Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Decorating with Gourds

I don't know about you, but these "Dog Days of Summer" have me already pining for Fall and cooler temperatures. Although we won't have even a hint of Fall before October here in Mississippi, that doesn't keep me from thinking about it.

With that in mind, I would like to share one of my favorite Fall decorating items, which you can find at most roadside produce stands or farmers' markets — gourds!

I think gourds are the perfect Fall accessory — they're natural, inexpensive, and you are limited only by your imagination how you use them. Add some vines, berries, and leaves, and you can create beautiful centerpieces and arrangements that will last until Thanksgiving.

You can use them in their natural state, or you can stain or paint them to complement your decorating style ... and one of the best things about gourds is that you can use them from year to year. I store mine in a large plastic bag in the attic, and they have lasted several years.

The following picture features some gourds I bought for my mother and daughter at a yard sale at a farm a few years ago.

Here is the way they looked after we stained them ...

If you would like to try your hand at staining gourds, here are a few suggestions:

When shopping for gourds, be sure to select gourds with character — in various shapes and sizes, and with lots of different colors and patterns. The more interesting they are in their natural state, the prettier they will be after they're stained.

Start with clean gourds. You can wipe them off with damp paper towels or, if you're not going to stain them right away, rinse them off with a hose and place them in the sun to dry.

I use Minwax stain in several different finishes (Special Walnut, Mahogany, Golden Oak, and Walnut, to name a few). You can also use oil paints to add more color, if you'd like.

The best thing about working with stain is that you really can't make a mistake. If one finish is too light, you can just go over it with a darker stain, until the desired effect is achieved. Also, if the gourd has a lot of natural color and interesting patterns, you may want to just spray it with polyurethane to seal it, and not stain it at all.

I use paper towels (be sure to wear gloves because the stains are oil-based), and just "dab or rub" the stains on the gourds. After the stain is dry, spray them with a coat of polyurethane to seal the finish.

Here is a picture of some of my gourds after I stained them ...

My mantel arrangement
(you can click on the picture to get a closer look)

And my Welsh Dresser decorated for Fall ...

If this has inspired you to start your own gourd collection, I hope you enjoy yours as much as I have mine.


racheld said...

Simply lovely, and I can feel those Fall breezes already!!

Those shines and colors will fit in with anything in an Autumn house, and all the shapes are just charming. You can see birds and tea caddies and elf houses---no telling what those gourds get up to when the lamp's clicked off.


Richard Cottrell said...

I love your project. I have been wanted a few to hang on a string from my kitchen ceiling. We have a fall festival here in my little town in Oct. and they say some one has them there. Wish me luck. RC at My Old Historic House.

Valerie said...

I love the unique look of the gourds. You have given me INSPIRATION! Thank you for the lovely post today.

Merisi Vienna said...

Simply gorgeous gourds!
(I fondly remember a Chinese restaurant near the Watergate building in DC, called "The Magic Gourd".)

Merisi Vienna said...

Simply gorgeous gourds!
(I fondly remember a Chinese restaurant near the Watergate building in DC, called "The Magic Gourd".)