Gerri BishopLinks Section
|Southwest Gourd Association|
|Southwest Gourd Patch Phoenix (always under construction) |
We are a friendly, welcoming gourd art group that hopes you will visit and join. We love to share our knowledge, learned techniques and camaraderie, and we enjoy encouraging the artist within that exists in all our members whether they realize it or not at first. Come and see. You'll be amazed at what creative people can do with a CALABASH!
The picture you see here includes many of our members, but not all, and the "gourd quilt" you see was done by all of us in this picture. It is beautiful and inspired a second one that was even better and was won in a game of chance at the annual gourd festival in Casa Grande. To see better pictures of this piece of art, click on the "Gourd Quilt" link on the left side of this page.
If you love gourds, think you might like them, or are just curious, we hope to see you at a meeting. Information is under "Monthly Meetings."
If you are interested in joining the SWGA, just come to a meeting and pick up a form. You DO NOT have to be a member to be a welcome participant in our meetings. We love new faces and sharing our enthusiasm for gourd art.
Annual dues are just $16.
|So, what do we do at meetings? First of all, we have FUN!
Every other month, we have some kind of demonstration of a technique or a discussion of various techniques. Some examples: Tenerife, colored pencil, dyes, carving, story gourds, acrylics, kumihomo, etc. Group members, gourd artists from outside our club, or teachers give a demonstration or a short workshop on a technique. Workshop supplies for members are paid by the club. On alternate months, "tips" are talked about and shared.
We may also have “challenges” where we create a gourd using skills demonstrated at a prior’s month’s demonstration or we each get a bag with identical supplies and each person makes a gourd using the supplies (our own ideas). We may also provide a second challenge to do instead if a challenge is something someone really doesn't want to do. Members are asked to share their inspiration and challenges while creating a challenge gourd.
Show and Tell happens every other month as well. Members bring in pieces they are working on or have completed and show the group and talk about what they did and how. If they have problem areas, we give suggestions for techniques or products that might help. On other months, "tips" are shared regarding techniques, products, etc.
Here are some tips for working with gourds:
• Always be safe. Protect your respiratory system with a safety respirator rated for particulates.
• Always protect your eyes with safety glasses.
• If your skin is sensitive to irritants, cover exposed areas with a shirt or apron…remember your skin is the largest organ of your body and will absorb particulates that fall on it.
If you do woodburning on a gourd, always have a fan pulling the smoke away from you, or pushing it away from behind.
Cleaning the Outside of a Gourd: Use Dawn liquid dish soap. Rub it all over the dry gourd. Then soak a towel in hot water, wrap the gourd and let it sit for at least an hour. Use a stainless steel scrubber to grind off the mold and white matter. If there is a lot of thick white skin, you may need to scrub longer, or let it dry and sand off the white stuff using a fine grit sandpaper or hand held sander.
Cleaning the Inside of a Gourd: Soaking the inside of the gourd with water can help eliminate the problem of flying dust and mold particles, as well as help ease the removal of the stubborn inside debris. Fill up the inside of your gourd completely with water and soak it overnight. Check to see if the debris is beginning to pull away from the shell. If so, you can begin to pull and scrape it out. Be careful not to scrape too hard or apply too much pressure because you can puncture through some of the thinner shelled gourds.
Cleaning the Outside With Dirt: You can also put a gourd in a can, trashcan, or whatever is big enough, and cover it with soil (garden or potting). Wet the soil completely and leave the gourd for two or three days. The mold and white stuff will come off easily with a scrubber. If you need the gourd totally clean, you still may need to sand a few spots.
Sanding small areas: Glue a piece of fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit or finer) to the back of an old spoon to sand large concave areas or hard-to-reach curves. (This is especially useful for sanding inside a gourd with a long, thin neck to create a smooth inner surface.) To sand smaller indentations, try wrapping your sandpaper around a wooden pencil, or around the tapered end of a disposable chopstick. You'll be able to sand even tricky surfaces to create a smooth, uniform finish on your gourd! And, of course, some creative gourd folks have created some very handy tools for doing this if you want to spend the money on them.
Always clean your gourds outside to keep mold out of your home.
|Here is Some Information that may Interest You|
If you're not familiar with gourds, here's a brief description: they are fruit of a vine really, cousins to squash, cucumbers and melons, but a hard shelled variety. They are used in many third world countries as tools (water dippers, water pots), and articles of "clothing" (hats for example). They are also used for art.
Art on a hard fruity vegetable? Who knew? Gourds aren't good to eat, though you could if you were truly desperate, but they're awesome for art.
Each gourd is unique...so each art piece made from a gourd is also one-of-a-kind. Once a gourd is completely dry, the skin is dense, hard, sturdy, often thick and can be burned, painted, dyed, cut, filed, carved, etc., just like wood.
Gourd art can last as a family heirloom if it is properly cared for. Cleaning with a soft, damp cloth is all you need.
|Where to Get Gourds|
We recommend the Wuertz Farm in Casa Grande, Arizona.
The Wuertz family consists of honest, hard working 4th generation farmers who have become experts in growing wonderful, thick, hard-skinned gourds.
They also host an annual gourd Festival the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday in February.
It is now the largest gourd festival in the U.S. with a gourd art competition, multiple gourd vendors selling gourds and gourd supplies, great food, fun for kids and fun for absolutely everyone.
If you haven't been before, you will be completely mesmerized.
|Arizona Art Alliance Affiliation|
The SWGA does not (at this moment) belong to the Arizona Art Alliance (AAA), which is an Arizona organization for Arizona artists only that is dedicated to bringing art to the forefront as an intregal part of life, and to its Outreach programs for At Risk Teens, Alzheimer Patients, children in hospitals and Veterans. Currently the Alliance doesn't have an active gallery but we may one day participate again when there are more opportunities to show our work.
We have 12 members of SWGA that have been juried into the AAA and are able to show their work when the AAA has art shows.
|Wuertz Festival Information|
Wuertz Festival in 2016 will be held the 12th, 13th and 14th of February, 2016 at the Pinal County Fairgrounds, Casa Grande, AZ. The fairgrouds are located on Highway 287 at 11 Mile Corner Road and Highway 287.
Chair people for the Competition Art Show sponsored by AZGS are set and actively involved in finishing up details for the competition. Thank you to everyone who volunteered!! Check out Arizona Gourd Society website for more detailed information.
| Other Gourd Groups in Arizona|
Gourd groups in Arizona are called Gourd Patches. If you don't live in or near the Phoenix area, here are some other places you might find a gourd group.
Old Pueblo Gourd Patch in Tucson
Lizard Flats Gourd Patch in the NW Valley (was NW Gourd)
New River Patch in the New River/Anthem area
Spirit of the Desert Gourd Patch in Sun Lakes
Yavapai Gourd Patch in Prescott
Tolleson Gourd Patch in Tolleson
Valley Gourd Patch in Green Valley
And, of course, Southwest Gourd Patch in Phoenix
|SOUTHWEST GOURD ASSOCIATION|