I would like to show you a challenging piece I did some time ago, and tell you a little about it here and show you a few photographs of it.
This is one of my gourds that I grew , a large bottle gourd and one of the thickest gourdsI have ever seen or grown.
After the end of the season and after the first Hard frost , I cut the vine loose from the gourd leaving a piece of the vine attached to the top and placed the gourds on a wooden pallet out in the garden to dry over the winter. As winter goes on I go out to the pallets every few days and turn the gourds so that they dry evenly and air can circulate around the entire gourd. Gourds dry out thru the hard shell and also the stem left on the gourd. The gourds sweat out the moisture that is inside and sluff off the waxy skin that covers the outside, thus exposing the hard outer shell. The gourds also get moldy and mildewed on the outside as they dry out, which has to be washed and scrubbed off when they are fully dry, I do this by placing them in a big tub of water with some bleach in it and let them soak for about 20 to 30 minutes, then use a stainless steel kitchen pot scrubber to scrub off any remaining waxy skin and the mold and mildew and it leaves a nice clean hard shell surface with some patterning from the mold and mildew.
I drew on the shape of the cutout for the top and proceeded to cut it out in a patterned shape, after which I cleaned out all the inner membranes and seeds that are inside and then scraped and sanded the inside clean and smooth. I then drew on all borders near the top and wood burned in the cutout pattern. Next it was time to draw on the Great Blue Heron and cattails and boarder the drawing with an oval shape.
Next step was to wood burn in all the bordering, the Heron and cattails. After all the wood burning was done, I next carved away all the hard shell of the gourd from around the Heron and cattails and left the water area with some roughness to assimilate moving water and above the water line, I sanded smooth all the carved area within the oval. The carved area is about 1/16 of an inch deep, thus leaving the Heron and cattails standing in relief.
The next step was to use a light brown leather dye over the whole hard gourd shell and use some leather dyes on the Heron and cattails, such as a bit of shading at the base of the cattails and the legs of the Heron and some on the Heron it self.
The Gourd stands 20 1/2 inches tall with the top on and is 11 inches wide and sits on a steam bent ring that is 2 1/2 inches tall and 10 inches wide.
Note: The gourd after cleaning out and sanding smooth inside is still a full 1/2 inch thick.
Gourd With Top Off
Close Up Of Heron
A closer view of Heron