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Have you ever wondered how to dry gourds? Horticultural experts note that the harvest of a gourd for drying needs to be properly timed. The fruit must be fully mature. One can judge its maturity by the state of the stem: if the stem is shriveled and fading to brown, the fruit is ready for harvest.
To assure that you do no damage to the body of the fruit, leave at least two inches of the stem intact when snipping or cutting the fruit off the vine. During the washing process, treat the fruit gently. Bruises cause discoloration and invite premature decay.
How to Dry Gourds Grown this Spring
Bring your gourds to the sink. Bath them in warm soapy water; rinse them off in plain water. Spray them down with a disinfectant. Well-diluted bleach does as good a job as any of the commercial spray products. Pat your gourds dry with cloth towels.
How to Dry Out Gourds For Crafts
Once the gourds are clean and towel dried, the gourd preservation process has two more steps. For step one, find a dark, warm, dry space large enough to hold your collection. Darkness is crucial to maximizing color intensity.
Fan the gourds out on some newspaper so that none touch- circulating air will expedite drying and minimize the formation of mold. Once per day, give the gourds a spin and fresh newspaper if it appears damp. Any fruit that seems to be rotting should be weeded out and composted.
How long does it take to dry out gourds?
In six to ten days, your gourds will be dry. Gradually, their surfaces will harden and the natural colors will finalize.
Step two requires more patience. To begin this final drying phase, clean the fruit with disinfectant – again, diluted bleach is fine. Towel them dry thoroughly, but gently. Change your newspapers, and return the collection to their dark, warm, dry space. They will live there for at least a month.
Finishing a Gourd
After roughly a month of the second phase of the gourd drying process, your little beauties are ready for display as is, or to be finished in a variety of ways. Some people buff them out with paste wax; others prefer shellac, varnish, or polyurethane. The finish you choose will affect the color of the gourd, so choose your finish as you might during a woodworking project.
How to Decorate Dried Gourds
You need not be constrained to the colors, textures, and patterns provided by nature, however. Before applying a final finish, many folk art workers grind, sand, or carve gourds using any of the tools appropriate for small woodcarving projects.
Acrylic paints work beautifully on dried gourds. Go ahead – paint that roly-poly yellow one into a red and white folk art Santa! Given the enormous range of shapes for small gourds, and their receptivity to glue and paint, carving, and a matte or gloss coat, the folk art possibilities presented by gourds are limited only by your imagination. If you like decoupage, break out the Mod Podge and paper; beaders, feel free to use the gourd as a form and glue some on. High-quality colored pencils work beautifully, too.
What can you make with dried gourds?
Once the crafter becomes comfortable with tools and techniques for shaping and painting the gourd, it is time for some imagination. Libraries, craft stores, and numerous blogs contain some incredible creative ideas for gourd folk art, such as:
- bowls, vases, and cornucopia for dried flower bouquets
- fall décor, natural centerpiece, and table decoration ideas
- painting folk art figurines, such as penguins and swans
- organic wedding decorations
- drums, maracas, and rattles
- Purple Martin birdhouses and bird feeders
- dippers, ladles, scoops, and drinking gourds
- winter décor, folk art Santas and other folk art Christmas ornaments
Although in the US we commonly associate gourds with the harvest season, in the Andes, gourds have made amazing Christmas folk art ornaments for centuries. The intricately carved, lushly colored, handcrafted, organic folk art Christmas ornaments made from gourds by artists in Peru are becoming increasingly popular and imitated by crafters all over the world.
Shaped like eggs, rockets, apples or pears; whether warty, fluked, dimpled or hooked, properly dried and coated ornamental gourds add baskets of folk art fun to winter and fall décor.