This has been on the back-burner for a few years, to record video for gourd crafting demonstrations and tutorials. I wanted to have some video content for students are aren't able to take a class with me in person, as well as try to reach some potential new gourders that are just looking to get into the craft.
All of us have been affected by virus lockdowns, and as an artist and instructor I have found my only lifeline is the internet, since so many events are canceled. I am sure you have also had many disappointments in this crazy year. So that was my impetus to plow ahead and begin to make some content for you!
No longer waiting until I have the right camera equipment, or the perfect lighting, or any other excuse that kept holding me back!
I have been "gourding" for 20 years- I cannot even believe it has been that long but it has!
Over the years I have made some gourd "oncers" which is my word for I just want to make it once, just so that I have the experience. Like the gourd lamp, the flute, the kalimba and the kaleidoscope.
A mask was something that I had not yet tried. Lots of people have made masks, they even have a history of being used by Native Americans, and they are a popular art form today.
That all being said, I started working on this in February and my original intention was to use real feathers to decorate it, much like other mask artists use. However as I started burning in the small feathers on the surface, I decided instead to use actual gourd pieces to turn into more feathers.
The winter months provide a time for some experimentation since that is the season when I feel like I don't need to be as productive. I am still productive, mind you, but I feel a little freer to just "play". Two new projects are in the "play" category, one I am not finished with and will share later. This one however, is ready to be shared!
Do you have 2020 vision? haha, couldn't resist that one! This year, I am only teaching at the PA Gourd Gathering, but I may teach a few private classes intermittently throughout the year.
This year I have 2 brand new classes, and 2 updated classes. Check them out below, and be sure to scroll all the way down for more info and a link to register.
Last week I had a fantastic day at a local elementary school's annual "Fine Art Day". I was asked to be one of 7 creative people sharing about our art.
At first I wasn't sure if I would have the needed energy to complete a presentation for each grade level- turned out to be 7 in one day! But the kids in each grade brought their enthusiasm and many questions and I had a blast!
Booth design is challenging. You would think a creative person would have no problem with it.
However, there are more obstacles to consider than just how the booth looks- which yeah is totally important.
1. Cost. (will it break my budget?)
2. Ease of transport (ie. My husband’s greatest concern- will it fit in the car/trailer?)
3. Will it allow for a good traffic flow of customers? (don’t want anyone getting trapped!)
4. How about sturdiness? (Will these shelves keep standing on unleveled ground, or fall if a customer bumps it?)
For the artist or crafter that does shows, this is an ongoing concern. I have countless aerial sketches of possibilities, only to find that what works on paper might not work in real life. There is still much to learn and much room for improvement.
Even though I did shows every year for a while, I took a bit of a hiatus and now feel ready to slowly transition back into them. That means new juried photos for me! Choosing 3-4 pieces that best represent my work was a challenge in itself, but the booth shot- that is the real kicker.
My booth was 8 years old. Collecting dust in a closet. Even though it did still look pretty good, it was definitely time for an upgrade.
Here is a picture of my very first emerging artist booth from 2003. My little fold up table top shelves were awesome (my dad made them!) and I loved how easy they were to store and fold up. But they did not leave much room for variation. The 5” tables were heavy and clunky and my table coverings were ok since they did not wrinkle at all but didn't quite fit right. And what was I thinking with the swoopy red transparent fabric???
After that my husband made me these free standing shelves. Got rid of the heavy tables (plus) but the shelves though looked nice were a bit tippy. I was always nervous of someone bumping them. Plus, they always needed these clamps on the back to keep them steady and I thought they looked unfinished. This picture was taken last year.
Recognize that drapery on the left? That was my old table covering! Recycle!
Now after not having tables, I found I wanted to go back to the tables! The greatest advantage is that there is great storage space under them. Here I changed out the 2 big metal and wood tables for 3 smaller lightweight ones. This way I have a little freedom to juxtapose them into the space in different ways. I can even still use my shelving- happens to fit perfectly around the smaller table which also gives extra stability.
And, my darling devoted husband built some beautiful wood pedestals to give a variety of heights. Plus a new little stand for my ornaments. This year I invested in table covers that are made for trade shows- fire retardant and fitting right over top and fit perfectly! I know, I know- they still need to be ironed!!
So the next thing to do was set up in the driveway and take pictures!
Still always a work in progress, but still progressing! What do you think?
This year I will be teaching more classes than ever before!
Here is a preview of all that will be available. Go to my calendar page for details on when and where each of these classes will be taught, plus links so you can sign up.
This Tuesday was my day to watch over the PA Gourd Society stand at the PA Farm Show. It is a fun event and many people stop by the ask questions about gourd growing and crafting.
A shot of part of the gourd stand with some artwork by PAGS members. Lots of variety! One thing I love about gourd art is how individual each piece is to the person who makes it.
Here is the gourd I was working on while I was there. Visitors always like to see an artist in action so I like to bring something to demonstrate the process.
This even caught the attention of Explore Harrisburg, who did a short video blog post which you can view on Facebook.
Howwwoooool hoooooowwwooooo! Can you imagine hearing packs of wolves howling, the sound seeming to come from everywhere over the hills? That is what I hear most days at various times living where I do in Lititz PA. Just over the hill, live about 18 packs of wolves at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA. Hearing them howl and visiting them was my motivation for this gourd.
If you are ever in the Lititz area, I highly recommend taking a tour of the Wolf Sanctuary. At this rescue, the wolves are fenced by pack, but they have lots of space to run. The tour guides carry buckets of frozen meat goodies so you are sure the wolves come close to the fence so everyone gets a good view! They are very knowledgeable about wolves and wolf-dog hybrids and I learned a lot there. It is wonderful all the work they do to keep the wolves healthy and happy, and to give them a chance in life where they may have faced euthanasia.
My other wolf inspiration comes from the pack at ZooAmerica at Hershey Park. I have visited both of these places several times to take photos, observe and draw. These are beautiful animals and PA was once a wild enough place to be home to wolves, but the last ones seen, or possibly killed in the early 1800s. I am not a supporter to reintroduce wolves to PA, because the land would not sustain a pack nowadays, but I was thinking back to the time before malls and paved roads, when Pennsylvania was altogether an abundant “Woods” and imaginatively what that could look like in my pyrography gourd scene.
Art has always been a part of my life, and I have worked in many different mediums.