bowl made at a gourd art class, one of the unique things to do in kawartha lakes

Take a gourd art class at the Artisan’s Centre

Looking for something unique to do in Kawartha Lakes as an individual, a couple or a group? Sign up for a Beginner Gourd Art class at the Artisan’s Centre in Peterborough. That’s what we did as a Christmas gift to each other.

What is a gourd?

A gourd is a non-edible fruit. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae, or cucurbit family and is related to cucumbers, summer and winter squashes, and pumpkins.

There are 975 species of gourds. Most people are familiar with yellow, orange and green ornamental gourds which are quite popular as table decorations at Thanksgiving.

The gourds that are used for gourd art are called hard shell gourds. They do not rot and are very durable. As a result hard shell gourds have been used for thousands of years as storage containers and water vessels.

Today hard shell gourds are used most often to create items such as bowls, decorations, lamps, bird houses and feeders, masks—even musical instruments.

You don’t have to be “artsy” to take this gourd art workshop

The great thing about the Beginner Gourd Art class at the Artisan’s Centre, located in Peterborough Square, is you don’t have to be a crafty or artsy person to create a beautiful looking piece.

Everyone one who takes this hands-on class available in the Kawartha Lakes region creates the same item—a bowl.

Each step was very simple, including the painting and finishing of the bowl, and throughout the entire process we were guided by Anne, our friendly, personable instructor.

Our gourd art class broken down step-by-step

1. Choosing your gourd

The first step when you take the Beginner Gourd Art class at the Artisan’s Centre is to pick out your hard shell gourd. No two gourds are the same. This means no matter what, your bowl is going to be an original work of art!

hard shell gourd which is used in a gourd art class in Kawartha Lakes

2. Preparing the gourd

Once we selected our gourd its exterior needed to be washed and scrubbed. This was to remove any mold or dirt from the surface of the gourd.

Next we used a compass-like contraption to draw a circle around the top of the gourd like you would when creating a jack-o-lantern at Halloween.

With this line drawn, it was now time to use some power tools.

A drill was used to create a starter hole in the top of the gourd. Then we employed a mini jigsaw to cut along the line we had drawn so we could remove the gourd’s top.

With the top opened the inside of the gourd was exposed. It contained a small amount of dried up pulp and seeds similar to what you would find in a pumpkin. Most of it was removed by hand.

We then used a hand-held scraper to remove the rest. To get the inside completely smooth we moved over to a drill press and used a gritty ball bit to sand the inside of the bowl. This was followed by using an attachment that looked like the feathers of a Swiffer duster to do a final fine sanding.

3. Painting the inside of the gourd

With our gourds cleaned, cut and sanded it was time for the painting stage. For this, instead of paints we used Adirondack dyes which were non-toxic and water-based.

We painted the inside of the bowl first with a brush. It takes a while for the dye to dry so it was the perfect time to take a 45-minute lunch break.

4. Lunch break

At the Beginners Gourd Art class you can bring a lunch and eat it at the Artisan’s Centre if you wish. We decided to head out into the Peterborough Square and treat ourselves to lunch at one of the vendors.

There are a few different options in the mall’s food court. We chose to go with the sandwich and coffee shop that was a couple doors down from the Artisan’s Centre.

It was a good choice.

The sandwiches were made fresh, yummy baked goods were available, and the prices were reasonable.

5. Painting the outside of the gourd

After our lunch we returned to the Beginners Gourd Art class. The inside of our gourd bowls were still a little wet so sped up the drying process with a hair dryer. Once the inside was dry it was time to finish the outside.

For this we didn’t use a paint brush. Instead we used a tool that looks like a bingo dabber.

On the end of the dabber was a square piece of felt. This is where we applied a few drops of the dye colour we chose along with a drop of clear blender which helped thin out the dye slightly and make it runnier.

We then took the dabber and dabbed the dye over about 50% of the surface of the gourd. Next we did the same thing with a second colour, overlapping the first colour as we went. A third dye was then dabbed on as a complementary accent colour.

When we were all done the final affect was a beautiful, sophisticated, blended look. (See what I mean about not having to be artsy to create a beautiful gourd bowl!)

6. Finishing the gourd

With the dying of the outside of the bowl complete it was back to the hair dryer to accelerate the drying process.

When the outside was dry we applied a clear varnish with a brush. This was done to protect the surface and give it a glossy or matte finish.

7. Adding the final touch

The last step in the Beginners Gourd Art class was adding decorative trim to the top edge of our bowl.

This trim was actually leather strips that we affixed using white glue. For my bowl I applied three leather strips—two brown ones with a green strip in between them.

Our gourd art class was a fun, rewarding experience

Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a curious beginner, I highly recommend taking the Beginner Gourd Art class at the Artisan’s Centre.

No matter what your skill level the workshop is a fun, educational, and rewarding experience.

Throughout the class the atmosphere was relaxed and inviting, and the instruction we received from Anne was clear and easy to follow.

If you’re looking for something unique, creative and hands-on to do in the Kawartha Lakes the Beginner Gourd Art class at the Artisan’s Centre checks all the boxes.

Looking for a another fun social outing with friends or family?

How about sampling the wineries of the Kawartha Lakes?