, demonstrated a skill, and brought some of their work to display.

Beautiful masks

Beautiful masks

I was flummoxed. I was floored. All of my insecurities as an artist came to the surface. Their work is exquisite. My skill level and products don’t even come close to matching up. I went through a whole range of emotions. Mostly, it was embarrassment and shame. Here I was putting my gourd work out for the world and letting people buy them. And yet, in my mind’s eye at that moment, I produced an inferior product and had the nerve to flaunt it.

chip carving at its finest.

chip carving at its finest.

The Day before, I sanded, wood burned, finished, and put together 2 thunder drums to have at the market to replace the 2 I sold last week and had the nerve to feel pleased. One member of the gourd society was there finishing up a thunder drum that she covered with pointillism. It was so beautiful. Mine were okay but just couldn’t compare.

Pointillism - Each dot is put on one at a time.

Pointillism – Each dot is put on one at a time.

Looking back, I think that probably many people go through this type of thought process, a feeling of insecurity when they compare their work to another’s. Am I rationalizing?

I had to sit down and have a stern talk with myself. I had to remind myself to accept me for who I am and not want to be anyone else. My work is lovely and something that many people would and do want to own. Plus, my nature is to make many.

I also had to remind myself about something else. I have this deep gut reaction whenever I see or hear about something priced so high that the ordinary person can’t afford it. Even though I admire expensive art, it isn’t in me to produce it. I have a strong need to make lots of things and an even stronger need to make lovely things that people can actually afford.

I love wood burning.

I love wood burning.

So, no, I don’t produce exquisite one of a kind gourd art worth hundreds of dollars. I produce lovely gourd art that is affordable for many.

I thankfully find, at least this moment, that I can admire the fabulous art other artists and also be okay that mine doesn’t have to match their level of fabulous. I will continue to make many of my own style pieces and get them into the hands of the general public. I also accept that there is much I can learn from their expertise.

Math, Making, and Celtic Braid

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I was asked the other day if six people would fit onto one of my picnic blankets. The blanket is 63 inches by 63 inches. Math was the key to this question. I quickly figured that the blanket was 3,969 square inches. I divided that by 6 people and found that was 666.5 square inches per person. That would give a place approximately 30 inches by 22 inches per person sitting crossed legged I figured people sitting that way would take up an average of 30 inches across with the knees sticking out, divided the 30 into 666.5 square inches. That came to about 22 inches. That’s pretty crowded. But with this I could tell her how much room there was per person and that it would be crowded unless most of them were small children.

It would be a tight squeeze to fit 6 people on this blanket but you could.

It would be a tight squeeze to fit 6 people on this blanket but you could.

When I first started making the patchwork picnic blankets, I used 9 rows of 9 6” squares which measured by 54 inches. That turned out to be too small for a family to fit comfortably. By increasing each of the 81 squares by 1/2 inch, I got the larger and more comfortable blanket a minimal increase in fabric and work made a more usable picnic blanket. Yeah for Math!
I find I use math constantly in making. Do you remember words like, symmetry, circumference, measurement, area, volume, surface area, angles squared, linear, point, hypotenuse of a right angle, decimal, fraction, diameter along with adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing? They are all common place for me when I am making.
I design all my own patterns and measurement becomes all important in making sure everything fits together perfectly. The puppet theater marquees, the masks, and the puppets need to be absolutely symmetrical to look just right. I carefully calculate the surface of all the fabrics to make sure I have enough and I am not being wasteful.

Puppets patterns use symmetry to design

Puppets patterns use symmetry to design


Once the patterns are made and the methods for cutting are worked out, the sewing of beautiful or cute things uses my skill with less reliance on math. That just isn’t so with gourds. Each gourd is different, so it has to be dealt with individually. I often need to know the circumference to be able to divide it into equal sized segments. I need to know the surface area so I know what sized image will fit I the space, or how many images to use, or where they would look the best.
One of my favorite designs is a Celtic braid. It takes a lot of math to get it on the gourd.
• Step 1 – I start by measuring the height of the usable space on the gourd and then determine what width of braid would look the most balanced.

At 5 inches high, I figured I have 3 1/2 inches of usable space to draw on.

At 5 inches high, I figured I have 3 1/2 inches of usable space to draw on.

• Step 2 – Using my handy dandy gourd scribe (see picture) I draw 7 lines of circumference on the gourd. The first is my mid line. The second and third lines are the edge lines and are put equal distance above and below the mid line to give the height of the braid. The last 4 lines are put equal distance above and below the edge lines to give the width of both the border and the braid. The pictures show the progression. I think I am better at visualizing something than using words to describe it.

This piece of equipment is called a scribe and it is a great tool for drawing a level circumference on a gourd.  Before I had it, I piled up books to the right height to do the same thing.

This piece of equipment is called a scribe and it is a great tool for drawing a level circumference on a gourd. Before I had it, I piled up books to the right height to do the same thing.

• Step 3 – After measuring the circumference of the gourd at the mid line, I divide it into equal segments and mark them.
• Step 4 – Now I am ready to start drawing the braid. I draw an arc from one of the points, skipping a point to the next one. The arc will slightly touch the closest the line above or below depending on the direction of the arc. I will do that with all the points both above and below. (see picture)

I draw an arc connecting every other point, both in positive and negative directions.  This is the result.  Do you like my fancy math talk?

I draw an arc connecting every other point, both in positive and negative directions. This is the result. Do you like my fancy math talk?

• Step 5 – Now I go around the gourd drawing a diamond shape between the points.
• Step 6 – In between the diamond I draw triangles. As I draw I am aware of the distances between the lines. These markings will help make sure the braid is even. (Again see the picture)

Steps 5 and 6 in drawing the Celtic braid is filling in the diamond and triangle shapes.  You can begin to see the center of the braid emerging.

Steps 5 and 6 in drawing the Celtic braid is filling in the diamond and triangle shapes. You can begin to see the center of the braid emerging.

• Step 7 – Using a darker pencil stroke, I use the guide lines I made to sketch in the braid. I generally start with the top, move to the middle, and then complete the bottom.

Now this gourd is ready for me to wood burn in this Celtic Braid design.

Now this gourd is ready for me to wood burn in this Celtic Braid design.

• Before I make anything permanent, I double check to make sure that the braid is even both in distance between knots and width of the braid itself. I have been known to wash all of it off at this point and start all over however that has happened less as I have gained experience.
• Step 8 – I wood-burn all of my lines in at this point, but it could be done with a marker just as easily. Once the lines are permanent, I wash off all of the pencil line.

This is one of many ways the Celtic braid can be finished.

This is one of many ways the Celtic braid can be finished.

• Step 9 – The final steps include putting in the background and shading.

I have marked both the midline and edge line.  I hope the paper drawing helps clarify the steps.

I have marked both the midline and edge line. I hope the paper drawing helps clarify the steps.

A Basic Handout for Getting Started With Gourds

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Barbara Whitbeck

Barbara’s Handcrafts:  Gourds and More

As I vend my decorated gourds, I am often asked advice on the growing, harvesting, drying, cleaning and decorating gourds.  I am by no means an expert on all aspects of gourds.  The answers I give are based on my own experience from trial and error and the methods I use.  The answers are not comprehensive.  There are many books published that deal much more comprehensively with gourds.  This paper will give some advice as you get started with gourds.  It will give you no projects or designs to follow.  I will leave that up to you.  As you get serious about working with gourds, invest in a few good books and tools that will enhance your experience.  I also suggest you join the Idaho Gourd Society, where there are classes to take and experts willing to help.

This is a perfect setting to vend my gourds.

This is a perfect setting to vend my gourds.

History of the Gourd

I am often asked what  gourds are and what  they are used for.  Gourds are a plant.  They are  members of the pumpkin, squash, cucumber, melon family.  Although they can be and are eaten when they are very young, they are mainly allowed to mature (when they are inedible) and use to enhance life.  Gourds are one of the first domestic crops planted by man.  They can be found globally.  Throughout history they have been used as a part of the daily life of early man.  They have been used as water containers in arid areas, food storage containers, dinnerware, jewelry, musical and percussion instruments.  The gourd was made into anything that was of possible use.  Cut a dipper gourd and you have a drinking vessel to use with the rain barrel.  Hang birdhouse gourds near the gardens to attract the birds to help keep the garden free of insects.  Use the gourd to make sounds to dance to or to hold sacred ceremonies by filling one with dried beans or pebbles to make a rattle, cover with a net of beads to make a shaker, stretch a goat skin over the open end to make a drum, and even attach metal to make a finger piano.  The list of things that can be made with the gourd is long and could never be complete since all of the ideas are not used up yet.

Growing Gourds

I need to start this section with a disclaimer.  I AM NOT A GARDNER.  Oh, I have tried and tried and haven’t done well.  I haven’t given up trying.  This is the information I have gleaned from others.  When you buy the gourd seed, unless you live in a very warm climate (not Idaho) it is best to start them in the house.

  • Clip off the points of the seed to help the process and then soak them overnight.
  •  Plant them an inch or so under the soil and keep them nice and warm.
  • Plant the seedlings outside once any chance of frost is over and made sure they get plenty of water that drains well.
  • Gourd plants need plenty of sunshine and, since they are related to the pumpkin, squash, and melon family, know that they will take up a lot of room.  If the room is limited, they also like climbing up trellises, fences, or trees.
  • Some people help with the pollination process.  Others make sure that any gourd that needs a flat bottom is set upright as it grows.  Still others just let them do their own thing and leave them alone.  You can choose what you want to do.

Harvesting Gourds

This I know about harvesting gourds.  DON’T!

  • eave the gourds on the vine for as long as possible.  It is best to allow the gourd plants to fully die back before you take them from the garden.
  • If you live in a dry area, you don’t even have to do that.  Just leave them in the garden over the winter and let them dry naturally.
  • The longer the plant is supplying nutrient the stronger the gourd grows, the thicker the wall, and the more mature.
  • If a gourd is picked before it is mature, you will increase the chance of it rotting, getting soft and having to be thrown away.

Drying Gourds

Drying gourds is as simple as ignoring them for 6 months or so.

  • They can be left outside in the garden if the ground is going to be dry.
  •  If not, they still can be left outdoors.  Place them so that there is a flow of air around them such as on a pallet or mesh table.  If that isn’t possible, you may have to turn them a couple of times over the winter.
  • They can also be taken into an out building, garage or basement.  Just make sure they are spread out a bit.  If you choose a basement, be aware they will get moldy and if your heating system draws fresh air from the basement, those mold spores will come into the house.
  •  I choose to dry my gourds outside because they are easier to clean after they are dried.
  • If your gourd gets moldy, DO NOT THROW IT AWAY.  The beautiful patterns on the shell of a gourd are created with the mold.  The only time you will need to throw a gourd away is if it has become soft and mushy like an old jack-o-lantern.
  • You will get more mold from protected indoor areas thus more patterns.  Some like to spray bleach on the gourds over the drying season to keep the mold down.  Too much damp mold on a drying gourd can cause the mold through to the inside of the gourd and soften the gourd in spots.
The gourds on the left were dried in a basement, the ones on the right were dried out of doors.

The gourds on the left were dried in a basement, the ones on the right were dried out of doors.

Cleaning the outside of the gourd

I have found that if I soak the gourd for awhile it makes the clean-up and scrubbing so much easier.

  • I place the gourds in water, weigh them down with a wet towel and let them soak.
  • If the gourd feels like it has a thinner shell, I keep the soaking to a minimum, otherwise they can soak for up to an hour or so.
  • Then I use a steel scrubber.  The one I use is similar to the copper scrubber only steel.  The copper scrubbers can be used, but I find the steel ones more effective.
  • I don’t scrub as hard as I can.  I find that it works better to just go over the same spot numerous time.
  • During this time I squeeze the gourd trying to break it, that way I get rid on any that are weak and more likely to break later on.  There are some thinner shelled gourds that I use for night lights that I hold gingerly as I scrub because I am looking for the thinner shell.
  • The gourds that have a whitish covering on them are the most difficult to clean.
  •  With any of them, make sure you rinse them well and double and triple check them for bits of covering left behind.  It is easy to miss bits of the covering.
  • I let them dry a day or two before working with them.
  • If the gourd is moldy, you can use a small amount of bleach in the water.  I don’t.
The mold rings leave a beautiful pattern, the whitish skin is the hardest type to clean.

The mold rings leave a beautiful pattern, the whitish skin is the hardest type to clean.

Cutting the gourd

If you have chosen to cut the gourd to make a vase or bowl this may be problematic for the beginner.  I say this because without the right tools cutting a gourd can be challenging.

  • Typical small hand saws cut a straight line and give very little flexibility in the cut.  It can be done.
  • A full sized jig saw can be used on a large gourd, but is dangerous unless you can secure the gourd.
  • When I was beginning, I used the smallest keyhole saw I could find for straight cuts and used a cutting bit on a Dremel to make round or curved cut.  I tried using an Exacto knife but had limited success with it, maybe my blades weren’t sharp.
  •  Later I purchased a couple of mini-jig saws that make a big difference in my ability to make nice smooth cut.
  • My favorite cutter is a tiny keyhole blade that fit into the handle of an Exacto knife.  The only place I have found these blades is online at Welburn Gourds.
  • To start the cut many will drill a small hole into the gourd to place the saw blade to start.  I use my tiny keyhole blade and work it back and forth until I have gone through the gourd shell.
  • If you are looking to have a fitted lid on your gourd, you will need a mini-jig or very small saw.  You will need something that will take as little as possible away as it cuts, otherwise the lid will not fit because of the curved surface.
  • To get a level cut on a gourd, I initially piled books to the height I wanted, braced a pencil on it, then turned the gourd as I drew the line with the braced pencil.
  • Wearing a face mask filter when opening a gourd or sawing on a gourd, first for the mold that may be inside and secondly for the gourd dust caused by the sawing.
There are lots of saw out there.  My favorite hand saw for gourds is that little red one

There are lots of saw out there. My favorite hand saw for gourds is that little red one

Cleaning the Inside of the Gourd

A face mask filter is absolutely necessary when cleaning out the inside of a gourd.  Once the gourd has been cut, you now have the job of cleaning out the inside.

  • I am always a happy camper when the fibers on the inside have pulled away from the inside wall of the gourd and all I have to do is pull that ball of fiber out and toss it.  This rarely happens.
  •  I use a heavy serving spoon to scrape the inside of the gourd to remove the fiber.
  • There are times when there is a white shiny coating on the inside of the gourd even after the seeds have been removed and the spoon doesn’t easily remove it.  That is when I use any tool that works such as a looped clay scraper, a coconut scraper, copper scrubber, a pebbled ball attachment to my Dremel or anything I can find to work.
  • Occasionally, the white coating on the inside is beautiful and unflawed and can be left as is.
  •  Also,  there are times when the mold has entered inside a gourd and has left dark spots and/or a rank smell.
  • With the dark spot, your only options are to leave them or cover them over with stain or paint.
  •   When a gourd smells bad, you can sometimes remove the smell by soaking the inside with a baking soda and water mixture.  Sometimes you just have to throw the smelly gourd away.
  •  When cleaning very narrow necked gourds, I scrape out as much as I can with an opened coat hanger or skewer, and then often soak the gourd to loosen what is left.
  • The truth is, I do whatever I need to get the inside cleaned out.
I use these to get that pulp out from the inside, that and a lot of elbow grease.

I use these to get that pulp out from the inside, that and a lot of elbow grease.

Sanding the gourd

As a cautionary note, please always use a face mask filter when sanding.

    • When sanding the inside of the gourd, I usually start with a copper scrubber to remove the last of the loose fiber.
    •  I follow that with sanding sponges of various grits depending on how smooth I want the inside.
    • For birdhouses, I do very little cleaning and leave fiber for the birds to use.
    • For the narrow necked gourds, I use my Dremel to sand what is visible and leave the rest.
    • For a bowl, I sand as smooth as possible.
    • For a nice level top to a bowl or vase, I have a circle of sand paper with a sticky back meant for a power sander, that I have attached to a heavy base. I use that to sand a beautiful level edge.
Sanding is a dusty job.  Use what works for you.  These I use regularly.

Sanding is a dusty job. Use what works for you. These I use regularly.

Decorating the Gourd

There is so many methods and styles that I couldn’t possibly begin to cover them here in any detail.

  • You are only limited by your own imagination and creativity.
  • You can paint with water colors, acrylics, oil paints, even house paint.
  • Many people use a wood burning tool to etch into the gourd.
  • If a gourd is thick enough, the gourd can be carved with hand carving tools or power carving tools.
  • The gourd can be drawn on with marker, colored pencils, India Ink, or any other media you choose.
  • The edges can be finished by weaving with pine needles, yarn, raffia, leather, rope, or any other thing you can think of.
  • The gourd can be covered with paper, fabric, or things found in nature.
  • Gourds can be put together, taken apart, inlayed, have added adornment, etc.  As you can see there is so many ways to adorn a gourd.
Add Color to your gourd with whatever works for you.

Add Color to your gourd with whatever works for you.

The is no end to all of the wonderful things you call embellish your gourd with.

The is no end to all of the wonderful things you call embellish your gourd with.

Finishing touches and Finishing the gourd.

So now you have grown, dried, cleaned, cut, cleaned again, and then decorated your gourd.  The last step is finishing it.

    • Sometimes the natural look of the gourd is desirable.
    • Because a gourd is porous, a finish to fill in those pores is necessary especially in damp areas or gourds that will be outside.
    • Any of the waxes work well.  There are shoe, furniture and floor polishes that can be buffed to a nice sheen.
    • You can use varnishes or polyurethane that fill the pours and come in a variety of sheens.
    • Many of the oils can be used; just make sure that they will not go rancid, like a vegetable oil.
    •  Any product that works on wood will work on a gourd.
    • Many who work with gourds find that they have a favorite one they use.
You can finish the inside and outside of the gourd with those things that finish wood or leather.

You can finish the inside and outside of the gourd with those things that finish wood or leather.

When putting on the finishes touches think of where the gourd will be displayed and what it will be used for.

  • When hanging a gourd, you can use jute, leather thongs, parachute cord, fishing line among others.  Will you use one hole to hang the gourd or two.
  • Will the gourd need a stand so that it sits securely, and what kind of stand will look best?
  • You can add feathers, fur, beads, leather studs, brads and many other items to enhance the look of your gourd.
You can finish the gourd off by weaving things onto the rim.

You can finish the gourd off by weaving things onto the rim.

 

 

 

Passionate about Scheduling my time

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               Okay, so my goal is to write about those things that will fascinate people so much that they will wait with baited breath for my next blog.  I’ve come up with all sorts of things that I am fascinated with and want to write about but have no clue if others will feel the same.  So there lies my dilemma.  Do I write about what I find fascinating or what I think others would like?  I guess it’s got to be me, since I can’t see into other people’s brains.

               Today, I my passion is my schedule.  I feel so lucky to have my days to myself to do anything that pleases me.  Retirement is great.  One of my strengths is to be able to separate out what I want to concentrate on.  This morning I sewed the fronts of my little bear finger puppets.  Which, by the way , is the last of the puppets for this year.  This afternoon I will work on the thunder drum gourds, which is new to my gourd line this year.  And finally, this evening I will do handwork as I watch a video.  This schedule works for me.  I make a chart separating each day into three blocks or parts.  I do this anywhere from a week to a month in advance.  That way I don’t have to think what I am to do later on.

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The Winter schedule

               During the morning block, I sew.  I sew puppets, puppet theaters, children’s masks, baby carriers, patchwork picnic blankets or play mats.  I try to work a bit on each type of item every week, that keeps new items flowing all of the time.  I do have to admit, I am behind on baby carriers.  I am a bit of a morning zombie and with sewing, I can just follow procedures and don’t have to get creative.  I find I have good energy in the morning as long as I don’t have to think too hard which baby carriers occasionally make me do.

              

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Cut projects ready to sew. Top to bottom: puppets, masks, theaters. Lower down are the carriers and playmats

              The afternoon block is dedicated to working with gourds.  Over the winter I spread out the making of the different gourd items.  Mondays are designated to the new thunder drums, Tuesdays to luminaries, etc.  This is my hardest block.  I get sleepy in the afternoon and it is my least productive time.  I love working with gourds so that’s the most likely activity I will work on through the lethargic part of the day.  I take a big break between the morning and afternoon blocks to take care of any paperwork, mailing, packaging, shopping or personal business.

              

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Key chains drawn and ready to burn. Those circles are sandpaper.

               The evenings, when my body wakes up, is often my most productive and creative time of the day.  So much so that I often have difficulties stopping, so I try to make myself quit at 11:30.  Usually, I put on a movie and do handwork.  That will include cutting, embroidering faces, drawing designs, painting, finishing gourds, final touches, packaging, making dream catchers, shekeres and crocheted items.   I try to make what I do in the evening match up with the day’s work.

               For my sanity, at the end of each block I straighten up the mess I made and put things where they go.  Then, I set up for the next day.  That works well for me, so I don’t accumulate too much clutter, can find what I need, and can get started right away on the new project.

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Yesterdays, work but away and the makings of a picnic blanket out and ready to use

               Now it might seem like all I do is work.  I call it keeping busy, but I take breaks whenever I feel like it and remind myself to eat.  The weekends, I consider free time and anything I do on the weekends is a bonus.  Housework, which is not a priority to me, I fit in bits and pieces, especially if I am having company.

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This is my evening nest set up to finish painting a new display and work on a shakere.

               The teacher part of me wants to add that building a schedule and even posting it up, frees thinking processes and concentration to immediate needs and helps avoid getting overwhelmed by the big picture.  My schedule works for me and my body rhythms.  Anyone making a schedule for themselves needs to look at what they can realistically do, what they need to get done, how their body responds, and what fits into their life. 

               I really am pleased and excited, okay, fascinated, with my daily schedule.  With it I can accomplish so much more without letting myself get overwhelmed with making dozens of everything, because you know I have to make dozens of everything I try.

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You can never have enough fabric.

You can never have enough fabric.

I though I would start this blog by explaining a little about myself and what I want to accomplish. I contemplated making it cute and clever and then decided, I am neither cute nor clever, so I am just going to give you a peek at who I am.
It started with a farm animal set for a friend's child.

It started with a farm animal set for a friend’s child.
I had the chance to work with many wonderful groups of tumblers. I have had the opportunity to work with wonderful groups of tumblers.


For those that know me, they know that I rarely do things in a small way. I almost always have a passion or two going. Some might even use the word obsession. The big passions that are from my past, but still in my heart, include: teaching middle school, coaching performance gymnastics, hosting International Festivals, raising my children, coordinating Baha’i Youth Workshop performing dance group and youth conferences. Today, my passions include spending time with my grandchildren, working with gourds and sewing, running my my Etsy shop, and vending locally at markets and festivals.
I have always done crafts.

I have always done crafts


Through all this making or creating things has played a huge role in my life and continues to be a passion. One of my earliest memories is that of making lots and lots of mud turtles. From a mud turtle start, I continued with what I call being a serial crafter. I started sewing in grade school and still sew. I continued on with weaving, batik, rug making, doll house building, played with plastic mesh, done fabric painting, linocut sculpting and printing and may pick these up again in the future. Today I am busy with macramé, working with gourds, quilting, and all manner of sewing.
Gourds that are waiting to be made into something fabulous.

Gourds that are waiting to be made into something fabulous

And then there is drawing. I can’t remember not drawing. I draw for drawing sake. I draw to illustrate. I draw to put together designs for other things.
Great International Festivals

I couldn’t just teach history, I had to celebrate it.

These short words don’t tell a lot about me, but give a peek at who I am.
The tough question for me is what do I want to accomplish writing this blog. I know I want to learn to communicate better and stop hoarding my thoughts. I hope to motivate other makers to believe in themselves. If I can share some knowledge and make new friends, that would be fabulous. It would be wonderful to learn new things and gain new passions.