Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Heart & Hand: Gourd Carving with Karen Cheeseman

Karen brings the garden into the studio as she creates beautiful designs and decorations on gourdsGourd decoration, and pyrography, is an ancient tradition in Africa and Asia as well as among the indigenous peoples of the Americas, notably the central highland people of Peru, the Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo nations of the American Southwest, and the Nuxálk and Haida nations of British Columbia.  We ask Karen how she got her start and what she has planned next for the gourds in her garden.

1. How did you get started with gourd carving.
My husband grew the first gourds many years ago and I had to figure out what exactly the possibilities were. After lots of research, I just started experimenting with them. I started with pyrography, then tried various carving techniques, then on to fibre-art techniques of dyeing and resists. Now I do one or two, or sometimes all three methods, on my gourds. In the fall I occasionally carve some green gourds.

2. What types of objects and images do you create with the gourds?
My pieces range from fun birdhouses and feeders to gourd vessels and dangling creatures with intricate images and designs. I am strongly influenced by architecture, my rural surroundings and my graphic arts background. I am particularly fascinated with lines and positive/negative space.

3. Do you grow your own gourds?  Are there special gourds used specifically for carving?
My husband, the gardener, grows all of the gourds that I use. We harvest them in the fall and they sit out on the deck for the winter to dry. In the spring they are ready to be cleaned and used. There are lots and lots of different gourds to be grown. We grow birdhouse gourds as they have nice shapes and seem to be suited to our Canadian climate. I think you could probably carve any type.

4. What is next for you and your art? Any big projects in mind?
Now that's a big question... I'm always experimenting with different mediums and techniques. I've been working on more resist techniques lately... maybe some new dancing gourd creatures...
Fiddleheads, carved and dyed

Don't forget to say hello to Karen at the Heart & Hand Festival, Saturday, Sept. 24 at Joseph Schneider Haus, 466 Queen St. S., Kitchener.

No comments:

Post a Comment