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After almost 7 years I have decided that I should put all the e-mails I answer each week to good use! I will categorize the FAQ'S as this section gets larger. Please forgive spelling and grammar errors in this section due to the fact that I am copying and pasting the information onto this page.

I have never done this before. When I cut open my gourd. there was a white
substance with seeds in it. I removed this. Then there was a cork like
substance. My question is do I remove this? How much of it do I remove and
what do I use to remove it?
Please reply soon so I can finish my project.

The corky part that the seeds attached to can be sanded for a very nice finish! I like to use something like a melon baller to scrape out as much as I can. Then I would suggest taking a small piece of course sand paper and start in the center of the gourd pulling straight upward toward the outer edge. Use care not to use too much pressure or you might create unsightly scratches in the soft surface or worse yet, a crack in the rim.
Then graduate to fine piece of sand paper until you achieve the results you are happy with.
I would suggest dumping the gourd dust out every few stokes, it builds up quickly. Also, use a mask if possible, the dust is VERY fine and when you hear about people complaining of allergy problems with gourd crafting......This is what gets them!
Also, be sure to get out every speck of the spongy white part or perhaps if it is abundant you might want to just make sure it has a uniform look. It does not stain with wood stain or leather dye. I don't ever use acrylic or paints inside my gourds but I would think that they wouldn't adhere to it either.
You will understand everything I have said after your first try :)
In my opinion the inside of the gourds are sometimes the hardest part and take the most amount of time. Just be patient......Not taking the proper amount of time to get the inside right can ruin the whole look of the gourd in my opinion!
Write again if you have ANY questions along the way!

I've been checking your site out, and I must say that you have taught me a lot. Thank you. What I wanted to know was how you come up with a pricing on each gourd? Do you have a formula? Size, time, materials, what is the formula? I need help in that direction. So far I've made a couple for some co-workers and I'm having to come up with a price. Can you help me?
You have asked the hardest question!!!!!
To be very honest......One gourd that takes you 3 hours to make may sell so well that you can charge far more than it's worth, while the ones you really enjoy making may not sell for what it is REALLY worth, considering time and supplies.
When preparing for a show I put "temporary" prices on my gourds a few days prior and then try to calculate the time and money I spent........Then I re-price as best I can.
It's really amazing how some of the simplest designs will sell when a very detailed gourd may not sell at even half of what it's really worth! So much of it also depends on whether you are at a "Craft" show or an "Art" show. People at craft shows want to buy 10 items for a dollar and people at art shows walk in prepared to buy something they consider to be unique no matter what the cost.
I wish I could be more specific for you. However, I just haven't found a formula for this!


To paint a gourd you would follow the exact same rules as you do with wood. The best thing I can suggest is to find ANY painting book that you like the "style" and then do this;
once the gourd is clean and dry, sand it lightly and coat it with a base spray, like Kilz. That's what I use........ Then paint!

I took my 1st gourd class last week. What fun. In the class they told us to wear masks when cleaning the insides, cutting or burning. Both instructors said that gourds can be toxic to breath. Both of them have had several lung and eye infections. Do you know anything about this? If so, what makes them toxic? They've been doing gourds for years. Every time they try to "Cheat" they end up getting sick.
I'm just getting into the craft. My husband loved my 1st gourd.
Any info you have would be great.

Neither gourd dust or smoke from gourds have been proven toxic, as far as I know&ldots;... Many people complain of eye, and/or nose, throat irritation from it and I have also heard of people saying that it contributed to their lung or allergy related problems.
No scientific studies have been done that I have ever heard of.
I must add that I have noticed my eyes getting irritated in the same way when I pyroengrave in wood and other materials too! As for the gourd dust..........It is an eye irritant just like saw dust would be and because it's so fine when you are sanding it, it tends to really bother most people. Myself included! I would suggest wearing a mask as often as you can make yourself and using eye protection but I wouldn't go as far as saying they are toxic.

I would like to know if you can use prism pencils on gourds for color as to paint?

I use them very often when coloring my pyroengravings. You can use then same techniques as when you use them on paper. I use a moistened brush to soften the colors and to blend them.
Just coat them afterwards with a spray on coating such as Minwax Polyurethane.

Hi, Thanks for the tutorial. This gourd I'm writing about is my first and your page really helped. After I soaked and scrubbed the gourd clean the inside remained mottled from the mold? Does this cure OK.? Do you just paint over it to get an even look?

You can try filling it with a stronger concentration of bleach and letting it soak or you can paint over it. If you want, you can sand it down and paint it, then I wouldn't worry about the bleach.
I prefer to stain the inside usually. I try to bleach them until there are no stains left at all. This takes a great deal of patience with some gourds!

Dear Laurie,
You have inspired us more than anyone else from the Internet. You give practical advice on gourds. My craft-partner and I have fallen in love with gourds. She is of Native American descent and is the artist. She does wonderful Indians, and southwestern style scenes.
I am at the level of tracing and burning for birdhouses.
We ordered the DETAIL MASTER 111 DAGGER woodburner. Could you please help me with the numbers that you recommend for the basic tips that you like from Rockler? We like the DETAIL MASTER 111 DAGGER- just are lost regarding the tips. I am ordering a hand piece for a replaceable tip, rubber grips, and rubber finger protectors (as we have been burning our fingers.)

First, before you buy anything to help protect your hands, try cutting a piece from a Styrofoam cup large enough to wrap around the handle so that your fingers rest on it. I think it works as well as the pieces you can purchase. The tip that I like best and use for almost everything is the "Writing tip" I found it on-line at the following page:

I don't have a paper catalog in front of me so I'm not sure about it's catalog number.

I would like to ask you a question about finishes for my gourds. I have been carving, burning and painting on my gourds. I use acrylic craft paints for the painting part and I use polyacrylic finish when I am finished. However, I am finding that when I apply the polyacrylic with a brush (to avoid fumes), the acrylic paint seems to peel off when I put the polyacrylic on it. Should I use a different kind of paint (dye, stain, ink, etc) or a different finish? What do you use and like the best?

I never use anything but spray on Fast Drying Minwax Polyurethane.
I have tried many others and experienced the same problems you mentioned. Infact, when I first started doing gourds I was in Okinawa Japan and it was quite a pain to get American products. I had a choice of only 4! I won't mention each name brand here. However, I have always been very concerned about the lifespan of the crafts I sell. Therefore, I decided to run a test ( OK, selling gourds was all I had to do at that time&ldots;.) I tried each of the brands and did scratch, burn, and weather tests and found that the spray on Minwax Polyurethane was the only one that was durable enough for me!
I must add that they don't support me in any way for my endorsement of their product. I have gourds coated with Minwax that I made 7 years ago that still don't have a scratch on them and for that reason alone, I will use it on every gourd I ever make!
You can purchase it at Wal-Mart or at most hardware stores. I understand your concern about fumes. Just use a mask and do your spraying outdoors to avoid the fumes!

I just found your site today. Really enjoyed your journal and your
artwork! (Things are slow at work due to everyone being out for the
Garden question:
I am thinking about growing gourds in my garden this year along with
veggies. It looks like they can take up quite a bit of room, but I may be able to use the vines to shade some of my garden, since it tends to get a little burnt. Did you find that you had to water your vines every day last summer? I know we had a lot of rain, but there were some very hot days as well. We get a lot of butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds up here as well as honey bees, wasps, etc. I guess I will play it by ear as far as hand pollination goes.
Art question:
In your opinion, should I be able to learn the basics of gourd finishing, painting, pyroengraving online or are there classes you can take?

At first, I did water all the time and hand pollinate. However, I think they would have been just as successful if I hadn't! They were just the only thing I was growing at the time........The moths pollinated the gourds very well in the later months! The flowers only open at night, so it's the night insects you will need to do your pollinating.
As far as learning to gourd craft. I would suggest learning from books at first. You have plenty of Ideas once you get started. I don't think classes are really necessary. I learned when I lived in Japan and didn't even get a book until I was many months into it. They are much like wood so the same rules for painting, burning, and embellishing pretty much apply to the gourds. If you ever have any questions just write and I'll be happy to try and answer them for you.

Recommend this site to your friends

Since October 24th 1999

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