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Gourd Sculpting DVD

2 projects Fat Cats and frogs

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My Vessel by Melynda Lotven

Free downloaded pdf



Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

  1. What is a gourd?

  2. When do I pick and how do you dry gourds?

  3. How do you clean gourds?

  4. What paints can you use on gourds?

  5. How do you cut the gourds?

  6. Where can I get gourd information?

  7. Where can I buy gourd seed and gourds?

  8. Where can I buy gourds in Missouri and online?

  9. Can you tell me what size my hole and gourd has to be to attract certain birds?

  10. What is the difference between a male and female gourd flower?

  11. How do I process my luffa?

  12. What are the names and pictures of gourd shapes?

  13. How do I grow gourds?

  14. Where can I buy gourd tools?

  15. Information on artificial Pollinating

  16. Where can I find Gourd Societies in my area?

What is a Gourd?

Any plant or fruit of the Cucurbitacex, including melons, squashes, pumpkins, etc., especially the fruit of the plant Lagenaria vulgaris, the bottle gourd, of many varieties. The rind is tough, and when dried throughout history has been used as drinking vessels, storage jars, decorative items for the body and home. A well-prepared gourd can last indefinitely.

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When do I pick and how do you dry gourds?

Pick your gourds when the stems are brown and the vies are dying. Frost will not hurt a good mature gourd so let them stay on the vine as long as they are getting nutrition from the vine. You want a good thick shell and hard gourd so do not pick too soon.

Gourds can take 6-12 months to a year to dry completely. The ideal space to dry a gourd would be in a dry place where NO mice can get to them. (mice eat little holes and make nests in the gourd and the hole may not necessarily be where you want it) Some farmers leave their gourds in the field until the next season and then collect them and they dry just fine. If a gourd is good it will dry anyway. Here in Missouri we have a lot of humidity and gourds mold as they are drying, this does not mean they are ruined. Leave them be and if they have not collapsed and cracked they will be fine. Some people periodically wipe the mold off, and others like the patterns the mold makes. Some people do what is called green cleaning where the outer layer is scraped off with a knife. This can make the gourd dry faster and make the shell blemish free. Green cleaning is not full proof, gourds can collapse if they are not mature when green cleaned. Be sure your gourd is mature. A mature gourd was picked when the stem was brown and vine dead. A gourd that has already started to dry has a better chance of making it in the green cleaning process. Just Remember....a gourd will take its own time curing, drying...they are all different, no 2 are alike that is why they are so special. 

Click here to see pictures of gourds drying and curing.

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Hatfield's Farm located in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks.
........advise on drying and cleaning gourds check out their website at

"Regarding the drying of gourds, we have been growing gourds since 1987.  We were told in 1987 to bring the gourds inside a building after frost, and as we soon learned that was a big mistake.  After fully drying the skin is still firmly attached and only a sharp knife will scrape it off.  Then we learned the benefits of leaving them out in the sun all winter to dry (provided they are not covered with snow, which means it will take longer to dry).  The UV rays from the sun cause the skin to break down, so with a little soaking and a metal pot scrubber they can be easily cleaned.  We suggest to customers that they wrap them is a wet towel or cloth and place them in a shower or bathtub with a slow trickle of water to keep the cloth wet for 30 min to an hour.  This simulates your point about soaking outside in the rain.  We have a covered 7ft round water tank with a circular agitator and 4" of water to keep the gourds moving underneath 3 nozzles from a 1500# high pressure washer.  After 30 minutes in the tank there is very little to scrub off (providing they have had enough exposure to the sunshine).
See some pictures on their website of the gourds drying in the rows on part of the 30 acres of gourds which were still in the field in December, some have already been hauled in because of the warmer than normal winter.  We lay them on their sides in the field, stems to the west, which allows for better air movement and quicker drying. "

How do you clean Gourds?

My favorite way to clean gourds is during a rainy day where I place a bunch of gourds outside during a consistent rain and after they have soaked for about 15 minutes I bring them in one at a time and scrub with a Chore boy pad in my sink. The soaking of the water is the key, usually the outer layer will come right off, sometimes I have to use a knife to scrape some tough spots but I get lots of gourds clean on a rainy day. If you need a clean gourd and have no rain in the forecast, fill a tub or sink up and place your gourds in with a wet towel on top to keep the whole gourd wet. Then get to scrubbing! 

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What paints can be used on gourds?

If you can use it on wood you can use it on gourds! Acrylics are my choice, but oils, stains, inks and I have even tried shoe polish on gourds. Leather Dye with a good glossy sealer creates a nice pottery look. You can also cut, sand, carve, drill and wood burn as well as weave on. Experiment and have fun.

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How do I cut gourds?

When I first got started in gourds and had no tools,I used anything I could like exacto-knives and hack saw blades, I received a dremel tool a few years back and use that quite frequently. My favorite way to cut gourds is my hand jig saw from Micro Mart, get a free catalog from them by calling their 800 number, 1-800-225-1066, or check out their website at www.micromark.com 
This is the mini jigsaw I use  http://www.dxmarket.com/micromark/products/15226.html
The transformer you will need is http://www.dxmarket.com/micromark/products/15232.html

Another place to check out mini hand jigsaws is Minicraft tools. The Minicraft Jigsaw Kit (MB5481) is a great tool for cutting gourds. The MB150 or MB170 Rotary Tools are perfect for sanding, carving, drilling and cutting.

Be safe and wear goggles and a mask when cutting gourds. Gourd dust may not bother you in the beginning but it has a cumulative effect. I have experienced consecutive sinus infections due to not being smart about cutting and cleaning gourds. Click here to picture of proper  mask and goggles.

Check here to see pictures of cleaning the gourd pulp out using the water soaking method. This method reduces your exposure to gourd dust. 

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Where can I get gourd information?

The American Gourd Society has a newsletter that is printed 4 times a year as well as many states having chapters of the gourd society.  Click here to go to a list of gourd societies in your area of the country. 

A great book for gourd crafting is The Complete Book of Gourd Craft.$30.95 ppd. Jim Widess, The Caning Shop, Dept. GRD, 926 Gilman St., Berkeley CA 94710-1494. 1-800-544-3373 or on the web at The Caning shop. There is a lot of information out there, check my links page. 

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Where can I buy seed and gourds?

Quarry Farm Gourds 12091 Eagleville Road North Baltimore, OH 45872 phone 419-257-2597 website www.quarryfarmgourds.com

Harry Hurley....

Gourd Central

The American Gourd Society  lists classifieds in it on where to buy gourds and other seed companies as well as gourd crafting tools. gourd societies

Where can I buy gourds in Missouri?

Show Me Gourd Society Members who sell gourds

Fred and MaryJo Wilson 7698 Arrowrock Rd. Blackwater, MO 65322 (660)-846-4432 click here to see a trip to the Wisons

Gene Walther 11500 Lightbird Boonville, MO 65233 (816)-882-7230 Walther@socket.net

Dennis Hatfield 30226 Holly Road Pierce City, MO 65723 (417)-476-5454 http://www.ozarkcountrycreations.com/

Sara Herndon 24773 Highway 60 Marionville, MO 65705 (417)-258-2501

Roger Toomey, Good Life gardens 39001 E 323 Street, Creighton, MO 64739 (816) 862-8561, e-mail goodlifegarden@juno.com

Blessings Farms 475 Chapel Church RD. Red Lion, PA 17356 (717) 244-2615

Gary and Virginia Clark, www.foothillsfarm.com email at virginia@foothillsfarm.com

John Stephens 321 Cedar Lane Wentzville, MO 63385 314-398-4248

Sapps Pumpkin Patch, Hartsburg, Missouri  Check out pictures from his enchanted garden

Brenda Churchill Rt. 4 Box 155 Moberly, MO 65270  660-291-4487


Where can I buy gourds online?

  www.amishgourds.com .

Buy a variety of gourds online at  The SandLady

Also check out gourds auctioned on www.ebay.com

Hatfield's gourd farm heart of the Missouri Ozarks. http://www.ozarkcountrycreations.com/ 





Darrell and Ellen Dalton, Owners
610 CR 336,Piggott, Arkansas  72454
Phone (870) 598-3568
e-mail ddalton@pumpkinhollow.com



Can you tell me what size my hole and gourd has to be to attract certain birds?

The following is a list of birds, diameter of gourd and hole needed to attract that particular bird.

Name of bird
Purple Martin
Downey Woodpecker
Small Owl
Tufted Titmouse
White Breasted Nuthatch
Blue Birds see below

Diameter of gourd

Hole size
1 1/8"
2 1/2"
2" or 2 1/2" 
1 5/8"
1 1/2"
1 1/4"
1 1/4"


Eastern Bluebirds use 1 1/2 inch round holes, 1 3/8 x 2 1/4 inch vertical oval holes, or 1 1/8 inch horizontal slot entrances
Western and Mountain Bluebirds use 1 9/16 inch round openings
Where the ranges of the species overlap use 1 9/16 inch round openings
Oval holes should only be used in eastern bluebird boxes with moderate to small dimensioned gourds to reduce the possibility of starling use

Gourd  Sizes:


Eastern Bluebirds: floors of gourd should be approximately 4 inches  in diameter
Western or Mountain Bluebird boxes should be at least 5 x 5 inches or 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches to accommodate larger clutch sizes

What is the difference between a male and female gourd flower?

A female flower has a baby gourd at the base of it a male does not. Click here Gourd plant gone crazy,  to see pictures of an ornamental gourd plant growing in my front yard this year. This page will show you upclose pictures of the flowers, pollinating helpers as well as the gourds it is creating. 

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How do I process my luffa?

Click here to see how I took a dry luffa and processed it for future use.

What are the names and pictures of gourd shapes?

Common ornamental gourds Cucurbita pepo var ovifera
click here for chart

Common types of Hardshell Gourds
Lagenaria siceraria cultivars
click here for chart


How do I grow gourds?

Check out the following links for good gourd growing information.



 This link is good to identify and deal with insects and fungus' that  attack your gourds. http://www.abirdshome.com/pm/gordpest.htm

Where do I buy tools?

These are great sources for Gourd tools, books and supplies.



Sears hand jigsaw   


Another place to check out mini hand jigsaws is Minicraft tools. The Minicraft Jigsaw Kit (MB5481) is a great tool for cutting gourds. The MB150 or MB170 Rotary Tools are perfect for sanding, carving, drilling and cutting.

Jigsaws - I have been asked about mini jigsaws a lot lately and thought I would include the links for you in this newsletter to save. Personally I use the Micromark mini hand jigsaw item number 82088
 but know of another one you may wish to check out from Minicraft Tools  

Cordless Glue Gun by ColdHeat

15. Artificial Pollinating  

check out this article on pollinating your gourds by hand

16. Where can I find gourd societies in my area?

Click here for a list of gourd societies  around the world


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email me at justgourds@justgourds.com

Copyright 1999 Melynda Lotven. All rights reserved.
Revised: January 30, 2007.

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