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Monday, May 2, 2016

Fascination of gourd decorating

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I have always had a fascination with the decorated gourds you can find in the fall time at various fall festivals.

Sometimes, you will find gourds that are painted, some that have been made into birdhouses, and others that are left to look natural.

One of my favorite gourds I have ever seen was cured and then made into a container with a flower arrangement coming out of it.

No matter how the gourds are used, they always have unique shapes and are eye appealing.

If you are able to purchase a gourd this fall and would like to make an eye appealing decoration with it, here are some steps to help you along your way.

After you have cleaned off the gourd, you should dry the surface. To do this, you should spread your gourds out on several layers of newspaper. You can place them outside during the day, but always bring them in at night.

You should avoid letting them come in contact with any dew while outside. It will take a week for the gourds to become surface-dried.

After they are surface-dried, you should allow your gourds to dry an additional three to four weeks. This time, when drying them, the gourds should be placed on newspaper in a warm, dry, dark area since it will encourage rapid drying.

Once the gourds are completely dry, you will need to decide whether you would like to preserve them in their natural state or decorate them.

If you decide to preserve them, you can either display them with no protective coating (will last only three to four months) or with protective coating (will last four to six months).

Some of the protective coatings you can use include paste wax, clear shellac, flat or enamel plant.

The wax will allow the gourd to have a soft, shiny surface with highlights while the clear shellac will give it a hard, glossy finish.

If you would choose to decorate your gourd, you should first thoroughly clean and polish the outer surface of the gourd. You can do so by scrubbing with steel wool or with very fine grade sandpaper.

The scrubbing will remove the thin outer skin without leaving any marks or abrasions.

Please allow the gourd to dry again before you begin to decorate after cleaning.

Once the gourd is dry, you should cut the design by tracing on the polished surface.

You can use a sharp carving tool or burn into the surface with an electric carver or needle.

After you have cut into the gourd to create your design, you should clean the surface of the gourd with a very high grade of transparent furniture wax.

To maintain the beauty of your design, you should wax the surface of the gourd every few months. Hopefully, if you follow these steps, you will be able to create a unique decoration using gourds.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Oct. 20 -- Clay County 4-H Adult Leader meeting, 7 p.m.,

* Oct. 24-26 -- Owen County National Meat Judging Team trip to Kansas State University,

* Oct. 31 -- Clay County Junior Leader's Halloween Trick or Treat for cans, and

* Nov. 5 -- 4-H Congress.