Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gourd beginings II

I'm starting a new gourd project and thought I'd take you along on the journey.
This is a gourd I grew this summer. It's thin-shelled so it dried quickly.  I've not worked with this shape before. I've seen them done into purses and boxes,those are both ideas.This one  won't sit level because the bottom is uneven.Also, since I really haven't tried to cut a "lid" before, and I know it takes a precision cut, I'm going to start with this one and see where it goes.

I really want to keep the stem, and it's attached to the body well, so I've decided to do an off-center cut.
Still not sure what  I'll make with it. A purse is out ,since I want to keep the stem on and because  it's thin-shelled, it wouldn't be sturdy enough for a purse.

TA-DA! The cut is finished and the insides exposed. I'll pull these out and save them, I may re-plant the seeds, use the lining as a decoration, who knows.

I want the inside to be really clean, so after I pull out the seeds and whatever you call the other stuff (sorry, I've not been able to find  the name for it) I'm going to soak it overnight .

This morning I cleaned and scraped the goo out. I have it drying now,and  it will probably take a couple of days to make sure the shell is good and dry before I dye it. 
I had an idea what I want to do with it. A box ,but not to sit level on a table, since it rocks if I try that. 
Here's my idea, but remember, I haven't said I could draw. 

This will be a box on a stand, I hope to find some branches to lace together for the stand, hinge on the lid, and embelish with boatanicals.  Just a thought, and my thought often change as projects progress. We'll see what happens with this one! I'm thinking a dream box, or a prayer box, HMMM...the wheels are spinnin'....

Stay tuned...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gourd beginings

In my last post I showed a picture of some gourds that had dried. I thought I would post some from the beginning...


These are dried and ready to clean; notice the different textures and mold showing on the shells.



 From this point, I will soak the gourds, usually on a nice sunny day in a tub in the yard.The sun keeps the water warm and speeds up the process.  They float, so I'll use old towels to wrap around them. Once the towels get wet they wick the water,(with a little dish soap and bleach added) and help keep the shell soaked to  soften the skin. After about 24 hours I start scrubbing. I've tried a lot of different ways to get them clean, but for me using a green scrubby pad and a plastic scrapper works best. Sometimes I use my thumbnail!
I feel the shell as I go to tell where there are places that still need work. While they are wet they are a beautiful deep tan color,  I've tired and can't get that color to save my life in the finished product. I'll keep trying, though.
There are a lot of different processes people use to clean their gourds, but for me this works the best. I can feel any bad places in the shell, study the shape and size, get ideas of what to do with the gourd, and most important, it slows me down to take time to appreciate the small blessings like how velvety smooth a wet gourd shell feels, the miracle that starts with a seed and ends up this hard shell, the seeds rattling inside the gourd waiting to blossom into new gourds, the blue sky, the warm sunshine, and the many other blessings God sends my way. 
I'll post on the continued process and how I end up with the finished product another day.

It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood.....

And it is. Beautiful sunshine, yesterday it got up to 48 degrees and it's already 46 this morning. Pretty good when it hasn't been much above freezing here for a month. this has been the worst winter, or should I say the closest thing to a real winter, we've had here in a long time.
I finished the gourd that was in one of my previous post, ("collecting") and plan to post it on Etsy later today. Heres' a sneak peek:
And I thought  for those of you who've never seen a "raw" gourd, these are some I took a picture of a couple of years ago. They've been dried but not cleaned.                  
I used to hate the cleaning process, I don't have much patience and it seem to take SO long.  I wanted to get to the creating part. Then I realized that the cleaning was part of the creating. After that it became a meditation time, a time when I could (try) to let my mind be still and listen to God. That's hard for me, being quiet. I believe God gave me this particular artform to show me that patience is a virtue.Sometimes it takes up to a year for them to dry, depending on the size.. I have to clean them, wait for them to dry again, color them, wait for that to dry, and each time I add an embellishment I have to wait for the glue to dry on that. And sometimes, I just can't get the look I want, so I sit the gourd on a shelf and wait for something to come to me about what it needs. Patiently.
Yes, God, I get the message, and I'm really trying. I know you will be patient with me while I'm trying!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More great stuff from Etsy

More great stuff from Etsy. It never fails to amaze me the wonderful things people make.




Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Family illness

Three of my four grandparents died from cancer, (the fourth from diabetes) My Dad died of cancer in 1991 and Mom is having her second round of it now. She is such an amazing person. She had breast cancer in 2004, 6 months after a clean mammogram she found a lump.Let this be a lesson to the doctors who say no self-exam necessary! She had some radiation and a lumpectomy and did wonderfully. When she was diagnosed she told me "don't worry about me, I talked to God and he said I'll be fine". And she was.

Two years ago she was diagnosed with cirrhosis, (never drank a drop, caused by diabetic fatty liver)and liver cancer. Up to a point she responded to treatment very well, the liver tumors disappeared, now she has problems with lymph nodes that they are trying to decided how to treat. She refuses IV chemo, she's seen too many people go through it and not improve. As a matter of fact when she saw the quality of life my Dad had for the last two years of his life she told us then, no chemo for her. 

Her take on all this? "God knows what He's doing, I'm 72 years old and have lived a good life, He'll tell me what he wants" She feels great, is still volunteering at a local soup kitchen almost daily.
And she has been calm, cool, and collected through all this. How can I be anything else?  If I think about it it tears me up, but I will try my best to respect her by following her lead.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pro life

For those of you who who read and commented on my Pro Life post I just wanted to thank you all. I deleted it, not because I didn't believe what I wrote, but because it had turned into what sounded to me like an emotional rant. I am working on another one, a little more cohesive and less rambling, and will re-post when it's done. This issue is too important to take lightly.
Thanks for your understanding.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


RE: my last post, the next morning a friend brought his big ol' 4-wheel-drive tractor with a bucket to move the snow and a chain to hook to the car and THANK GOD FOR COUNTRY BOYS!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Saga of the Snowdrift

So here I sit, my car stuck in  a drift in the driveway, my husband's truck, tractor, and 4-wheeler parked where they can't get by my car. The tractor and 4-wheeler aren't that big a deal, they are rarely used on the road anyway. But the truck, well, that's different.
The day was ok for the most part. I left at 11:30 to go to work, and it was rough getting there with the snow blowing and drifting. but I made it ok, slow and steady. And the day at work was fine,  I had enough to do to keep me busy and make the time pass but not overwhelming. And I figured when I got off at 5 the weather would have calmed down some and the roads would be cleared. Was I ever wrong.
I only live 9 miles from work, but sometimes that distance seems to be at  least tripled. Here in the mountains of Appalachia the difference in  elevation makes the weather change quite a bit from one spot to the other. My husband called me three times during my 5 hours at work, every time telling me to be careful coming home, the wind and snow were really bad. I was looking out the window at work thinking "come on, get a grip". But when I started home within 2 miles I was the one getting a grip. On the steering wheel. There were quite a few times I was saying "God I hope you're driving" because I literally could not see the road. It was one of the worst times I can remember trying to drive. I'm thankful I wasn't on an interstate highway, I had very little other traffic to contend with and just had to worry about myself.
I got home, and one of the things my husband had told me was to watch the drift in the driveway. It always drifts there, no big deal. I couldn't see where I was going, hit it hard, and unfortunately this time it was a lot deeper than usual. Buried the front of the car so deep I had to push the snow away with the door to get out of the car.
Long story short (too late for that), We spent an hour trying to dig it out, finally got it moved, and it slid into the bank of snow he had pushed out of the driveway and got stuck again. 30 minutes later we said forget it. He literally had ice freezing in his beard.
 So a couple of his friends are coming by in the morning to help him get it out. I think I'll have coffee and hot chocolate ready for them when they're done.I'm sure they won't need me.

Friday, February 5, 2010


I want it all!  Great stuff from Etsy. Members of  CASTteam, Christian Artist Street Team.




Tired.....from nothing?

I've had some really productive days over the last few weeks, having been stuck inside so much. But today wasn't  one of them. I work part-time, (first time since high school I haven't had a full time job-long story) and I was supposed to go in early this morning. I got a call at 6:30 am telling me not to worry about coming in. I was glad because it was NASTY outside, snow and ice and more coming down fast. So I thought YEA! I can get a lot done today.
Wrong. It's been one of those days where I just couldn't get into anything. My husband did take me to the post office so I could mail a package, and I feel better about that.
Before we left he moved my car, got it stuck, and when we came back we discovered he had left the key on and run the battery down. So we got soaked (of course it had changed to rain from snow) and finally got it started and moved.
Then he tried to push some of the snow with the tractor and didn't have much luck.
I tried to take a little nap but the dog wanted out,and woke me up before I got started, so I gave up on that.
I tried working on a gourd and popped off a piece of bark I had glued on yesterday.
I picked up another piece I was working on and discovered that what I had already done (which was quite a bit) was glued  to the frame backing upside down. Bummer. 
Now it's sleeting and freezing rain. As long as the electricity stays on, It'll be ok.
SO I think I need a reminder of summer......

This too shall pass. And every day is a gift from God, even the ones that remind us that every day isn't perfect.!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I seem to be obsessed with the weather lately, as are so many others. Over the last couple of days I took a few cool pictures. the one above was about 7:30 AM  Monday morning. This picture does not show the depth and beauty of the sky that morning. This was facing northwest, the sun was behind me. I took a chance of being late for work that morning because I could not for the life of me let this go without pictures. I guess I took about 19 from different angles, the colors were unbelievable. I'm always disappointed with the pictures because I can't  feel them the way I can when I'm looking at the scene.
This one I took this evening, about 5:30, on my way home from work. This hill is in front of my house. The sky was dark, with these pockets of sunshine here and there. It seemed that everywhere I saw a good shot I couldn't get off the road. I finally got this one on the road I live on, which has practically no traffic and I stopped dead the road. At least most of the people driving on this road are neighbors, who would be tolerant of their "somewhat odd" acquaintance parked in the middle of the road. We're all used to people doing this to see the deer, anyway.

I have had an affinity for nature, and trees in particular, for a long time, I guess all my life. A few days ago I was working on a gourd and decided it was going to have a tree theme, and It occurred to me that the reason I was so in tune with them was that they are reaching  towards heaven. If you've ever been in a forest, you can see how the trees all grow up, reaching higher, their branches thinner at the bottom than the top,reaching for the sun. If something gets in the way of a branch it will strive to go around or through it to continue it's reach upward. As we reach towards the Son, and the Father.
The next day, I read a blog post by Phyllis Ducey of pfdoriginal artworks on the Etsy CASTteam blog.
It brought me full circle, not only the reaching branches but the roots that anchor us and keep us steady and continually growing.