Award Winning Gourd Artist Jane Adolf
When she planted her first gourds, award winning gourd artist Jane Adolf wasn’t thinking about blue-ribbons. Prior to retiring in Kentucky, Jane lived in New Mexico where the desert climate prevented growing most plants. Once she arrived in a more cooperative climate, she decided to plant egg gourds. Her crop was a wild success, which left a different challenge. What to do with all the gourds?
Before long Jane started inking on the smaller gourds and found the process relaxing. Then she began experimenting, refining her inking style, testing out dyes and learning to use hand tools for carving her gourds. After graduating to larger gourds, she began to find her creative vision – covering each piece in very detailed drawings and Zentangle inspired design.
“My favorite project is probably a larger bottle gourd that took hours and hours to complete. It was one of my earlier projects, and I love the movement and tranquility in all the chaos of the artwork,” said Jane.
Earning Awards for Her Art
Jane received her first blue-ribbon at the Shelby County Homemaker’s Showcase. From there, her pieces advanced to state competition where she also won numerous blue ribbons.
“That gave me confidence to enter my county fair and eventually our Kentucky State Fair. In 2021, I received Best in Show in the gourd category – what a thrill!” said Jane.
A Craft for Any Skill Level
Creating gourd art can be as simple or complex as the artist makes it, from basic drawings with markers to elaborate carved pieces. Gourd artists paint, draw, carve, burn, dye and even weave on their gourds. The variety of shapes and sizes offer canvases for many different types of art.
For beginners, Jane recommends getting a clean dry gourd in a shape or size they like. You can often purchase these online at Etsy or at local festivals. Then decide your artistic medium, drawing or painting for example, then anyone can create art.
“When I’m vending, I love to hear them chuckle or laugh out loud when they look at my silly critter gourds or find a gourd reminiscent of their pet,” said Jane.
From Seed to Art
Growing your own gourds is a lengthy process. Each year in May, Jane starts her seeds indoors then transplants them outdoors when the soil warms. She harvests gourds at the first frost, then dries and cures the gourds outdoors until spring. The mold and fungus that grows on them can be toxic, so Jane works outdoors when cleaning the gourds. That’s part of why she recommends buying clean, dry gourds, when just getting started.
To learn more about Jane’s artwork, visit her website https://sweetwaddyjane.com.
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