Posted 17th Mar 2017
Amanda Rutland of CountryArt Designs fills us in on the fascinating backstory of how she fell into gourd art and how her passion for the craft started
"I was looking for something interesting and different to grow on my allotment and found some ‘hard-shell gourd’ seeds which, supposedly, could be used in crafts. I was intrigued - I’d never heard of them and neither had anyone I knew.
It took a couple of years of trial and error to grow a fruit I could work with - after all, these are plants that grow in long, hot summers...
I found the varieties would grow in such amazing shapes, meaning you would never know what you would get. This unpredictability only added to them and I quickly fell in love with them, wanting to showcase and celebrate what nature can do.
A piece of nature's pottery
The pieces are so versatile. For instance, did you know that for centuries they have been used as water carriers, bowls and for storage?
After the fruits have been harvested they will be left to cure (this is the process of letting them dry out naturally & completely). This can be a slow process, taking between 6 months to a year (sometimes more depending on the size of the gourd) and will result in it transforming from a shiny green, heavy fruit to a mouldy looking brown lightweight lump!
It’s only once the mould has been scrubbed off that the pale brown shell can be revealed, and the true beauty starts to shine through.
There are many processes to creating a piece of gourd art, including cleaning, cutting, drilling, modelling, staining, painting, varnishing and fitting. I love the fact that there are so many different aspects, as it means it never gets boring!
A lot of time will be spent experimenting with ideas and finishes. When I’ve decided what I want to produce, I’ll find a suitable gourd that fits. Sometimes it can be the other way round and the gourd shape tells me what it’s going to be.
For anyone that wants to start growing and making their own gourd art, I would say you need to have a lot of patience! For example gourds grown this year will not be ready until next year. There are no guarantees they will be mature enough to produce a hard shell but if they do, the possibilities are endless and they’re well worth the wait."
You can see Amanda's designs here.