It takes about a year from the time gourds are planted until they are mature, cured, cleaned and ready to be crafted. I hand-select each gourd, studying its shape and texture to determine what it wants to be! As a product of nature, most gourds have "imperfections" such as bumps, indentations and assymetry. Sometimes these features are incorporated into a design; they also contribute to the uniqueness of the gourd itself. No two gourds are alike!
Lots of prep work is involved...cleaning, sanding, puttying, etc. before the creative process even begins! Once prepped, a design is lightly sketched onto the gourd. Many times I work with just paint and the gourd in its original shape to create a piece. Other works are mixed media pieces with the incorporation of clay sculpture added to the gourd to transform the shape. I often attach pieces to wood pedestal bases.
Every piece is individually painted with several layers of acrylics giving meticulous attention to detail, and followed by a multi-step, hand-rubbed antiquing technique. Embellishments such as vintage style tinsel, mica glitter and charms are added to select pieces adding to the old-fashioned appeal.
A few gourds with a flawless patina (just to pretty to cover with paint) are carved/and or pyroengraved by my husband, Bob, who works a few hours in the studio when time allows. I've included a portfolio of some of his wonderful work. Bob accompanies me to shows and is my right hand man for some of the prep work. He is also the gourd grower!
Once gourds are cured, they will last a very long time with a little care. Never submerse a painted gourd in water! And do not drop the gourd on a hard surface...it may crack! If it is a holiday/seasonal piece, store in plastic container or a plastic grocery bag in a climate controlled, dry place when not in use.
Remember gourds are a product of nature and minor bumps, ridges, pinholes and other imperfections are typically found. This does not affect the quality of the piece.
Raw, dry gourds waiting to be transformed into gourd art!
WIP...work in progress in my studio.
A little bit about me... I have always loved creating and working with my hands. After 25 years in Healthcare, I decided it was time to switch gears. My husband, Bob, grew gourds for the greenhouse/ nursery business we ran on our farm for 14 years. I was always intrigued by what you could do with a gourd. My first craft show was 2007 where I sold all kinds of decorative painted items. The gourd art proved to be the most popular and as I got into juried shows it was important to have a consistent body of work. Fast forward to today and I am living my dream of creating art full time in my studio on our PA farmstead.
Bob and I have three grown sons, and a loyal rescued dog named Jax, who keep me company in the studio. When I'm not painting or sculpting, I enjoy my gardens, boating, cooking, reading and gatherings with friends & family, especially with my granddaughters. I also enjoy exploring historical areas as well as antique & artisan shops.
Kim Gladfelter, Owner/Artist