They are never in the leading role. They're rarely ranked as supporting actors. No, for all their versatility, ornamental gourds are almost always the extras of the fall decorating season. From Halloween to Thanksgiving, they fill in, accent and adorn porch decorations and tabletop centerpieces, pumpkin displays and fall cornucopias.
They are never in the leading role. They're rarely ranked as supporting actors.
No, for all their versatility, ornamental gourds are almost always the extras of the fall decorating season. From Halloween to Thanksgiving, they fill in, accent and adorn porch decorations and tabletop centerpieces, pumpkin displays and fall cornucopias.
Not that they aren't perfect for minor, but all-important crowd scenes.
With their miscellaneous shapes and sizes, in their varied and variegated fall colors, not to mention their easy, inexpensive availability, they are the ideal accessory to dress up a hollowed-out pumpkin and enrich a harvest-themed arrangement.
So let us now enter a world where gourds are the undisputed stars of the show.
That would be the American Gourd Society or any of its 27 state chapters, including Illinois, of which a Peoria Heights woman, Bonnie Cox, is president.
More than 11,000 people attended the state group's annual gourd festival at Chicago Botanical Gardens in September, she says. Judges selected winners competing in 158 categories.
Who knew there were so many different craft-making possibilities for the lowly gourd? Gourds with woven rims. Gourds decorated with wood burning. Gourds designed to look like 1) fanciful animals or 2) realistic animals?
Who knew there are two basic categories of gourds, ornamentals and the kind gourd crafters are most interested in, the hard-shell gourd?
That's the purpose of the gourd society, says Cox, quoting the mission statement, "to promote the knowledge of gourd growing and crafting and an appreciation for the uses of gourds by many cultures."
Other cultures, she notes, find practical uses for gourds - as serving utensils or for food and water storage - as well as musical uses - for drums, flutes and rattles. But the practicality and the utility are often combined into beautifully decorated craftsmanship.
Then there's the 15 or so women, members of Peoria Garden Club, who attended Cox's gourd wreath-making workshop earlier this month at Lakeview Museum.
All of them have decorated with ornamental gourds at one time or another. All but one have simply thrown them away once they got moldy and their decorative usefulness was over.
"I finally just bought the fake ones," says Sally Yocum, while working on her gourd wreath.
Though the workshop was about making wreaths using ornamental gourds as the focal point, it also was about preserving them.
Cox is a diva of growing and harvesting gourds. But, for post-holiday decoration purposes, there are two points she wants every holiday decorator to understand about those soon-to-be moldy gourds.
"Mold isn't bad," she says. "One, you can prevent it, and two, if you've got it, you can get rid of it."
Pam Adams can be reached at (309) 686-3245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.