Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Trip to the Gourd Farm brings Creative Inspiration on a Winter Day

I am more than ready for this long dismal winter to be over. This one has been a particularly difficult one on my psyche, challenging me daily to be vibrant amidst a landscape that is like a blanket of brown and grey bleakness. Spring is around the corner and every once in a while Mother Nature will tease us with her sunny warmth. I'm anticipating the new season more than ever, and  looking forward to blossoming life and the dance of colors. A trip to the Gourd Farm yesterday was a definite must, bringing us one step closer to Spring and getting ready for some art shows.
Why make the trip?
I always opt to physically go to the farm to get my gourds instead of ordering them online. Keeping that human connection with the grower and being able to see the process of how the gourds get  from the garden to your studio makes your creation even more meaningful. By supporting local, I can see how the money stays within and supports that family and our community.

When we arrive, we are always first greeted by the guardians of the farm, the dogs. All of them are friendly, and of course if you pet them they are then your constant companions while you are choosing your gourds.

Cleaning of the Gourds
While I have made many trips to the farm, this time I was able to see a part of the production process that I haven't been able to witness before. The farm offers gourds that are cleaned and ready for you, and they do a pretty good job considering the amount of gourds they are working with. Very rarely I will have to do some cleaning, but most times the gourds are ready to work with. This is one of the things that I am most appreciative of with this grower, because cleaning gourds can be the most labor intensive part of doing gourd art.

As I started walking to the pole barn, there were a bunch of gourds in the metal tub getting a bath. I would love to have this set up for gourd cleaning, so effective and time saving.

Choosing of the Gourds
We gather many different types of gourds because we have an array of different artwork that we create with them. We choose large African Bushel, Bushel Basket, and Kettle Gourds for creating our Gourd Art Bowls. In crafting our Ceremonial Rattles we use Apache Dippers, Long and Short Handle Dippers, Goose Neck and Water Jugs. My Folk Art Gourd Dolls are crafted with all sorts of gourds, but I mostly use Chinese Bottle Gourds, Banana Gourds, and Goose Neck Gourds. African Bushel Gourds of a large size are used for our frame drums. Then of course we create pendants and jewelry from the gourds. We use the scraps from all types in doing so, but will also choose some nice Zucca Gourds and Cannon Ball Gourds.
The farm separates their gourds by type making it easy for them and visitors to find what they are looking for.

Walking through the barn looking at all the gourds could be compared to walking through an art supply store and looking at canvas. As you pick them up and check them for thickness and integrity, you begin thinking about what that "specific" gourd could become and all of its possibilities. Whenever I may be feeling a creative block, a walk through the gourd farm can pull me out of it before I leave. By the time we are back in the car for the drive home, I have a  list of themes and ideas for our gourd gathering in the back seat.
Once home I am ready to begin working with them. We grab pencils and start marking what each of them will be so that the cutting, grinding, shaping, and inside cleaning is more efficient. Over the next several weeks it looks as if we have a gourd factory, with various works stations set up to handle their processes.
Now, these two really spoke to me at the farm, although I am not entirely sure what they will become. They are wild cards...and the magic will be revealed later.

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