I began making ornaments for family and friends the first year I was married. That is a tradition I love and have continued for over 30 years. There has been a lot of variety and it is fun to see how the collection has grown.
This year I wanted to make an ornament from the garden. I’ve never grown gourds, but I had seen miniature ones and thought I could come up with an ornament or two. A quick internet search produced a number of sources, and I purchased some on ebay.
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I was inspired by gourd ornaments I had seen from Peru which had been decorated with a wood burning tool. I had no experience with wood burning but I thought I would give it a try with my gourds. The tool I purchased came with 4 different heads for creating various designs.
I used a scrap piece of wood from Mike’s shop to practice and soon felt that I was ready to begin decorating gourds. My first step, though, was to drill a small hole in the top of each gourd and insert a wire hanger into them.
For the ornaments that would become bird houses, I used the tool to burn holes through the gourd that were about a half inch in diameter. I then began “doodling” with the wood burner. I did not have specific patterns in mind for each gourd, but would just experiment with the various tips to see what each would do. Some were disasters, others I liked.
I then decided to cut the bottoms off a few gourds to see if I could make a bell. I used tips of gourds as clappers. I began to play with some of the pieces that had been cut from the gourds and decided that I could use these to make mushrooms.
I had hoped to finish the gourds with a natural finish and I tried cooking oil for this. It worked well on many of them, but on others it brought out dark imperfections which were unattractive.
So, in the end, I sprayed a light coat of varnish on them. Finally, I added fishing line to some and raffia to others to complete the ornament. They are now ready for tree hanging and gift giving!
And, of course, I’ll save a few for our own tree!
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