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When I met my first gourd, I didn’t know much. I knew about mothers and babies, because I was a midwife. But I didn’t know much about gourds. I didn’t know that they were among the first domesticated plants, or that they have been used throughout history as musical instruments, personal flotation devices, religious icons, and kitchen utensils. There was a time when every good cook had her favorite gourd. I didn’t know that, and I didn’t know I would be spending the next 14 years (and counting) washing, staining, carving, and illuminating gourds. There was so much I didn’t know.

Like most gourd artists, I am largely self-taught. Now, I know quite a bit! I know that a well-cared-for seedling, like a baby, will have a better chance of thriving. I patiently wait until the soil is warm to plant, and I do not count my gourds until they’ve dried. I know which carving burr to choose, and how much wax to apply. I know that my hands learn at a different pace than my brain. I know which projects will take flight, and which should return to the soil. I know what pleases me.

I know so much more now than when I embarked on this journey 14 years ago. I know how gourd lamps can make a place cozy! Come to Gourdlandia; I’ll be happy to tell you something I’ve recently learned, and (if you want) show you how you can make a beautiful gourd light.

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