Fall is harvesting time for hard-shell gourds, usually after the first frost. I love gourds for all the possibilities they offer but most of all, I love to felt gourds.
My approach to felting is rather unorthodox; even I will admit that! You still need wool fiber, hot water and soap but here’s where I go astray. I find that by rubbing a small amount of dishwashing liquid all over the gourd the fiber adheres much easier. Add the first layer of fiber then pat the gourd with a small amount of warm water and start layering the fibers onto the gourd. The last things that I apply are some curly locks, yarn and a layer of silk hankie
The hankies are made from the cocoons of the Bombyx Mori silkworm. After the cocoons are de-gummed, they are stretched out into a square and layered. The layers are then hand dyed, creating many hues within the same hankie.
The yarn that you use does not have to be wool because it will get felted in with the wool fibers as an inclusion. I then carefully add a thin layer of the silk hankie over the gourd. The final step is to carefully place the gourd into a sock (acrylic or cotton) or a nylon knee high. Wrap the excess sock tightly around the gourd then wrap non-wool cord or yarn around to keep the gourd/sock in place. Now into the washing machine with regular detergent, hot water and a load of towels. Process through the whole cycle for best results. Yes, even the spin cycle-this is a hard-shell gourd and it won’t crack or break. Next is the hardest part for me-waiting for the gourd to dry without taking a peak!
I use my “solar dryer” to dry my gourds, usually for a day or more hanging on the line. That works well for me here in San Diego but you can also try drying in your conventional clothes dryer or drying with a hair dryer. I would still let the gourd sit for a day so that the fibers thoroughly dry. WARNING: Do not use an industrial heat gun-disastrous results i.e. singed fiber, possibly a cracked gourd (this from the voice of experience!). You can’t hurry the process.
When you are sure that your gourd is dry, then carefully unwrap it and be ready for a surprise. This is a very serendipitous style of felting or, to be more exact, you have no control over where or how the fibers will migrate. Colors may blend, the felt may have drifts or wrinkles and bare gourd shell may show. It’s all good!
But now the real fun begins. Time to pull out all your beads and baubles and start to embellish your felted gourd. I use 4# Fireline in smoke color to stitch on the beads. I like this thread because it’s easily buried into the fiber and won’t show as a colored thread might. Also, you can pull it tight to sculpt the fibers around the gourd.
I make coiled wire stand to display my gourds and also use them to decorate our Christmas tree.
Thank you for stopping by. I hope you will be inspired to try felting a gourd and sharing your photos