11th Virginia Gourd Festival set this weekend
Posted: November 1, 2012
The Winchester Star
Middletown — Few things have as much potential for beauty when they are dead as when they are alive.
Gourds are one of the exceptions to that rule, and people who don’t already know why can find out this weekend at the 11th annual Virginia Gourd Festival, said Angela Mohr of Stephens City, membership chairwoman of the Virginia Lovers’ Gourd Society, which presents the event.
The festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Richard’s Fruit Market, 6410 Middle Road in Frederick County.
The festival will include classes on different gourd projects, a live auction, and displays by gourd growers, suppliers and artists, Mohr said. Admission is free, but classes have a fee of $30 to $50 each.
“There is an ongoing fascination about what a gourd is and what it can do,” Mohr said. “A lot of people come because they are curious and don’t know what it is all about.”
One of the big attractions for crafters is the 15 classes demonstrating projects they can do with gourds, she said. The festival draws its instructors not only from Virginia but from other states.
John Chlpka of Jackson Center, Pa., will teach a class, as will his wife, Nancy. The couple have been working with gourds about 20 years.
John’s class teaches how to make a chip carved birdhouse. Students will select a prepared gourd, create and carve a design, dye, waterproof and string a bird house.
The key to a birdhouse is the size of the opening, which will determine what kind of bird nests there, John said. Any of the carving is purely for the humans, and that is where people can have the most fun.
“Our attitude about gourds is that really the only limit to them is your imagination,” he said.
In Nancy’s class, she will teach people to make a hanging gourd wall pocket with beaded rim, John said. Students will select a prepared gourd, then lay out, drill and bead the rim with their choice of beads. Students will also dye and string projects.
Mohr will teach two gourd basics classes based on her book, “Gourd Basics,” which explains how to clean, cut, gut and decorate a gourd and repair one if it cracks.
She also will have a class on making thinking caps, which are headbands attached by a spring to a gourd that has been decorated. This year, she chose aliens and angels.
Saturday’s classes start at 9 a.m. with “Blessing Gourd Bowl,” “Gourd Basics,” “Native American Shield with Rawhide Weave,” and “Chip Carved Birdhouse.”
The 1 p.m. classes are “Beautiful Jewelry Gourds,” “Raku Gourd with Woven Top,” “The Gourd Thunder Drum,” and “Hanging Gourd Wall Pocket with Beaded Rim.”
Sunday’s classes start at 10 a.m. with “Four Fun Ornaments” (which repeats at 1 p.m.), “Three Diamonds — Using the Miriam Joy Technique,” “Angela’s Angel and Alien Thinking Caps,” and “Using Natural Fibers to Create Beautiful Cordage for Your Gourd.”
The 1 p.m. classes will be “Black and White Elegance” and “One Thousand Holes.”
A live auction will be held at noon Saturday with various “gourdy stuff,” including project gift baskets and decorated gourds.
Also at the festival will be vendors selling gourds, decorating supplies and decorated gourds, Mohr said.
New this year, the Virginia society will sell about 30 gourds that are craft ready, she said. The gourds have been washed, gutted and sanded so all people have to do is “put their art on it.”
“We are hoping we can show people the joyful end of gourd crafting, because a lot of people don’t like the dirty part. It is just messy,” Mohr said.
Proceeds from the festival will go toward a fund to help the society build a shed for its supplies, Mohr said.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com