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Wildlife Gemstone Gourds

Learn about an artist who turns gourds into eye-catching items for the home.

Denise Meyers worked in the film industry for many years but had always wanted to get more involved in art. She took a class that introduced her to the world of gourds and all they can do and fell in love with it. Her competitive nature pushed her to create a highly sophisticated art out of these gourds. Gemstone inlay, raised wildlife images, wood-burned designs, and acrylic paintings all combine to turn plain gourds into fine art.

Meyers gets all of her gourds from a farm in southern California. She cleans them off, cuts them open, and cleans out the inside of each gourd. Meyers has dozens of wildlife photos she has taken herself that she uses for inspiration when picking an image for her work. Once she has decided which animal she will be using (in this case a wolf), she draws on her main design freehand with a pencil. Then a flexible measuring tape and rulers are used to graph out the geometric background. All the lines are then defined with a wood-burning tool. A small hand-held rotary tool is then used to carve elements of the design that will be recessed.

To fill in these recessed areas with color, Meyers has a unique technique. She gathers small bits of gemstones, things that jewelers would throw away, until she has a good amount. She then pounds those pieces, runs them through a coffee grinder and a flour sifter until the rocks develop the consistency of sugar. This powder is then mixed into an epoxy and placed into the recessed area with a toothpick. This is left to dry for a day and then sanded until it is a smooth edge. Then it is time to paint the rest of the image. She uses both leather dyes and acrylic paints to achieve the deep rich color she enjoys.

Once the painting is complete, the piece is sealed with a satin finish acrylic sealer and mounted on a base that matches the feeling of the piece. Her finished work is striking and certainly not what most people would think of when the words "gourd" and "painting" are combined. They are sophisticated and unusual, brightly colored environments that capture the spirit of wild animals.

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