General

How to Clean a Gourd

Option 1

1) You will need:
  •  A large container for your gourd.
  • Scrubbers: i.e. stainless steel, copper scrubber
  • A scraper to clean inside the gourd, if your gourd is cut.
  • A smooth-bladed knife
  • Wet towel (opitional)
  • Dish soap (optional)
  • Face mask
2) Whether you clean inside or outside, fill your container with hot water, this helps to loosen the skin. Allow this to soak for 15 minutes or longer, using towel to keep the gourd wet.
3) Gently scrub the gourd with the scrubber until all the skin is removed. If the skin is thick, you may have to repeat this process.
4) Rinse the gourd completely and let dry in a shady area, to keep the sun from drying it too quickly and cracking the gourd.
Option 2
1) You will need:
  • Inexpensive garden soil
  • Large container to bury the gourd(s) in.
  • Face mask
2) Layer soil and gourd(s), making sure that all gourd surfaces are in contact with soil.
3) Wait 3-5 days, remove from soil and hose off. If necessary, scrub loose skin. If it doesn’t appear clean, put it back in the soil for another day or two, repeat the process.
4) Rinse the gourd completely and let dry in a shady area, to keep the sun from drying it too quickly and cracking the gourd.
To clean the stem:
1) When cleaning a gourd, remember to clean the stem. A clean stem is the difference of possibly winning a ribbon or being disqualified.
2) Mix a mild solution of bleach with water, 1 part bleach to 3 parts water.
3) Turn the gourd up-side down, dip stem in bleach solution. It can be left in solution until stem turns white.
4) Brush the stem to remove dirt and mold.
Inside a cut gourd:
After cleaning the outside of your gourd, be sure to clean the inside of all seeds and skin, scraping the opaque inner skin completely clean. You can use anything that will remove the membrane – an old breadknife, a sharp stone, a purchased scraper, an ice cream scoop, a grapefruit knife, some sheetrock mesh –  try a couple things and see what works for you.
General

Watercolor on a Gourd

Masking fluid tips:

You can use masking fluid to preserve the uncolored gourd surface on a portion of a gourd you are painting.
There are “clear” and colored masking fluids
Use an old paintbrush to apply, it will ruin a good brush
You can extend brush life by wetting the brush and wiping it on a bar of soap before using it to apply masking fluid – rinse when done and the soap helps clean up
To remove dried masking fluid from a brush, put a small amount of lighter fluid in the palm of your hand and work the brush into it, peel the masking material from your brush, then rinse and clean with soap and water.

You can use other things to apply masking fluid – a toothpick for a tiny area, a ruler pen for long thin lines, you could try a cotton swab for a softer edge, a damp natural sponge
Apply to a clean, dry surface with a wet brush
Some masking fluid comes with an applicator tip – don’t squeeze the applicator to apply – hold it almost perpendicular to the surface you want to mask, and let the capillary action draw it from the applicator
Applying fluid to damp watercolor paper will cause it to adhere to the fibers of the paper and may tear the paper when you try to remove it (as if you would ever be tempted to use a flat, two-dimensional surface!)
You can also use masking tape
Apply your watercolor ground

MAKE SURE THAT THE MASKING FLUID IS DRY – otherwise, it will go into your brush!
You can lightly sand the area of the gourd you are going to paint for better adhesion of the ground (before applying the masking fluid).
Water color ground will cause the watercolors to “sink in” and hold – really necessary on the surface of a gourd
If you make a painting mistake, you can cover it with more ground
There are grounds of different consistencies. You can thin the one I’m giving you and apply several light coats instead of a really thick one to reduce drying time.
It also comes in colors – or you can tint it with your own watercolors for a background effect.
Apply your watercolor

You want to paint with a brush that will hold water (after all, these are water colors!)
If you don’t like the results, you can apply more ground and paint it again
Remove the masking fluid

Wait until the paint is completely dry!!
You can use a special pick-up rubber cement eraser
You can use a CLEAN eraser
You can rub it off with clean dry fingers
You can then paint the masked area (think center of a white daisy)
Finish and protect your work with a protective finish made especially for water colors. Read the “for use on” section of the label. I bought Krylon Matte Finish 1311, available at Preston Arts Center.

You can repeat various steps of the process until you get the result you want.