Friday, November 4, 2016

Christmas Gourds: How To

Two years ago, a garden experiment resulted in an overabundance of gourds. I've been trying to find ways to use them ever since. These are small gourds, about four or five inches tall, so they're not really big enough for birdhouses. I've been dying, painting, and woodburning them, and even adding polymer clay. Results have been, shall we say, mixed. I'm not much of an artist, but I've been having fun.

My latest project turned out fairly well. It involves making gourds into Christmas tree ornaments, for indoor or outdoor trees. It's a fairly simple project. If you'd like to try your hand at gourd-craft, here's how I did it.

You'll need a gourd, a pencil, a small paintbrush, and paint. Also a woodburner, a jump-ring, jewelry glue, and spray-on clearcoat, all optional.

1. Clean the gourd well, scrubbing with a stiff brush or steel wool. You'll need to remove the natural waxy coating so the paint will stick. As they cure, gourds get this ugly black stuff that looks awful, but most of it scrubs away. If it leaves a few stains, that's okay. It adds character. Now let it dry.

2. Mark your design with a pencil. I freehanded this one, but there are lots of poinsettia clipart designs on the internet. 
3. Use a woodburner and go over all the lines. Add veins to the leaves and petals. My woodburner cost around twelve dollars. This step is entirely optional, but I like the way it looks.

4. Paint. Because I wanted the woodburned lines to show through, I thinned the acrylic paint with water to create sort of a transparent wash. If you decided to skip the woodburning, you'll want to use paint at full strength so it's opaque. If you use the opaque method, let the paint dry and then paint veins onto the leaves and dots in the center.
Here I used ivy green for the leaves, and red for the flower, and yellow-green for the center.


5. Glue a jump-ring on top so you can hang it on the tree. Jewelry Goop works well, and you can get the rings cheap in the bead department of the craft store. I tried screwing a tiny screw-eye in, but the stem end of a gourd is surprisingly hard. The glued-on ring works well. Or you could just glue a ribbon to the top.

6. Let dry, and spray with a gloss clear-coat if desired. I recommend it. It protects the paint, darkens the gourd to a nice leathery finish, and makes the whole thing shine. 

7. Thread a ribbon through the jump-ring, and there you have it: a Christmas gourd ornament. 

Are you working on any crafts for the holidays?


  1. I LOVE THIS!!! Send one to me for our tree! You are so talented! I always try to make at least 2 new ornaments a year for our tree. I have to admit, it was much more fun when the kids were little and they were making the ornaments and I just supervised. ❤️

  2. I haven't been doing a lot of crafting in the last couple of years, but this was fun.

  3. Hi Beth - visiting from JR blog :) Fun idea - this will prob. be too advanced for them, but my kids are just old enough to start Christmas crafts this year, and I am excited about it. I might try this myself, though! Looks fun :)

    1. It is fun, and easier than it looks. If you wanted to let the kids paint gourds, you could do something like put a star-shaped sticker on the gourd, have them paint around it, and when it's dry, remove the sticker and spray with clearcoat.

  4. Hope you have a great time with the crafts. Some of my favorite ornaments are the ones my kids made when they were little.