Tag Archives: gourds

The Gourd Adventure Continues: A Craft Room and a View


Good morning Everyone!

I might have overdone things just a tad on Tuesday, so I spent Wednesday happily engaged in mostly sedentary activities.  I thought I’d share a little bit of what I did.

Gourd fronts

 Some of you may remember a post in August I did called Out of Our Gourds for Gourds.  In that post, for the first time, you met the newly formed, but not yet finished, pumpkin gourd on the left with both a front (above) view and a back (below) view. 

Gourd Backs

Mom finished the Santa gourd in Jacksonville, but she had brought the other gourd back up here with her.  She was going to finish it while she was here, but since she is making the Rapunzel costume for Kayla, which, by the way, is going to be gorgeous, she won’t have time.  So yesterday, I took over the task of starting to finish the pumpkin gourd.  I have some more detail work to do, but when I put my brushes up at 5:00 p.m yesterday, the pumpkin gourd was starting to shape up.

Pumpkin Gourd Front, Stage 2

 

Pumpkin gourd back, stage 2

Hopefully I will get a chance to show you the final version; there’s not too much left to be done besides some finishing on the leaves and some outlining. 

The pumpkin gourd came up for discussion because I first had finished a Halloween sign to put in the front of the house, and all of my orange paints were out.  I am pretty pleased with it, even if I do say so myself.

Halloween Sign, Close Up

It is supposed to be staked into the ground. 

I’m probably going to put it somewhere near the corner of the house where the bird house gourd that my grandfather gave me recently is hanging proudly from the only one of three trees in our yard suitable for it. 

Corner of house

For those readers who are part of the close-knit gourd community which someday I hope to meet, here is a close-up of the gourd.  I don’t know where it was originally purchased. 

After a solid afternoon of painting, I needed to stretch my legs and get out of the craft room formerly known as the great room in my house (don’t worry, Mark, we’ll have it back to normal soon – would Christmas Eve be too late?) so I walked a half block down the street to take pictures of my lake to share with you. 

An afternoon moon was out.  When Kayla was little, we would try to guess what Miss Moon had to say to Mr. Sun that was so important for her to arrive early to see him.  They would have some interesting conversations.

Afternoon Moon

The lake is always pretty.

The Lake Right After A Speed Boat Went By

The trees with the lake are also beautiful.

We are starting to see as well the first harbingers of fall – and yes, fall arrives in Alabama, it is just a softer, slower process than the explosion up North.  The changing of the leaves is not controlled by temperature, but rather by the length of the days – as the days get shorter, the leaves start to turn.  Because the days get shorter faster up North, your trees turn much more quickly.  Because our days get shorter more gradually, our trees gently fade into colors bit by bit, but once they all get turned, it is just as pretty. 

First harbingers of fall

 Not a bad way, overall, to spend a day recovering from surgery, is it?

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

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Out of Our Gourds for Gourds


Good morning Everyone!

Mom and Kayla Working on Their Gourds

This weekend, my mom, who is visiting, Kayla and I had the chance to work on a craft project together.  My mom brought up two huge gourds, which she had allowed to dry for over a year, which she wanted to paint; one is to be a Christmas decoration, painted like a Santa, and the other is to be a Halloween decoration. 

The Picture They Knew I Was Taking

Well, I got a little curious, because it seemed odd to me that a plant would be developed solely for decorative purposes, and Mom couldn’t think of any food purposes behind the gourd, so I did what any reasonable 21st century individual would do – I googled “gourd.”  I found out several interesting things about them. 

The Picture They Did Not Know I Was Taking!

First, they are related to cucumbers and melons.  I wouldn’t have guessed either relationship, although had I seen the scientific name for the gourd family first, Cucurbitaceae, I might have been able to guess at the cucumber relationship. 

Hmmmm - Doesn't look much like a cucumber to me!

Second, they were brought to the United States around 10,000 years ago with the peoples who crossed over the land bridge which then existed on the Bering Straits.  Genetic tests have shown that the American bottle gourd is most closely related to the Asian bottle gourd.  The Asian bottle gourd is descended from the African bottle gourd. 

The gourd is not quite as big as Kayla, but close!

Third, and I find this most interesting, the gourd was the first domesticated plant in the Americas.  It was not grown as a food crop, but as a container.  The gourd itself is the fruit of the plant; its shell is strong and buoyant, and has been used for thousands of years as containers, for musical instruments, and fishing floats.  FN. 

Gourd fronts with finished base coat

Fast forward about 10000 years to my dining room table, where our gourd painting experience had begun.  Mom had downloaded directions on how to paint the Santa Claus from the internet, and had a much smaller example of what she wanted the Halloween gourd painted like, so art class was officially in session. 

Gourd Backs

We spent about three hours on Sunday afternoon working on them, and didn’t get much further than the base coats, but we had a lot of fun doing it!  I can’t help but wonder, though, if the gourds feel that they have taken a step down, from valued container or musical instrument, to simple decoration, but perhaps they are just grateful to still be useful even after 10,000 years!

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

FN.  See, “An Asian Origin for a 10,000-year-old domesticated plant in the Americas, ” from the Dec. 20, 2005 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America for further information if you are interested.