March Gourd Madness features art for everyone

Published 10:56 am Monday, March 6, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

CLANTON —Gourds transformed into animals large and small, snowmen, vases, masks and even a purse are featured this month at the Chilton County Art Council for March Gourd Madness.

March Gourd Madness, hosted by Gourd Exposure, is open to the public each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free.

On the opening Saturday, artists from throughout the region came to feature their art and talk with other gourd artists and gourd art enthusiasts. Some of the pieces displayed were also for sale.

Some of the larger pieces were vases mimicking ceramics.

“I came from a poor family and I learned that if you see something you like you better learn how to make it, and I saw a ceramic piece that I really liked and I thought, ‘That’s the basic shape of a gourd,'” Lynn Marino said.

She was able to replicate the ceramic bird with a gourd.

Friends enjoyed the piece and asked her to do more art with gourds, later she entered an art show.

The art is made from long lasting, hard-shell gourds.

“They have actually found gourds that are over 1,000 years old, so they are like wood,” Marino said.

She said these decorative gourds are thought to have originated in China. Marino said Native Americans used gourds to make bowls, rattles and decorations.

Artists get inspiration for each piece from the shape of the gourd.

For Jim Jones, the shape of some gourds inspired him to make a manatee, a colorful fish and a whale. Clay was used to complete the features of the animals.

“It’s just imagination,” Jones said.

Some artists carve the gourds, while other primarily paint them with acrylics. Some are made completely out of a gourd, while others use the gourd as a foundation.

Jones used a medium-sized small gourd as the base for his two story “Hobbit House” piece.

Tree limbs, pinecones, clay and wood were used to complete the roof and other details on the house and yard.

“They can be whimsical. They can be serious,” Marino said. “They can be functional or they can just be statuary. It’s just such a blank canvas that Mother Nature gives us.”

Dottie Watts, who was attending the show for the first time, was looking for unused gourds of a particular shape to turn into birds.

“I enjoy it,” Watts said.

Attending the show peaked her interest in wood burning techniques, and attending classes.

“I like the natural looking stuff,” Kim Littleton of Georgia said. “I love the animals.”

The Littletons attended the show, while visiting family.

“It’s amazing some of the stuff they have done,” Richard Littleton said.

Karen Stone said she works mostly with miniature gourds. She started in the art form by painting some gourds for Shirley Lawrence of her family’s home place. Since then, Stone has created art by painting thousands of gourds.

“That’s the way most of us are, we have been doing this for a long time,” Stone said.

Introductory classes in gourd art will be offered on the second and last Saturdays of this month. A demonstration of artists making pieces from gourds will be held on March 18.

The art show is in the Rose Gallery located at 703 Second Ave North.