Artist Ann Blackwood makes gourds come to life

Published 11:02 pm Monday, September 16, 2013

Greenville resident and former Asheville high school science teacher Ann Blackwood began gourding when she saw a hand-carved nativity scene on a gourd in her dentist’s office. She thought, “I can do that!”

“I bought a pack of seeds and planted them. The vines grew up every tree and telephone pole they could find. Then, when harvested, the gourds released an awful odor. By Christmastime, however, all the family received birdhouses.

“Once I retired, I started purchasing gourds at flea markets. When I became a full-time caretaker for my mother, I began to use gourds as my entertainment.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Now, for the month of September, Blackwood is the featured artist at Thompson Garden Gallery in Tryon.

Gourds are natural objects and have been used since ancient times as bowls and storage containers. Gourds can be purchased that are more than a hundred years old — yet they are still useful as well as objects of beauty.

There are several tools that make gourding easier. The right choices make all the difference — mini-jigsaws, mini-power tools (such as a Dremel), a wood burner with different tips, and special dyes. The techniques vary and mastering them can be tricky — especially since gourd surfaces are so hard and curve in every direction. And, of course, larger gourds cost more and require more dyes, which are very expensive.

Blackwood shares, “I prefer to make gourds into useful items such as bowls or boxes with lids. One of my very favorite gourds is a bowl that shows an ocean scene with a cut-out turtle as its lid. I like animal and Native American designs the best.”

Gourding takes an incredible amount of time — especially since there are numerous cleaning and drying stages.

Visit Thompson Garden Gallery at 83 Palmer Street in downtown Tryon to see her work. You can also view the arts and crafts of approximately 40 other regional artisans among other hand-picked items for the home and garden.

Thompson Garden Gallery is open Tuesday–Saturday: 11 a.m.– 4 p.m. It is located at 83 Palmer Street. It’s behind Stott’s Ford and around the corner from the galleries of Green River Frame Shop, Skyuka Fine Art and Tryon Painters and Sculptors.

– article submitted by Mara Smith