"Leather Bloom," by Leann Traylor Scott of Henderson, won second place in the Miscellaneous category at this year's All About Gourds show in Mayfield. Scott says she enjoys working with gourds because so many techniques, such as wood burning, painting, and carving, can be applied to them.
Brian Parks crafted a guitar from a gourd for last year's All About Gourds show in the Ice House Gallery, Mayfield. Although the guitar took home the Best of Show award, Parks said gourds are not his primary medium.
"Delicate Balance" by Kristi Hanson of Metropolis, Ill., won first place in the Real and Imaginary category at the All About Gourds exhibit in Mayfield this year. The exhibit is the focal point of the annual Gourd Patch Festival, and invites artists to explore the possibilities of the medium.
Most people look at gourds and see containers for water. Artists, however, see any number of possibilities.
“Your imagination is the limit. ... Pretty much anything you can do with paper or wood, you can do with a gourd,” noted Leann Traylor Scott of Henderson.
Scott recently won first place in the category of Visionary Vessels at the Mayfield and Graves County Art Guild’s 11th annual All About Gourds exhibit, held in the Ice House Gallery. Scott used a wood-burning technique to apply the design to her award-winning piece, “Four Crosses,” and finished the piece with gold leaf embellishments.
“I’ve done relief carving, wood burning, stippling. You can put anything from leather dye to acrylic paint to acrylic dyes (on a gourd),” she said.
The exhibit, which is the focal point of Mayfield’s Gourd Patch Festival, draws both local and national entries, according to juror Brian Parks.
“To think there’s someone on the other side of the country that loves gourds so much that they’d mail their prize piece to our little show, we’re so honored,” Parks said.
Some, like Scott, have developed a passion for gourds. Others, such as Parks — whose gourd guitar won the grand prize at last year’s exhibit — are less enthusiastic.
“I’ll be honest, gourds are not my favorite thing. I don’t dream about gourds,” Parks said.
The juror outlined his thought process in judging the show, saying he asked himself whether he would want the works in his own house. “Would someone say, ‘What is that?’ Or would they say, ‘It’s really beautiful’?” he said.
In the case of his favorite pieces, he forgets that he’s looking at a gourd at all.
“(Past contestants) have made lamps, bowls, made flower vases — all kinds of intricate containers and things that you look at and don’t immediately think, ‘Gourd,’” Parks said.
Shane Gregory, director of the Ice House Art Center, said he was surprised at the artistic possibilities gourds offer.
“I remember my grandmother having gourd birdhouses when I was a kid. Then I started seeing what people can do with them,” he said. “There are so many uses for them.”
Call Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.
Want to go?
What: The Gourd Patch Arts Festival, featuring the “All About Gourds” exhibit
When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15
Where: The exhibit is located in the Ice House Art Center, 120 North Eighth St., Mayfield. The festival will be held between North Seventh and Eighth Streets.