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Gardening Articles: Care :: Plant Care Techniques

Gorgeous Gourds (page 4 of 4)

by National Gardening Association Editors

Surface Treatments for Creating Decorative Gourds

Transforming an ungainly gourd into a graceful ornament is easier than many gardeners imagine.

Each of the surface treatments described below requires little skill; only a few basic hand tools and some supplies, available from a craft or hardware store, are necessary. Before applying any surface treatment, be certain that the gourd is properly cured.

Make a leaf bowl by cutting a leaf design out of the gourd with a hand saw. Scrape out the pulp, and sand the soft interior to a smooth finish, then cover it with a decoupage of leaf designs cut from decorative tissue paper. Stain both the inside and outside surfaces before varnishing the whole bowl.

Apply delicate gold patterns to gourds with a pen that produces a fine, opaque line for maximum coverage and control. For added effect, glue gold-colored cord around the rim.

Create a burnished look to your gourd by first darkening it with black shoe dye, then covering it with gold shoe polish. As a final touch, add black leather trim and gold beads.

Make a simple pitcher by staining a gourd with white shoe polish, which highlights the natural patterns on the gourd's surface. Then glue nylon cord around the top rim and the bottom, leaving enough between the top and bottom to form a handle. The cord at the bottom acts as a base.

Make a pitcher from two gourds: a bottle and a dipper, trimmed with a crafting knife and handsawn to fit together. File and sand any rough edges, glue the parts together and fill in any remaining seam with putty. Create a coppery surface using an acrylic metallic paint rubbed with black shoe polish.

Use marking pens to decorate gourds. This allows for flexibility, freeform design, and many color choices. Unfortunately marking pens, even permanent kinds, will fade over time.

To learn about growing and using the many different kinds of ornamental gourds, consult Gourds in Your Garden: A Guidebook for Home Gardeners, by Ginger Summit (Hillway Press, 1998; $20); and The Complete Book of Gourd Craft, by Ginger Summit and Jim Widess (Lane Books, 1996; $27).

Photography by Sabin Gratz/National Gardening Association and Suzanne DeJohn/National Gardening Association

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