Gourd Art

Crafting with Gourds by Lora Irish

String House Gourd Art

String House Decoupaged Gourd Art

Free Doodle Pattern 030
Free Doodle Pattern 029
Free Doodle Pattern 028

Sometimes I love being concise, careful, and controlled in my art … and then sometimes I just want to get down dirty, messy, slimy, anything goes, and hands-on.  This String House is one of those ‘dirty up to the elbow’ fun projects from my newest book, Crafting with Gourds.

Any natural fiber material can easily be collage to the surface of your gourd using archival white water-based glue.  This fun bird house uses paper coffee filters, cotton cheese cloth, burlap, garden twine, and cotton cord to create a riot of texture.  When the collage work is dry we will use oil pastels to brightly color the high ridges of the texture.

Wash, clean, and cut a 10” high, 8” diameter, 23” circumference kettle gourd following the general preparation instructions.


gourd decoupage bird houseSupplies
10” high, 8” diameter, 23” circumference kettle gourd
#2 to #6 graphite pencil
wax-coated paper cups
archival white water-based glue
plastic mixing spoon
bowl of water for dipping
large #6 to #12 square brush
latex gloves
coffee filters
assorted string, cords, and twine

Acrylic craft paint
dark brown – bird house
black – mobile

set of 12 to 24 oil pastel sticks
spray sealer

gourd decoupage bird houseStep #1 Divide the gourd into three sections.

Divide the outside of your gourd house into three sections using a pencil to create the guidelines.  The top section will be worked with coffee filters, the second section with cheesecloth, and the bottom section with burlap.

Step #2 Mix your glue

In a wax-coated paper cup mix three tablespoons of archival white water-based glue.  Add one tablespoon of water, mix well.

Work the top section with coffee filters.
Work one coffee filter at a time.  Dip the filter into clean water, then wring out any the excess water.  You want the filter damp, but not dripping.

gourd decoupage bird houseStep #3 Gluing the coffee filters into place

Apply one coat of glue mix the top section.
With a large square brush, apply one coat of the glue mix to the top section of your gourd.  Place the filter onto the glue and press firmly with your brush.

Add more glue if needed. Apply more glue with your brush to the filter as necessary to secure the coffee filter into place.  Use the palm of your hand to press the thickest wrinkles into place.

Step #4 Add the cheesecloth

Work the middle section with cheese cloth.
Mix a second batch of archival white water-based glue if necessary.  Cut your cheesecloth into small 3” to 4” squares.  You can work several overlapping layers of cheesecloth at a time to increase the texture for this area.

Dip the cheesecloth squares in clean water, then blot well on paper towels.  Brush a coat of the glue mixture to the central area of the gourd.  Place several layers of cheesecloth onto the glued area and use your brush to press it into place.

gourd decoupage bird houseStep#5 Work the top half of the bottom section with burlap.

The bottom section of the gourd is covered with 3” squares of burlap.  Dampen and blot the burlap pieces on a paper towel.  Coat the bottom section of the gourd with your glue mix.  Lay one piece of burlap onto the gourd and apply a second coat of glue mix over the burlap.  Continue working along the pencil line for this section, overlapping each new burlap piece on the last piece applied.  Work just one ring of burlap pieces along the bottom.

Step#6 Leave an area of the gourd un-worked.

Visual contrast is important when you want to artistically emphasize texture.  The un-worked bottom area for this bird house gives your eye an area of smooth gourd surface to compare to the textures you have created.

gourd decoupage bird houseStep #7 Gather a variety of cotton and twin strings.

While you can use just one type of string, using a variety adds to the textured effect of this collage.Cut and tie a string at each intersection of the textures.

Lay a long piece of twine around your gourd.  Move the twin to an intersection between two of your textured areas.  Tie a square knot and cut the excess twine from the knot to about 1” long.  Brush a generous coat of the glue mix to the twine to hold it into place.  The twine wrapping does not have to fall exactly on the joint, let it fall where ever it may.

Let your strings go over the bird house hole as you add then.  Glue the string, including that area that is over the hole.  After the glue has dried overnight you can cut the small sections of the string that cover the hole without effecting the string at the hole sides.

gourd decoupage bird houseStep #8 Add one more, even coat of glue mix.

Let your gourd dry for about an hour, then apply one more glue and water mix to all of the textured areas.  Dry overnight.  Even though the glue is well dried it will have a slightly tacky feeling to the surface.  This will diminish with the spray sealer step at the end of the project.

Apply one to two coats of burnt umber brown or black acrylic paint to the entire surface of the decoupaged gourd.  This creates a dark background for the color that will lie on the high texture in the next step.



gourd decoupage bird houseStep #9 Playing with oil pastels.

Oil pastels are ground pigment that is compressed in an oil-based stick.  They are available in set that have a full color range.

Using one oil pastel stick at a time, rub your pastel over one of the textured areas.  The pastel will adhere to just the highest areas of your texture, leaving the deep areas in the dark brown paint.

Although not shown in this project you can blend oil pastels by laying one color over another lightly.  This lets a little of both colors show and creates the new blended color.

You can clean off any pastel color that has gotten into the next area by rubbing the area with your fingers.

gourd decoupage bird houseStep #10  Apply oil pastel to the strings.

Use contrasting colors for your strings by rubbing the oil stick along the top edge of the string.

Finish this bird house with two to three light coats of spray sealer.






Step #11 Making a wind chime
Shown in the top photo








Crafting with Gourds by Lora S IrishCrafting With Gourds, by Lora S. Irish
Available at Amazon.com


gourd art musical instruments

Creating Gourd Art Musical Instruments – Banjo

gourd art banjo

What happens when …

…you unite the joy of gourd art crafting, the joy of bright and vibrant colors, and the joy of music?  You create this joyous gourd banjo with copper wire strings.

An extra large kettle gourd with some damage around the stem area inspired this fun gourd musical instrument project.  While I did not take step-by-step photos … I was too involved in the fun of creation to remember … I will share four easy ‘secrets’ that made the construction quick and accurate.

Supply List:

The general supply list is posted on the image below.  Please click on this image and save it to your desktop.

Arteza Bone Folders (Set of 4)
Bare Copper Wire, Bright, 14 AWG, 0.064″ Diameter, 80′ Length
Bare Copper Wire, Bright, 18 AWG, 0.04″ Diameter, 195′ Length
Bare Copper Wire, Bright, 20 AWG, 0.032″ Diameter, 315′ Length
Jameco Valuepro 24BC 24 AWG Solid Bare Copper Bus Bar Wire 205′
Heavy Duty Muslin Clamps 4 1/2 inch 6 Pack
Liquitex Professional Flexible Modeling Paste Medium, 16-oz


gourd art banjo1. How to cut any gourd along a perfectly level, accurate circumference line.

Clean and prepare the outer surface of your gourd as you normally would.  Wipe any sanding dust from the outer surface with a damp cloth, then allow the gourd to dry completely.

Visually estimate where you want the cut line along the circumference.  Make a mental note as to which area of the gourd you will be using (the down side) and which area you will be removing (the up side).

Fill your kitchen sink 2/3’s full of water.  Hold your gourd throughout this step as level to your visual cut line as possible.  Place the down side – the side of the gourd that will become your project – into the water.  Push it down until the bottom is covered with water and the surface of the water is at your visual cut line.

Lift the gourd up from the water carefully.  Your gourd will have a perfectly level, perfectly straight, perfectly even wet line around the circumference of your gourd.  With a soft #2 to #4 pencil mark the edge of the wet line.  You are ready to  cut.

This is a great technique when you have an odd shaped gourd that has an un-level top.  Plunge your gourd into the sink water until the bottom sits firmly against the bottom of the sink.  The water line will now be an even measurement from the bottom of the gourd, making a perfectly level cut line.

gourd art banjo2.  How to sand any gourd top cut evenly and level.

While you are at the hardware store buying birch plywood for the face of your banjo, purchase three or four extra pieces.  You will also need two sheets each of 100-, 150-, and 220-grit sandpaper, spray adhesive, and 1″ wide masking tape.

Work in a well ventilated area. Lay a strip of masking tape along one edge of the plywood.  Your plywood is 12″ wide, while your sandpaper is only 11″.  The tape protects the extra plywood from the spray adhesive.

Spray an even coating of adhesive over the 12″ x 12″ sheet of plywood.  Lay one sheet of 100-grit sandpaper onto the board, aligning along the top edge – opposite of the tape.  Lay a second sheet of 100-grit sandpaper against the first, so that the entire board is covered with sandpaper.  Press firmly into place.  Remove the masking tape.  Let the adhesive dry well.

Cut off  the extra 4″ strip of extra sandpaper that extends off the board.

Repeat these steps for your 150- and 220-grit sandpapers.

Clamp the board to a firm surface, your work table.  You can lay your cut edge of the gourd onto the board and move the gourd in circular motions to evenly, and quickly sand the edge perfectly flat.  Work the gourd through the three stages of sandpaper grit, starting with the 100-, then the 150-, and finishing up with the 220-grit.

3. How to fill the joint line between the gourd’s cut edge and the plywood face.

Even with the most careful cutting and sanding you can have small gaps in the joint between the plywood face and the gourd walls.  Fill the gaps with Modeling Paste, also called Sculpture Paste.  This is a water-soluble, acrylic-based, medium thick paste that dries quickly and can be sanded smooth.

Follow the directions on your jar.  I prefer to lightly dampen the area that I will be filling.  I let the area dry until there are no shiny, wet spots then fill the area with a light layer of modeling paste.  Let this layer dry completely and lightly sand.  If the area is not completely filled I repeat the application.  Thin layers are easier for me to control, shape, and sand.  Plus thin layers dry more evenly than thick applications.

Modeling paste – sculpture paste – can be painted using your craft acrylic colors.  It’s perfect for those gourds that have rough or pitted areas on the surface!

A quick trick to insure that your jar of modeling paste lasts a long time is to thoroughly clean the jar rim and the inside of the lid after every use.  Cut a square of plastic clinge wrap about 2″ larger than the jar opening.  Place the plastic clinge wrap onto the jar’s opening, then put on the lid.  The wrap seals along the jar’s rim, preventing your paste from drying out.

Lora S. Irish patterns4. Save yourself time, worry, and fuse by using ArtDesignsStudio.com patterns!

Like many crafters you have only so much limited time to create and craft.  Do you want to spend that time actually working on your project or on researching, designing, and refining the pattern you will use?

We have over 3000 line art and craft patterns, ready to download directly to your home computer, in a huge variety of themes, ideas, and designs – Wildlife, Celtic, Wood Spirits, Architectural Accents, Landscapes, and so much more.

I use CP139 Henna Tattoos 1 and CP140 Henna Tattoos 2 from our Special and Miscellaneous Patterns Category for my Gourd Art Banjo.

Dried Art Gourd Bee Houses

Craft Art Gourd Bee Houses

Bee, Bug, and Seed Gourd House Roof Decorations

Begin this free, online dried craft gourd art project with our Basic Constructions step-by-step page.  Then enjoy how to create your roof accents on our Bee House Roof Accents page, and the Bee House Gallery page.

Free Craft Gourd Art Bird House Project

This project began as an experiment and practice piece in creating a large, roofed bird house gourd.  I wanted to work out how to add a wooden roof before I began the cutting steps on my large kettle gourd.  As I worked I became more and more delighted with the nest egg and small bottle gourd houses that I used as my practice pieces.  Adding a few dried, natural accents was logical next step to change them from just experiments into Bee, Bug, and Seed Houses that I could use for my fall decorations and in my autumn flower gardens.

Free Craft Gourd Art Bird House Project

Have fun creating your own gourd art, miniature bird houses for your garden, autumn wreaths, and Christmas presents.

Please share this link of FaceBook, Pinterest, and Reddit !!!!

Bee Houses

Basic Construction of a Bee, Bug, or Seed Gourd House

Free Bee and Bug Gourd House ProjectAs summer slips into those first cool days of autumn, it is time for me to prepare my flower gardens for the winter months ahead.  The gourd bird houses that I made last spring need to be cleaned and checked for needed repairs, the fallen leaves needed to be raked and moved to the compose pile, and its time to harvest the flower seeds for next year’s plantings.

This year I am adding a new little project to my autumn list – Bee Houses!  My region has lost most of its honey bee and other insect populations because of the intensive use of pesticides and herbicides.  More and more I depend on our native wild bee population to pollinate my gardens.   There are several excellent articles on the net for creating wild bee homes, that offer other, fun ideas that you can do along with this Nest Egg Gourd Bee House project.

The original idea behind this project was to make a few simple, quick bee and bug houses that I could place throughout my garden as winter nests – miniature bird houses.  I wanted them to be as biodegradable, eco-friendly as possible, so I chose to use some of my thinner shelled, small craft gourds and dried plant materials from my yard for accents.


If you enjoy our free, online projects and tutorials, please share this project with your friends and family on FaceBook, Pinterest, and Reddit!

Gourd Bee Houses

DIY Bee and Bug Houses

One of my many autumn projects for the blog is a series of roosting houses for our winter birds made from dried craft gourds and decorated with pyrography and colored pencils.  Along the way to the creating these kettle gourd houses I wanted to first play around with ideas on making different roof styles.  Most DIY birdhouses use the stem area of the gourd for both hanging and as the roof area, but I wanted something different.

DIY craft gourd bird houses

So I picked up some smaller dried craft gourds off of Ebay.com – nest egg gourds, small bottle gourds, and some dipper gourds.  Next I got out my bench knife, my boxes of craft supplies, my dried flowers and grass, and began experimenting.

I never meant to use these practice pieces here on my blog, but they were so fun to create and have so many possibilities that I just had to share them with you.  One of the little delights, shown below, is made with a nest egg gourd, approx. 2 1/2″ high by 1 3/4″ wide, with a corn husk roof, grapevine twist and barberry seed accents.

DIY Egg Gourd Christmas Decorations

I was only going to make one or two to figure how the easiest method of adding a roof to a gourd.  I ended us with over a dozen in just a couple of day’s play.  As I experimented with several different roof material ideas I also came up with a multitude of uses for these small gourd houses.

DIY Mini Nest Egg Gourd Bird Houses

Some of these miniature gourd birdhouses will become Christmas ornaments, some are made to go out into my garden as bee and bug houses, one became a little garden scene shelf decoration.  But my favorite so far is my larger, 4″ x 5″, seed house that will be my sister’s Christmas present.  Inside of this gourd, before I added the roof, I added 3 Red Oak trees, 5 Tulip Poplar trees, 6 White Dogwood trees, 6 Chinese False Dogwood trees, 6 Golden Chain trees, a huge bunch of marigolds, and 12 nest egg gourds – all viable seeds from my Maryland garden to her new Colorado home!  (Shhh! – Please don’t tell her!!!  It’s a surprise!!!)

DIY Gourd Birdhouse Project

So join me this week as I share the steps with you for making your own DIY Bee-Bug-Seed Houses for your Christmas tree and autumn gardens.  Then at the beginning of October we will start the pyrography roosting gourd houses with a free Lora S. Irish pattern.

Let your friends on FaceBook, Twitter, and Pintrest know so they can share the fun.

Lora ~

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