Gary Kvalheim

Artist Statement

The idea of designing decorative gourds came to me while attending craft shows. There were a few out there, but the designs I saw seemed too simplistic to me. I started thinking about just how much could be done to transform them into a piece of fine art. Not knowing even the basics, I started reading about materials and techniques that could be applied and incorporated into their design. Through practice (which included more than a few failures) I found that the potential for transforming gourds into decorative pieces was nearly without limits.

With some, I start with a design or theme in mind, then look for a gourd to compliment my vision. With others, I study a gourd to find my inspiration, based on the shapes, colors, surface textures, and other unique circumstances. In either case, I begin by sketching the design onto the gourd with a pencil. When I'm happy with my sketch, I move on to the carving and cutting with a Dremel tool. After that, color is added with leather dyes, paint, metallic and pearlescent powders, and any number of other mixed media. Finishing usually involves a polyurethane or epoxy coating, depending on the level of gloss desired.

Of course, not all gourds are complete with just carving and color. Sometimes I incorporate separate design elements, which are usually created from scrap pieces of other gourds. Flowers, butterflies, handles, unique bases, etc. also find places in many of my creations. When gourds don't provide the material I need, I look to leaves, acorns, Insects, and even antique cast metal parts to finish off the piece.

Because each gourd has its own unique size, shape, coloration, and texture, each one is, in itself, a true original. I just pick up where Mother Nature left off, and try to make it an original piece of art.