Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Tutorial with Judy of Holly Ridge Creations


Gourds: Cleaning & More

Before I begin my gourd cleaning tutorial, I want to tell you a little about them. I have been working with gourds since the mid 80's and they are still one of my favorite painting surfaces.
The gourd is in the pumpkin family and some are edible. Unlike a pumpkin, a gourd will dry and the surface will be wood like. When asked how long a dried gourd will last, my husband always says it lacks two days lasting forever...don't ask, you have to know Mike!
Gourds are native to Africa and the bottle gourd is thought to be the oldest plant domesticated by humans. Gourds have been used as musical instruments, masks, pipes, canteens, sponges, water jugs, flower pots and the list goes on. Of course, my favorite use is decorative...you gotta love a gourd Santa.
Gourd seeds should be planted in the early spring after any threat of frost. The plant looks much like a pumpkin or squash vine. A gourd loves sunshine, water and good drainage. When the vine and leaves begin drying out it is about time for harvest. Check the vines for moisture because they can look brown on the outside and still have moisture on the inside. To insure the gourd has dried completely, you should wait until the stem on which the gourd is attached is hard or brittle and dry before you pick it.
Green gourds should never be stored inside your home to dry because of the many types of mold that grow on them during the drying process. The gourd will dry quickest if it can get air and sunshine. It will also dry stored in a shed or even left out in the field. Several types of mold grow on the gourd making it look like it is decaying. So, don't throw your drying gourd away because it is black and nasty looking...that's just the gourd doin' it's thang!
I am cleaning egg gourds for this tutorial because the size will be easy to work with. You will use the same process to dry all sizes. See the nasty mold I was talking about? Even that white color you see on the gourds is mold!
Cover the gourds with a solution of hot water and bleach. Approximately 1/4 cup of bleach per gallon of water will do...I am very specific in my application, I add the amount of water I want then pour in the bleach till it smells good and bleachie! (If it is a sunny, hot summer day, you can tie your wet gourds inside a plastic bag along with wet towels and set in direct sunlight instead of using this soaking process.)
While soaking cover the gourds with an "old" towel, making sure it is wet. If you are cleaning bigger gourds you will probably need to weigh them down so that as much of the gourd is under water as possible.
I let the gourds soak for at least an hour then check them to see how soft the mold has become and how easily it will come off. When soaked long enough you should be able to just wipe some of the mold off. The gourd will have to be scrubbed to remove all the mold.
Use something like those green Scotch pads or a copper Choreboy...I don't use steel wool because particles of steel can actually imbed in the surface of the gourd and rust, causing it to turn brown. I found the blue scrubber I am using at Wal-Mart in the broom aisle. It originally had a white handle and is more coarse that the Scotch pads. Scrub off as much mold as you can.
Remember that white mold, it can be ornery! You may also need to use a knife to remove some of the more stubborn spots. Rinse the gourds after all the mold has been removed. I add a little bleach to my rinse water...you could say I'm a little paranoid when it comes to the mold!! Now, they are ready to lay out to dry. Make sure gourds are completely dry before using. They can be put in the oven on low to speed up the process. Be sure and keep an eye on them, gourds do burn.
Voila, the gourds are pretty, clean...
and now the real fun can begin.
Thank you Judy for this wonderful tutorial!
You can find Judy here:

4 comments:

HollyRidgeCreations said...

You are very welcome...I loved doing it and am so happy you shared it.

Judy

Kim said...

Great tutorial!
Kim

Deb~Paxton Valley Folk Art said...

Judy, a wonderful tutorial, thank you! I've never grown or painted gourds but now I want to give it a try! Deb

Laura Sweet said...

Wow, Judy! I didn't know all this work went into preparing gourds before you could paint on them. Very interesting tutorial, thanks for sharing!

Laura