DECORATING YOUR GOURD

By Dorothy LaVonne Mitchell (LaVonne) on August 25, 2011

Decorating your gourd can be most fun and educational. It is also a bit addictive once you start. You will find yourself not doing just one but several and hanging them all over your yard in the trees. Fourth and last in the series.

DECORATING YOUR GOURD

WAYS TO DECORATE YOUR GOURD

DECOUPAGE:

You will need:

1. A medium to large cleaned and prepared with entrance hole birdhouse gourd.

2. A material or choice of materials to decoupage. Some possibilities are: pressed flowers/foliage, papers of all kinds (thinner papers do best), cloth, and pictures or used stamps.

3. Waxed paper, newspapers

4. Thick brown cord or ribbon for hanging

5. Modge podge (matte or glossy)

6. Acrylic Sealer (spray can)

7. X-acto knife

 Procedure:

(1) Put newspapers down on your working surface.

(2) Look at your gourd and decide what decoupage material would best suit this gourd. You may have something specific you would like to try for..OR, you might just like to start out and see what happens! You might be pleasantly surprised.

(3) If you are using pressed flowers/leaves that are so brittle they might break easily, you might want to soak them in water for a bit (15-20 minutes, depending on how dry and brittle they are).

(4) Work on waxed paper. Apply material in small amounts by brushing on the glue or get medium onto the back side of the material. Pieces can usually be moved and rearranged for a minute or two after being placed on the gourd. And, of course, you may cover any "mistakes" any time by gluing another piece over the existing piece. If using paper, napkins, pressed flowers/leaves shape the material for the birdhouse starting at the front. Go ahead and cover over the entrance hole. What you will do after gluing that section on, is gently make some slits close to the hole with an X-acto knife and then add some modge podge around the inside edges of the hole and fold down the material evenly around. It looks much nicer this way.  When you cover the bottom, you cover over the drain holes. When it is dry re-drill the holes or use a awl or nail to re-open the drain holes.

(5) After gluing each piece, go back over it with another coating of glue, being sure to seal the edges.

(6) After you have completed gluing all the pieces into their proper places, let the project dry thoroughly, then feel to see if you have any loose edges. They will feel rough to your touch. If so, give the piece another layer of glue. Repeat until the gourd feels smooth all over.

(7) Now you will need to drill a hole at the top of the birdhouse if it didn't already have one. Drill a fair size hole large enough to be able to insert the thick cord through it.

(8) Take a piece of thick brown cord and cut about a 12 inch piece, then fold in half and insert into the top of the birdhouse, ends first. Then take a hook of some sort (long wire with a hook works best) to pull the cord from the inside of the first opening closest to you. Once you do this then make a large knot at the ends and cut off. Then pull the top loop up for hanging. If these instructions are confusing just ask your hubby, he will love to help you figure it out. [I drill a fairly small hole and use 39 LB fishing line for my gourds to hang.]

When you are finished decorating it and have put on the last coating of ModPodge spray the birdhouse with an acrylic sealer to protect it from moisture.

There you have it a very adorable spring project to decorate any part of your home or garden area. If you plan on hanging it outdoors make sure you spray the birdhouse with extra coats of heavy sealant for protection.

Some tips when decorating your gourd: 

You can use laces and ribbons and small strands of beads to accent your gourd and add extra pizzazz.

SOLID COLOR PAINTING:

You can use solid colors of acrylic paints like green, blue, burnt orange, apple red, sunburst yellow and any other that you like.  Be sure to let them dry between coats and after you are finished spray at least 2 coats of acrylic clear spray to protect your work when it is completely dry, apply cord to hang it with and then find a place in your garden.

DECORATING YOUR GOURD:

With flowers, little animals, birds, butterflies, bees, etc can be done freehand, with carbon paper or stencils.

For making your gourd into a Birdhouse here are a few guidelines.

Making Your Birdhouse Gourd 

Pick gourds that are dry and easy to work with.  Then clean the outside of the gourd by socking it in water.  Then scrub the outside skin with a scrubber.  A dull edge of a knife can be used for the more difficult spots to clean.  Depending on which birds you would like to attract, find out what size that needs to be cut out.  The following are the recommended sizes for each bird.

 

Minimum Size Gourd

Diameter of Entrance

 

 

 

Chickadee

4 - 6"

1 1/8 - 1 1/4"

Flicker

7"

2 1/2"

Nuthatch

5"

1 1/4"

Owl

Large Gourd

5 - 6"

Owl (small)

5 - 6"

1 1/2"

Purple Martin

6"

2 1/2"

Titmouse

5"

1 1/2"

Woodpecker

5"

1 1/4"

Wren

4"

1 1/8"

  The position of the opening is important.  It should be on the vertical face of the gourd to keep the rain out.  Drain holes on the bottom will keep the gourd dry.  Sometimes, small gravel in the bottom of the gourd will help weigh it down.  A perch can be used but it not necessary.  The birdhouses can be hung as is or a protective coat of varnish can be applied.  Purple Martin birdhouse should be painted white.  To hang the gourd birdhouse, cut or drill  a hole through the top to attach a leather string or a wire.  Choose a location where the birds will be safe from animals.

http://www.foothillsfarm.com/ginnysgourds/crafttips/crafttips.htm

Tools you will need to decorate your gourds.

Artist brushes

Decorating spunge “brushes”

Paper towels

A cup or small jar of water with a couple of drops of dish soap in it.  And one of clear water. Oh, and an assortment of acrylic paints from the craft department of Wal Mart, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Franklin’s Craft Store to name a few.

If you are good at mixing colors, you can just get the primary colors and then mix to get the colors you want for your flowers, leaves etc. on your gourd.

Next there is carving and wood burning a gourd with shapes.

Wood-Burning Gourds

The ancients used various methods to burn designs into gourd surfaces. Some used metal spear tips heated over a flame. Others applied various acids and then held the gourd over a flame.

I’m glad gourd artists don’t have to do that anymore!

Today all you need is a hobbyist’s wood-burning pen. The standard tip is used for line drawing. Tips in various shapes are also available.

If you become very accomplished at wood-burning gourds, you may want to invest in a professional model of pen with electronic heat control and more tip variations.

Trace or draw your design with pencil or chalk. Heat up the tool and trace over your design.

Different effects are achieved by amount of pressure and time of contact. When you touch the hot tip to the cool gourd, heat immediately dissipates. The implication is that a line starts out strong and becomes lighter as you go.

If you want an even thickness of line, you need to go more slowly and occasionally lift the tip to allow the heat to rebuild.

When your design has been engraved, clean off any traces of pencil or chalk; You can stop right there or fill in the design with stains or paints.

Carving

2011-08-25/LaVonne/ca5d8d

Make sure your gourd is clean and dry.  Choose your pattern from any stencil or do it free hand.  Be sure that your design leaves ample room so that the gourd maintains its strength.  Drill the correct size hole for the bird you are designing the gourd for. 

  • Carving your gourd can be a simple design or a very intricate design. It’s up to you and your talents. Just take a spin through the internet websites on Carved gourds. There are some righteous carved gourds.

 TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST CARVING
Tip #1: The first lesson I learned using hand tools
is to wear some protection on your hands, especially
your thumb. After a couple of deep cuts to my
hand due to slips, I started wearing a glove on the
hand that holds the gourd.

Tip #2: Carving takes time and patience, start
with a fairly simple design and work your way from
there.

Tip #3.Woodfiller can help out if you make a
mistake. Also, gourd dust mixed with white glue
works well.

Tip #4: Good lighting is essential while carving.
Many times I would take a piece to a window or
outside and see marks that needed attention.

Tip #5: A set of riffle files come in handy when
you need to get into tight spaces

Tip #5: Deft lacquer works well to spray the
carved area to seal, but can be carved over if
needed. (Can be found at Lowes).

Tip #6: There are many forms of carving on a
gourd, some are rough some are smooth, go with
what you love doing.

Now that we have covered several ways to decorate your gourd and I wish you good fortune and enjoyment of your efforts.

LaVonne

Related articles:
, gourd, learning to decorate

About Dorothy LaVonne Mitchell
Single Senior Citizen, engaged in crafts. I like painting gourds, rocks and sewing various craft items: animals, dolls, quilts, and I like doing floral arrangements and mini-gardens.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Awesome!! sassafrass Aug 28, 2011 6:17 AM 3

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