Artist – Grace Swanson


Gourd Art

Booth D-15

Encinitas, CA

Phone (760) 805-0434

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My interest in gourds began as a small child, born and raised in Nigeria. The Nigerian people use gourds for everything from storing food to spoons to holding cosmetics. When I saw a class on gourd art offered by San Diego Botanic Garden I decided to give it a try. The feel and smell of the burning gourd just took me ‘home’. I was hooked.

I purchase my gourds from Welburn Gourd Farm just north of Fallbrook — uncleaned and uncut. First I soak and scrub off the farm dirt and mold. Then I look at each gourd carefully for any flaws or cracks. Each gourd has its own personality and that often dictates what design I will burn into the gourd and whether it will stay whole or become an opened vessel. Some gourds may take as little as two or three hours to complete. Others may take days or weeks.

The gourds are cut, dremeled, sanded, dyed, carved, painted, beaded and finished with an acrylic spray. The surface of a good quality gourd is almost like wood. The difference being that there is an outer “skin” that is smooth. Dyes and paint can be wiped off. Beneath this skin is a softer flesh that absorbs dye and paint very readily and can create very interesting effects.

Gourds are grown in many shapes and sizes ranging from tiny “jewelry” gourds to very large ones used as drums. Even though no two gourds are the exact shape and are never perfectly round or symmetrical, there are some basic shape including apple, bottle, canteen, pear, snake and so on.

Throughout history gourds have been utilitarian. They have been used as spoons, bowls, drums, and storage containers for water, wine, grain etc. Some of my gourds may serve a function as vessels and bowls. However, most of my designs are meant to be appreciated for their own sake. Gourds can easily slip into the area of craft — painted to look like snowmen, santas, and little animals — or made into lamps and bird houses. This, however, does not appeal to me. I prefer to see how elegant, simple and sophisticated the lowly gourd can become.

Gourds have taken over my life. My brushes, paints and canvas have been pushed to one side (I used to be a watercolor and acrylic artist) as I explore the wonderfully tactile, three-dimensional world of gourds My gourds are sold through the
Off Track Gallery, 937 South Coast Highway 101, Suite C-103 (behind Starbucks), downtown Encinitas, CA 92024.
All current gourds available for purchase may be viewed at Email for more information

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