Gourd Preparation

Cleaning the Outside of the Gourd

Your uncleaned gourd will most likely be dirty and moldy: this is normal for gourds after they have dried out. The mold creates beautiful patterns in the gourd surface.

It is best to clean your gourds outside but some people use the kitchen sink or bathtub. If you have a sensitive respiratory system, you may want to wear a respirator to scrub and clean your gourds.

Soak

Fill a large tub or your sink with warm water, and a bit of dish soap. Some people use a little bleach also, although many people do not and report that dish soap works just fine. If you do use bleach, read your label on your dish soap to make sure that itís safe to use with bleach. Add gourds then lay towel over top, wet it down good and let them sit for an hour or so, pouring the soapy water over the towel occasionally to keep the gourds wet.

Scrub

Some of the tools that people use for scrubbers:

Copper scouring pads
Sponges with a scouring side (use the scouring side)
Pot scrubbers
Old credit cards to scrape softened debris off (my favorite!)
Mr Clean Magic Erasers

The scrubbing tools that you use depend on the stubbornness of the dried skin and mold that the particular gourd has. My method is to soak, scrape with a credit card, and clean up the rest with a Magic Eraser.

If your gourd has a white dried coating, these can be particularly hard to clean. Lots of soaking and a scraper such as a dull kitchen knife, credit card, or paint scraper will usually take care of this.

Dry

Itís important to allow the gourd to dry completely before beginning a project.

 

Cleaning the Inside of the Gourd

It is very important that you wear a respirator for these steps because the moldy interior of a gourd can be harmful to breathe.

Equiuipment:

  • Respirator
  • Hand saw, Xacto knife, Versi-tool with Xacto attachment, gourd saw, or hand held jigsaw.
  • Gourd scraper, large metal spoon, or medium seashell (clam shells work well) For Gourd scrapers and saws, please visit the following websites:

http://www.turtlefeathers.com
http://www.caningshop.com
http://www.primitiveoriginals.com

Mark

Draw a line where you want to cut the gourd opening. If you want to make a bowl, you can use embroidery rings to trace a circle or drawing templates. My method of drawing the ring is to sit the gourd on a table and prop a pencil on a mug or other object that will hit the gourd at the right height to make a ring. Then I move the gourd in a circle, keeping it even until I reach my starting point.

Starter Hole

To start your hole, you can use an Xacto knife or a small drill to make a hole on the line. If you are using the top as a lid, I find that itís better to start with the Xacto so that you donít create any large gaps.

Cut

The tool that you use to cut the gourd may depend on the thickness of the gourd. For very thin gourds, an Xacto knife or Versi-tool with a knife attachment work well as does a mini jigsaw. With very thick gourds, you may need to use a jigsaw as many thicker gourds such as those from Welburn Farms will break blades on a mini jigsaw or gourd saw.

Scrape

Once you open the gourd, save the seeds for planting after the first frost! Remove the seeds and inner membrane of the gourd. Use your scraping tool to remove the material from the gourd. Some people leave the gourd like this, getting it as smooth as possible. Other people hand sand or use a wire brush attached to a drill or Dremel to get the inside very smooth. Also check the abovementioned websites for the Gourd Gizmo; a tool that attaches to your drill to clean the inside of your gourd.

This should take you to the beginning of any of the Classes or projects on our site that require gourd cleaning.

Now youíre ready to start working on your gourd!

 

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