When did you start creating art?
My artistic career started in music, with voice coaching and singing at many public engagements early on.
Over the years, I developed a keen interest in the art of engraving. I travelled out of Canada to learn techniques that could only be learnt through a master engraver. After a couple of years of intense study and practice, my work was discovered by a fashion retailer who hired me to engrave on fragrance bottles. As my reputation grew, many high end fashion design and fragrance houses contacted me to work for them.
What led you to create art on gourds?
I was teaching pyrography (wood burning) classes and came upon a picture of a gourd in a book. It absolutely fascinated me. Gourds are not typically known or grown in Canada. When I eventually acquired a few gourds, I experimented with them - applying wood burning designs, cutting, carving and embellishing them. As my fascination grew, I studied the history of gourds as functional art in ancient cultures. This ignited a storm of creativity, which led me to seek out ways of celebrating this rich history through contemporary ideas and working methods.
What are gourds?
Gourds are plants - Lagenaria Siceraria. They are distant cousins to the squash and pumpkin family, but are hard shelled. When dried, they become hard like wood, but much lighter in weight.
Where do gourds come from and what is their purpose?
Gourds are one of the most important plants in all of human history, and have been around since the beginning of time. They typically grow wild in tropical and semi tropical climates, and have been found next to mastodon bones, before humans arrived. Nomadic people used these plants for food, and when dried, they were used for many things, including food storage, clothing, musical instruments and ritual masks. They are one of the oldest cultivated plants and most definitely contributed to ancient man's early development. Embellished gourds were given to honoured leaders and chiefs of nomadic tribes to indicate their importance and high status. Because of their hardness when dry, they can last for centuries, as gourds discovered in ancient caves and pyramids attest.
How are gourds grown?
Ideally, they are grown in areas where they can spread out over a long hot summer, so they can develop thick shells that allow for carving. They are typically harvested one year after first developing, drying from the outside inward, which creates a mold on their surface that must be cleaned before use. When choosing to create an open design, the seeds are removed and the interior cleaned. Various seed types, pollinated by hand, germinate into different shapes. They are truly natures pottery.
Are these gourds available for purchase?
Yes, for information you can reach me through my contact page by clicking the envelope below.