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Tool Kit Helps Turn Gourds Into Art
If you grow gourds but don’t know what to do with them, you might be interested in this gourd tool kit designed by a man who is known for his gourd art.
  Gourd art is hot and it’s everywhere, says Jim Widess, owner of The Caning Shop in Berkeley, Calif. He has written books on the subject.
  Gourd festivals are held throughout the country, providing artists a place to win prizes and show off the many ways gourds can be transformed. They’re made into containers, dolls, instruments and birdhouses; carved, burned and painted on.
  Widess realized that regular size tools were awkward. Inspired by a tool made in England that was discontinued, he designed a smaller gourd saw, gourd drill and gourd sander more ideal for the delicate work. The kit, which also includes saw blades, engraving cutters and sanding sponges, sells for $185 ($95 for just the saw).
  “The mini jigsaw is comfortable for children and women to use. The mini, high-speed drill stays cool, and the small finishing sander leaves a nice surface,” he says.
  Thin, rigid saw blades allow for delicate cuts.
  He showcased the variety of things that can be done with gourds in his first book, “The Complete Book of Gourd Craft,” co-authored with Ginger Summit. It includes historical and ethnic information such as examples of 4,000-year-old African and Peruvian gourds. And he explains how to grow and care for gourds.
  “The most important thing about growing gourds is to leave them on the plant until the vine is dead,” he says. A big mistake many growers make is throwing away the gourd when it starts to mold after it’s harvested.
  “That mold loosens the skin. Gourds can take 6 to 9 months to dry. Then let warm water (and a little bleach) permeate the skin and wash it off,” Widess says.
  In addition to Gourd Tool Kits, Widess sells several books on specific types of gourd art from “Gourd Musical Instruments” to “Gourds and Fiber.”
  He also suggests checking out gourd festivals. The next one might make a great winter escape for northern folks. The Wuertz Farm’s “Running of the Gourds” Gourd Festival is in Casa Grande, Arizona, Feb. 6 - 8.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, The Caning Shop, 926 Gilman St., Berkeley, Calif. 94710 (ph 800 544-3373; www.caning.com; jim@caning.com).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #1