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Project

Gourd Bowls

Mixing painted bowls made from dried gourds with a pair of whole crook necks gives the autumnal standbys a life beyond the Thanksgiving table.

Introduction

Although they are traditional fall-decorating fodder, these gourds manage to look surprisingly fresh -- more evocative of modernist ceramics than of paper pilgrim-hat place cards (not that there's anything wrong with those). Mixing painted bowls made from dried gourds with a pair of whole crook necks gives the autumnal standbys a life beyond the Thanksgiving table.

Resources: Plasti-Kote Odds n' Ends enamel, plastikote.com for stores.

Materials

  • Gourds
  • Saw -- any saw would do but a jigsaw works best
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint brushes
  • Can of paint primer
  • High-gloss craft enamel
  • Metallic pad or Ice cream scooper

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Trace a line around the gourd.

  2. Step 2

    Cut gourd in half with saw.

  3. Step 3

    Discard seeds and dried membrane, then place gourd in bowl of warm water. Allow gourd to soak for about 20 minutes.

  4. Step 4

    Scrape away remaining pulp using metallic pad or an ice cream scooper.

  5. Step 5

    Sand gourd.

  6. Step 6

    Apply a coat of primer and let dry.

  7. Step 7

    Paint bowl with high-gloss craft enamel.

  8. Step 8

    Fill bowl with natural, textured accents such as acorns, dried pomegranates, fresh rose petals, mini dried gourds, and thistle.

Source
The Martha Stewart Show, September 2007

Reviews (15)

  • AmishGourds 23 Nov, 2010

    I sell leather dye on my website, www.amishgourds.com. Also sell cut and cleaned out gourd bowls if anyone is interested, I do the messy part, you finish any way you like.

  • lam23m 2 Nov, 2009

    can you buy leather dye at a craft store ?
    chezlou can you recommend a safe way to cut a gourd ?
    my gourds sometimes get soft before they are dry - any advice ?

  • genealogynut 19 Oct, 2008

    I was told that if you saw the gourd, the insides have a very abrasive smell that will get into your lungs and mouth, so it is safer to wear a respirator when cutting them open. I have several gourd bowls and you really need that or it will get into your mouth,eyes

  • dgags013 16 Oct, 2008

    my comment is more of a question; How long does it take for gourds to dry out;and do you dry them out before or after you cut them

  • chezlou 15 Oct, 2008

    Having had some experience with "gourding" i can offer some advice. Be very careful of the insides as they can cause "gourd flu". People with allergies to mold should not try this. Also, the gourds are very hard and you need to be very careful when you cut them - knives break (as well as saws) and you can cut yourself quite badly. If you want a real natural look - try using leather dye instead of high gloss enamal - it makes a lovely finish. However, you must seal the finished surface.

  • Encee 15 Oct, 2008

    I kinda thought this should be done in advance. No doubt they do take 6 months to dry. I may take the ebay idea, thanks Roses : ), but I will try my hand at making a few of these for next year. I have this idea of a nice grouping for the dining room table.

  • HappyCrafter 15 Oct, 2008

    You can sometimes get pretty good gourds on ebay. They are already dry and some are already to paint. Prices vary though.

  • Roses2you 15 Oct, 2008

    Gourds take about 6 months to dry, They do get moldy as they dry , but that is not harmful. I lay mine out on newspaper so air can get to them. I scraped the mold and skin off them as they aged, but some people don't. I think the bowl"s would last a long time. Dried gourds kept indoors last a number of years. I have some that are 6 years old. When you dry your gourds keep them in a cool dry place, don't let them freeze. i used the coolest part of my basement..

  • Roses2you 15 Oct, 2008

    Gourds take about 6 months to dry, They do get moldy as they dry , but that is not harmful. I lay mine out on newspaper so air can get to them. I scraped the mold and skin off them as they aged, but some people don't. I think the bowl"s would last a long time. Dried gourds kept indoors last a number of years. I have some that are 6 years old. When you dry your gourds keep them in a cool dry place, don't let them freeze. i used the coolest part of my basement..

  • Roses2you 15 Oct, 2008

    Gourds take about 6 months to dry, They do get moldy as they dry , but that is not harmful. I lay mine out on newspaper so air can get to them. I scraped the mold and skin off them as they aged, but some people don't. I think the bowl"s would last a long time. Dried gourds kept indoors last a number of years. I have some that are 6 years old. When you dry your gourds keep them in a cool dry place, don't let them freeze. i used the coolest part of my basement..

  • mtharp 15 Oct, 2008

    You can also make them into birdhouses by cutting a [filtered word] in the "belly" of the gourd. I've painted flowers and vines on them and shellacked them to protect them from weather. They are cute and make great gifts.

  • mtharp 15 Oct, 2008

    It takes several months for the gourds to dry thoroughly and they do get moldy. I scrub mine with soapy clorox water and then let them dry. You can then decorate any way you wish. I've painted them into santas and snowmen; cut them in half, added wire handles and painted them to look like jack-o-lanterns. The possibilities are endless and fun.

  • agthomas57 15 Oct, 2008

    @nemommy: Yes, the gourd will dry fairly quickly, and last for years. The gourd bowls in the photo, both natural and with glossy, opaque paint, are great. I especially like the lavender crookneck bowl, with an intentionally slanted top. I wonder if one would put a floor in it, to make a true bowl, or if it's bottomless? I have used leather dyes (followed by spray varnish) to color gourds. The colors are lovely, natural-looking, and transparent, so you can see the natural markings on the gourd.

  • nemommy 15 Oct, 2008

    I'd also like to know if this is something that drys out and you can use from year to year or is is only meant to be used for a few days or a week?

  • housemama 15 Oct, 2008

    What are the best conditions for drying gourds and how long does it take? I live in the NW and mine always seem to get moldy...