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Humble Gourds

Not a pretty picture... Yet someday, these blessed urchins of nature may evolve into something wondrous to behold.   Not overnight, of course! Not even over a couple of dozen overnights.

If you were expecting a tutorial, forget it!  Every day spent with a gourd is a new learning experience so the best we can offer is a collection of random thoughts and observations that have come to us over the past four years. (Truth be told, we still don't know what the heck we're doing from one gourd to the next.) But we thought it might be interesting to amble through the evolutionary process from moldy mess to final outcome. This will be an on-going adventure....  Right now, all we have is the moldy mess!

Forget everything you've ever heard or read about the life of an artist being romantic. There is nothing romantic about scraping slime off a gourd. Actually, it's pretty disgusting. And all that mold and goop doesn't just evaporate once you've removed it. Rather, it sits in your now-spattered sink plotting how to clog your pipes big time if you let it escape down the drain. There's a multitude of tips and tricks about the cleaning process but we rely on the old fashioned "bleach and detergent in a tub of hot water" soak. This is followed by a brisk scrub with a steel wool pad, a hot rinse, a cold rinse, and a pat down with a soft terry towel. Any remaining residue is removed with assorted instruments of torture (exacto blade, sand paper) once the victim reaches our workshop table. The most delightful part of the process is discovering what's been hiding beneath all that muck for almost a year. It's astounding! How can anything so ugly be so beautiful? Who knows? But after the cleaning we always give the ever-fertile imagination a well-deserved rest and allow our former ugly duckling time to be what it is,-- a gourd. Surely, one of nature's most awesome works of art.

Washed Gourds
Ah, that's better....

Much like humans, few gourds boast a perfect complexion. They have unsightly moles and ugly dry patches and wrinkles and lines and blemishes that protrude. No problem! This is why God gave us sandpaper, patching paste and wood putty.

Perfect symmetry is also a rarity in the gourd but in our opinion, one of the crafter's greatest challenges. Truth be told, sometimes it's better to go with the flow and "use" the imperfections rather than try to conceal them beneath a mound of spackling compound.  Like beauty, a flaw is also in the eye of the beholder, and with a gourd, it's not always easy to tell the difference.   With a gourd... sometimes it's the flaw that most eloquently defines "beauty."

Gourd1 Gourd2 Gourd3 Gourd4 Gourd5
What do you see?

From whence do the ideas flow? We're sure some artists believe that they are in control and that they alone determine the final outcome.   We once thought like that. Actually, we thought like that more than once.  "I am the arteest! You are the gourd!" Boy, did that delusion bite the dust in a hurry!!   But we learned from our mistakes (some of them). And what we learned from the gourd is that we don't tell it diddley-squat.   It tells us!   Should we attempt to craft it into something it's not destined to be, everyone's cranky (gourd included). So when in doubt, we watch and we wonder and we wait.   The gourd will eventually make all things clear to us, --preferably, before we're pushing up daisies from six feet under.

Gourd1 Gourd1a      A miracle

Beyond the cleaning, the prep work, and attending to that all-important gourd-speak, there is no procedure set in stone.   Once the second basecoat is applied, the imagination is given a free rein and depending on the amount of caffeine consumed on any given morning, that can sometimes be a very scary ride.  But also one filled with a lot of laughs, a few "oh, dang-its," a dozen "ohmigosh-would-you-look-at-thats" and six to eight hours of unfettered joy.  Not a bad way to spend the day, what?

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Copyright Cinnamon 2003