Gourd Art Banjo

Gourd Art 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.

Greenman Pyrography Leather Bullet Journal Project

Greenman Pyrography Leather Bullet Journal Project

The newest project on my table is a step-by-step pyrography leather Greenman, inspired by the fun hobby of bullet journaling.

Please share this project with your FaceBook friends!

Pyrography Greenman Leather Bullet Journal CoverOur Greenman Leather Pyrography Bullet Journal Cover is worked on 7 to 8 ounce vegetable dyed leather and laced using waxed linen thread and two bamboo skewers.  The completed journal opens at the bottom, with the lacing for the bullet journal pages on the back of the journal.  You can open the cover and completely roll the cover to the back to have easy, full access to your pages.

28 large-sized, step-by-step photos spread over 7 pages, with complete instructions, a free Greenman pattern, and printable bullet journal pages.


pyrography burned leather purseThis project is a great compliment to me recent Greenman Leather Slop Bag Project.  Check it out as the free pattern for this project would create a wonderful design when you are ready to burn your second bullet journal cover.



Colored Pencil Portraits, Adult ColoringFor more ideas to use with this Bullet Journal Cover project you may wish to check out ArtDesignsStudio.com’s newest E-Project, Colored Pencil Portraits.

146 pages of instructions, patterns, and ideas including 6 in-depth step-by-step portrait projects and 62 patterns for wood spirits, greenmen, shamans, wizards, vampires, dragons, and assorted designs.

On SALE through June 4th, only $9.50
regular price $14.95

Check out our other E-Book on sale in the right-hand nav bar.


Colored Pencil Portraits Pattern PackageOr try our Adult Coloring, Pyrography, Carving Patterns Pack which has just the patterns and designs, ready for your next project.

62 line art patterns and designs featuring Wood Spirits, Greenmen, Shamans, Wizards, Pixies, and even Vampires.  Also included is an assortment of fun designs featuring Henna Flowers, Dragons, Winged LIzards, and more. As an added bonus this package includes 12 fully colored or pencil shaded designs to guide you in your craft work.

Ready for you to download to your computer and print from your home printer, available at ArtDesignsStudio.com, Lora S. Irish’s pattern store.

Lora Irish Free Projects

Lora Irish Free Projects

Our pattern site, ArtDesignsStudio.com,
has a 3for15 sale this week.

Any 3 pattern packs for only $5 each.
And … you can use the coupon code every day
through Sun., Jan 29th, 2017.
Add the coupon code  3for15
to your shopping cart at check out.

Since Mike and I came to the web in 1997 I have posted a free, online, step-by-step seminar each year. Many of those seminars are posted right here on our blog at LSIrish.com, and some were posted to other wood carving, wood burning community forums.  I thought you would enjoy a list with links to some of our favorite past projects.


This year’s free, online seminar links:

Cross Crafting Wood Carving. Pyrography, and Scroll Saw Free ProjectCross-Crafting Seminar Introduction
Cross-Crafting Seminar Supply List
Cross-Crafting Seminar Free Patterns
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Saw Basics
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Setting Up Your Scroll Saw
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Sawing the Wood Spirit Face

Cross-Crafting Seminar, Wood Burning the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Colored Pencils for the Wood Spirit Face


Posted here at LSIrish.com

irish_tiki_0002Whittle Tiki Chess Set – Wood Carving
This beginner’s wood carving project will guide you through the cutting strokes that create those wonderfully expressive Tiki faces. Includes the free patterns to make your own chess set.

Basics to Painting – Painting your Wood Carving and Wood Burning
Have fun exploring the numerous techniques you can use to add coloring to your wood burnings, wood carvings, and scroll saw projects.

Postage Stamp Pyrography – Pyrography and wood burning
Have a little fun tonight working through how easy it is to wood burning Celtic interlocking lines and knots.

Canada GooseRelief Canada Goose Carving Seminar – Relief wood carving, pyrography, and painting
Explore the basic techniques used in relief wood carving, including working in layers and levels, undercutting, and smoothing the background. Then add fine detailing using your wood burning tool. Finish this step-by-step project by creating realistic coloring using the dry brushing technique.

Whittle Fish Seminar – Wood carving
Ice fishing decoys are quick, easy, and extremely fun to carve. All you need is a bench knife, a few pieces of basswood, some scrap leather or copper sheeting, and some imagination. Since these are primitive art, anything goes when carving fish decoys.

LSIrish_chip0009Chip Carving Seminar – Chip Carving, wood carving
Chip carving is a specialty area in wood carving. With the use of a short-bladed chip carving knife, small triangular cuts create intrigue motifs and designs. Includes a full-sized sampler pattern.

Celtic Dragon Plaque – Relief wood carving
This is an entry-level carving project for both relief carving and for working the interlocking patterns of the Celtic Knot

Wood Spirit Carving – Wood carving, cane and walking stick carving
Carving a human face into your next walking stick or cane is quite easy when you follow the step-by-step cuts shown in Carving the Planes of the Human Face.

Free Lora IRish Cane Carving ProjectTwistie Snake Carving – Wood carving, cane and walking stick carving
Not all of us are blessed to have a backyard wood lot where we can cultivate sassafras trees and honeysuckle vines for twistie stick canes. So in this in-depth tutorial learn how to carve that twisted stick pattern using a bench knife, a few small gouges, and basswood.

Pyrography Doodles – Pyrography and wood burning
If you have the burning desire to try your hand at the zen doodle craze or modern tribal tattoo look, you will want to read through this step-by-step wood burning project that uses textures, line designs, and fill patterns to create the finished mushroom design.


Irish_pixie_13Pyrography Steps to Portrait Burning – Wood burning and pyrography
Learn how to create realistic shadows and highlights in the human face in your next wood burning project.

Cougar Pyrography Project – Wood burning and pyrography
Learn how to create the fine fur in an animal portrait that incorporates realistic shading and shape to the animal’s face.



Pyrography Mask Project by IrishCeremonial Mask Pyrography – Pyrography and wood burning
This step-by-step project uses lots and lots of photos to guide you through an in-depth design created for first-time wood burners.

Pyrography Leather Burning – Leather burning and leather pyrography
Want to try your hand at leather burning? Then this tutorial is just what you are looking for. Includes not only the step-by-step photo instructions but also includes the binding steps for making your own leather artist journal.

wood carving a wooden spoonCross-Crafting Seminar Introduction – Step by Step Instructions for your first wooden spoon carving from scroll saw cutting to adding the oil finish



Leather Burned Jewelry, Project One – Discover how much fun wppd burning leather scraps into wire-wrapped jewelry can be.



Posted on Other Message Boards or Forums

Please note that the following free L S Irish seminars and in-depth projects were posted by me, and hosted on other forums  – Wood Carving Illustrated Message Board, WoodWorkingChat.com, Woodcarvers Gazette, FamilyWoodworking.org Forum, WOM – Woodcarver Online Magazine.

Please note that you will need to sign-up as a member of these forums to have access to the photos included in each of the tutorials.

If you have questions about these projects please contact me directly, here at LSIrish.com or on my Facebook account, as I can not reply to you on this forum. If you do reply of any of these free tutorial, it will bring these threads to the front of the message board where other members may answer you.

freen man relief carving by Lora IrishRelief Carving Wood Spirit Grape Man WIP – Over 250 detailed, close-up photos with step-by-step instructions of relief carving the wood spirit, green man face. This thread has had over 69,000 views!

Levels in Relief – Learn how to break you carving pattern into levels for easy carving. This project will teach you how to identify the sky, background, mid-ground, and foreground of any design.

Burning your carvings – Pyrography can be an important technique for your wood carving. So learn how to use your wood burner to clean-up fine wood fibers, add detailing, and even add fine shaping to your next wood carving project.

African Mask Low Relief Carving – The African Mask project focuses on how to establish the levels of a relief wood carving during the rough-out stage of work.

Irish Pyrography Seminar – This in-depth pyrography project shows over 250 detailed, close-up photos, step-by-step instructions, and in-depth explanations of texturing, shadings, and fine line work used to create the Advertising Barn landscape.

Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool – Looking for that first wood burning tool, then take a few moments and read through this tutorial for an in-depth review of the Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool used to wood burn a Toucan Family.

Winter Birdhouse Wood Burning Tutorial – This in-depth, step-by-step project focuses on a winter bird house wood burning scene. The project takes you from the initial tracing of the design to the final coloring steps.

Leather Burned Jewelry

Leather Burned Jewelry

Art of Leather Burned Jewelry

gingerbread cookiePlease share on FaceBook and Pinterest !!!!


I love combining my crafts and hobbies, and in this project we will be working on a quick, fun design that uses leather working, jewelry making, and, of course, pyrography.  Today we will get together the supplies, cut out our leather necklace shape, and do the pyrography steps.

In the next post you will find the steps for creating the copper, wire-bent jewelry.  Then on day three of this mini-project I will show you how to create 10 quick necklaces out of one pyrography burning that is perfect if you are a craft seller or need a group of Holiday presents this years.

So … let’s get started!

leather burning and pyrography by Lora IrishQuilted Jade Necklace Supplies:
5 1/2” x 3 1/2” (14 cm x 9 cm ) medium weight vegetable-tanned leather
bench knife or craft knife
leather hole punch
cotton swab applicators
gum tragacanth edge finish
wooden edge slicker
#4 – #8 soft pencil for tracing
pyrography pen tips – ball, loop, or micro writing tip
white artist eraser
2 – 16 mm square yellow jade beads
1 – 5 mm x 8 mm yellow jade rectangle bead
6 – 3 mm antique copper round beads
2 – 4 mm copper rosettes
2 – 7” ( 18 cm ) long copper chain
2 – 6 mm split rings
1 – lobster claw latch
18” – 20-gauge or 18-gauge copper wire
satin brush-on leather finish

tracing the pattern

1 Make a printed copy of the pattern for the Quilted Jade Necklace. Cut the pattern out using scissors.
Lay the paper pattern on the raw-hide side of the leather scrap. Using a soft, #4 – #8 pencil, trace around the outside edge of the paper pattern.

leather burning by Lora Irish

working the leather

2 Place the leather on a cutting mat with the raw-hide side up. Using a craft knife or bench knife, cut the necklace free from the scrap leather. Save the extra scraps from the cut leather block for smaller bracelet shapes and earrings.

leather pyrography by Lora Irish

3 With a white artist eraser, remove any remaining pencil guidelines from the raw-hide side of the leather necklace.

leather pyrography by Lora Irish

creating the grid lines

4 Using the cutting mat ruler marks as your guidelines, create a diagonal 1” square grid on the tanned side of the leather with a soft, #4 – #8 pencil.

leather working and pyrography

5 – 6 With a leather hole punch, cut a 3/16” or 1/4” hole in each side of the necklace to receive the jewelry chain and beads. Create one hole at the center point of the bottom edge of the leather necklace to receive a bead dangle.

leather jewelry DYI

leather jewelry DYI

finishing the raw edges

7 With a cotton or wool swab applicator, apply one coat of gum tragacanth along one edge of the leather necklace.

pyrography on leather
8 Briskly rub the damp edge with a wooden edge slicker. The handle of a large wooden spoon works well in place of a slicker. The gum tragacanth and slicker will polish and round the raw cut edge of your necklace.

pyrography on leather

burning the fill textures

9 The pyrography burning for this project is worked as a texture and fill practice board, where each 1” square is filled with a different, small pattern. Have fun creating your own fill patterns or refer to the Fill Pattern Chart with our Mushroom Doodle Pyrography Project.

pyrography zen doodles
10 As you work each 1” square, vary the temperature setting of your pyrography pen to create some squares with pale tonal values, some with medium values, and some with dark toned values.

pyrography zen doodles

adding borders

11 With a ball-tip or loop-tip pen, on a hot temperature setting, work along some of the pencil grid lines with a series of evenly spaced, small dots. With the straight edge of a shading pen tip, work the remaining grid lines with evenly spaced, short dash lines.

wood burning on leather
shading the lower edge

12 You can add a little touch of shading along the bottom edge of your leather necklace using a shader-tip and a medium temperature setting. Work this layer of shading right over the fill and texture patterns that you have already burned. Rub a white artist’s eraser over your burned surface to remove any dirt, oil, or remaining pencil lines from the leather. Dust with a dry cloth.

leather burning by Lora Irish

pyrography close-up

wood burned leather jewelryClick on the leather cutting patterns below for a full-sized pattern.

leather cutting pattern for jewelryHere are two more ideas for your leather burned jewelry necklace, worked with patterns from our Henna Tattoo Pattern Pack.

leather burned necklace


And, this one!

leather burned necklace
In the next post I will be showing you how to add your jewelry chain, bead dangles, and copper findings.  So, check back soon!