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The Gourd Report
Vol 1. - Drying Gourds


Dry scrubbing a gourd requires a gourd to sit for a lengthy period of time, and at some point during the course of the curing process, you make a decision to either clean the mold off, or let it remain to create a mold mottled effect on the final dry gourd. Green cleaning is normally done before this molding process begins, and oven drying is a technique we’ve suggested here in this booklet. Through experimentation, we’ve discovered a technique that yields the light patches of shell on a gourd, that normally comes from green cleaning, but not only includes the mottling effect of the mold, but actually increasing the contrast between the two by using oven heat to deepen the molding effect.

For this effect, you must set your gourd out to begin the drying process, as if you were going to let it dry completely, but keep an eye on it. You want the mold to begin to grow, in fact, you want to let it culture well, but you also want to clean the gourd before ALL the green is gone. For our gourds, we like the effect we get with gourds that have more of the round spotted molds covering most of the gourd, with a few small area’s or patches that are still green. The green area’s of the gourd will remain light, and will not darken, even with oven temperatures around 200 degrees F. For the most part, using a chore boy copper scrubber, most of the skin will come off the molded area’s quite easily, since the skin is still damp, and the mold is holding the moisture at the surface level, but the green patches may require using the backside of a knife as you would in green cleaning. Remember, you can lightly use the chore boy over the green area to insure there is no residual skin remaining.


The Gourd Report
Vol 1. - Drying Gourds

Once all the skin is removed, put in the oven at around 175 - 190 degrees F and wait for the gourd to finish drying. (Iy is important to learn your oven, and the right temperature and watch the gourd. Too high heat will burn the mold markings, a lighter temp will create a nice reddish color to the mold markings) The heat of the oven will actually bake the mold, and toast it, but the temperature will not be high enough to toast the green area’s of the shell. If you have the right type of mold growing on the gourd, you should end up with a rusty reddish finish where the mold once permeated the gourd shell. The oven not only dries out the gourd faster, but it bakes in a stain from the mold itself.

The process is quite simple, and there is room for creativity and experimentation with this process. You can use a light spray of bleach solution once at some point in the early stages of the molding process, and get a running or streaked effect of the mold, try dripping some bleach in an area, or use bleach in one particular spot to see if you can develop a reddish mottled gourd with a nice light colored area for the purpose of doing a wood burn or artistic picture. We have not tried everything there is possible to try, we’ve only laid the groundwork. So have some fun and be creative, and experiment a little, but remember, experimentation should not be done on your prize gourds.


The Gourd Report
Vol 1. - Drying Gourds

There are some points you should keep in mind, and remember when trying new cleaning processes on gourds:

1) Always beware of mold, not only at cleaning time, but at planting time there are molds in the ground, it helps to dampen the ground before tilling and digging, to help keep the mold spores in the ground from becoming airborne, (especially in the Midwest where Histplasmacapsulatum is prevalent, it yields a disease called Histoplasmosis with flu like symptoms), and mold spores are prevalent on drying gourds as well. All molds should be treated with care and caution.

2) NOT ALL GOURDS are suitable for green cleaning, oven drying, etc. Bottle gourds, and gourds shaped like bottle gourds seem to be the most stable gourds in these processes. Also all the large gourds we tried, failed. The largest gourd we were successful with was Hyakunari’s in the 3 pound range, but every gourd we tried in the 10+ pound range shriveled and/or cracked. We had nothing in between these sizes to experiment on, so where the line should be drawn we cannot pinpoint at this time. We recommend for gourds in excess of 10 pounds to be cleaned by the rotting process, as this seems to work with Zulu gourds as well as a variety of larger gourds, however we have no data either from our own efforts, or even from the Japanese Society on rotting long gourds like snake gourds etc. There is a convenience factor due to their size in finding a tub and making one submerge for a lengthy period of time.

3) long handled, or long thin shelled gourds like snake gourds do not fare well with green cleaning. They are most likely to shrivel and crack.

4) Every gourd should be left on the vine until the vine stem has turned brown and dried. A gourd that has not fully cured will not likely survive regardless what cleaning and drying process you put it through.

5) Last but not least, we cannot guarantee your results, we have tried and tested, and given you the information of what worked successfully for us, to help to avoid the failures for you. What you have read in our booklet is the result of lots of experiments, trial and error, successes and failures. We green cleaned and oven dried over 100 gourds ranging in size from a mini Sennari weighing only an ounce or two, to Hyakunari bottle gourds weighing as much as 3 pounds. In the green cleaning and oven drying process, we lost about 5 - 8 gourds that apparently had not fully matured or were too thin shelled. Each result is fully dependent on the careful selection of what is or is not fully cured, the type of gourd, the thickness of the shell, and on nature itself.

We wish for everyone to grow and develop the most beautiful gourds you have ever grown, and hope that everyone might find some, or all of the information we offer from our experiences to be useful in producing a more beautiful finished piece of artwork, be it a crafted gourd, or a gourd in it’s natural state.

by Dan Dunkin

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