I had about a dozen assorted sizes and shapes that I spread throughout my different Fall arrangements. After Thanksgiving, I didn't want to just throw them out, so I decided to try my hand at drying out and preserving the gourds. I did some research online and went to work. I set aside an area in my backyard and set the gourds out to dry. From what I read, the main concerns are air circulation and moisture drainage. The gourds can't sit in water, and they must have constant air circulation. Temperature can change - they can even freeze - but no standing water or stagnant air.
As the water leaves the gourds, mildew forms on the surface and then dies. This creates designs on the skin that discolors the gourd. In order to minimize this effect, I tried one of the suggestions to periodically wash my gourds with a bleach-water solution to remove the mildew build-up. Even though I read that it was ok for the gourds to freeze, I was afraid of how wet they'd stay in the snow, so I moved them inside to my basement after they got past the initial wettest stage (which my kids call the "stinky" part). Despite equal treatment, at the point of moving to the basement, my gourd count was down by half. None of my gourds that were similar to pumpkins in shape made it - they got mushy and rotted. One of the instructions I read explained that in order to dry a gourd, it needs to have a stem of at least 2 inches long. My gourds with stems fared best, so this is good advice. After their time in the basement, the surviving gourds were down to 3. They are a good three though, so I'm still happy!
The largest of the three gourds is my favorite of the whole group, and I knew I wanted to do something special with it. I read about carving gourds, painting gourds, staining gourds - WOW - I had no idea of the gourd crafting out there! But what I had in mind was a little bit different.
|Here is a close-up of the design on the surface of the gourd.|