Sarah Nelson’s son broke a gourd in their garden, resulting in lots of gourds the next year. Now what to do with them? Her answer was to create art.
Sarah Nelson of Felton, Delaware has been making art with gourds for over 20 years. It all started when her oldest son broke a gourd in the backyard garden. By summer, they were swimming in gourds.
Nelson started making them into birdhouses. Her mother suggested they go to a gourd festival in Ohio. They went and were amazed by all the artwork they saw using gourds, everything from hats and art to earrings. With that as her inspiration, Nelson got to work.
The shape has everything to do with what the gourds turn into. “Usually the shape will tell me. Sometimes I’ll have a gourd for years and not know what to do and then, all of a sudden, it just hits me”, said Nelson.
When most people just see gourds, Nelson sees dragons, cats, snakes, snowmen and people. She gives them a personality.
But why paint gourds, not on a canvas? Sarah says, “I don’t like that. I like three-dimensional. Instead of a flat surface, I have a shape to work with. To me it’s a lot more fun than just painting. I have painted some canvas paintings but I really enjoy the three-dimensional aspect of the gourds, and okra and turnips.”
Even after 20 years of doing gourds, Nelson still likes them. She has also recently branched out into using turnips and okra in her work.
It still makes her happy, and she likes making others happy with her work. “I enjoy selling, and having people look at things and complement me. Makes me want to keep doing it more.”
“A lot of people will look at something I’ve done and they’ll laugh or just smile; it makes people happy. Most of my pieces have happy faces. “