How To Clean A Gourd For Competition
Disappointed because your dried or crafted gourd did not win a ribbon? Could a dirty stem be the reason?
If you have never judged a dried or crafted gourd class maybe you don’t realize that the stem is judged as well as the body of the gourd. The judge first checks to make certain that the gourd meets the Class Requirements. Class Requirements for a dried gourd class require the stem to be clean. In the crafted classes, how well the gourd is prepared before the artwork is applied is essential. Although it may not be specified in writing, gourds with dirty stems are not considered quality work; they may not be considered for a ribbon, regardless of how many gourds are in the class. They are automatically eliminated.
To clean a show gourd you will need a plastic or copper pot scrubber (stainless steel scrubbers tend to have very sharp edges and can leave scratches), a small smooth bladed knife, (kitchen paring knife), a wet towel, and a tooth brush. Dish detergent is optional since some will leave a residue on the gourd. Whether you clean your gourds indoors or out of doors, hot water tends to loosen the gourd skin more quickly. Put the gourd in the hot water, covering it with a towel that has been soaked in the hot water and let it soak for about 15 minutes. Gently scrub the gourd with the scrubber. If the skin on the gourd is very tight and does not come off easily, soak the gourd again and try scrubbing again. If stubborn skin will not come off, use the small knife to scrape off any resistant skin.
To clean the stem, use the tooth brush. Beginning at the base of the stem, gently scrub the stem toward the clipped end. If the stem is stained, mix a mild bleach solution and turn the gourd upside down and dip the stem into the bleach until the stains disappear, then rinse thoroughly. Use the small knife to scrape away any small fragments of skin that might be left around the base of the stem. Be sure to turn the gourd upside down and check the blossom end and use both toothbrush and knife, if necessary, to clean thoroughly. Rinse the gourd well and set out to dry. Set the gourd in a shaded area since the heat from the sun can cause drying too fast and can crack the shell. Recheck for any dirt or skin you may have missed, and touch up as needed.
Please remember that gourds must be well seasoned for crafting. Some people believe that using bleach on the gourd will kill mold or mildew. It will, but it is damaging to your hands and can dry the gourd skin excessively. Generally, if there is much mold on the gourd, it may not be thoroughly dried on the inside even though seeds rattle. Gourds dried in the field may not be completely dry inside and it is wise to allow the gourd to "cure" or dry for a full season before using them for crafting. The thorough drying causes the skin to dry and loosen and eliminates the need for bleach since mold feeds on moisture.
We have covered the cleaning of the outside of a gourd but what do you do when you make a bowl or vase or covered container? Judges take into consideration how clean the inside of gourd is when the lid has been removed. If you take time to embellish the outside of a gourd make sure you clean the inside. This will keep down gourd dust and also the tobacco beetle. There are many tools on the market to clean out the inside of a gourd. You can also use "tools" you have on hand - a large tablespoon or an old ice cream scoop works well. After you have removed the seeds and most of the membrane, you can take sandpaper to buff out more of the "guts" and give a better smoother finish. (Drywall screen works very well). Once that is done you can spray the interior with acrylic finish and this will improve the appearance and also catch the eye of the judges. You can also line the interior if suitable for your entry class.