Learn more about one of the earliest materials used by humans at the Illinois Gourd Society Show & Sale from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 20 and 21, at Chicago Botanic Gardens, 1000 Lake-Cook Road in Glencoe.
"We like to say that gourds are nature's Tupperware because they have been used for thousands and thousands of years to contain food and beverages," said Lynn Quinn, president of the Illinois Gourd Society and chair of the show and sale. Humans continue to use gourds to gather and store food, and for musical and artistic expression. "Gourds can be useful. They can be beautiful. They can be a lot of fun to work with."
Visitors to the Illinois Gourd Society Show & Sale can view gourds of all shapes and sizes -- as tiny as a thimble to longer than an arm -- and ask questions of gourd society members, on hand to discuss gourd culture, uses, and history, and explain the different methods for decorating gourds.
"Anyone can work with gourds," Quinn said. "There are techniques for people at all skill levels. The medium is so interesting, and it can be an economical hobby."
Families can enjoy special demos to explore simple gourd crafting, and can also learn more about growing their own gourds at home. Gourd farmers will be present, selling dried gourds for fall decorating and crafting.
Artisans will sell a diverse selection of decorated gourds, ranging from ethnic art to whimsical folk art and fine art. Shoppers will find utilitarian items, such as gourd birdhouses, as well as dolls and other ornamental figurines, and traditional and modern artwork. Seeds, tools and supplies will also be available.
A series of gourd art workshops will be offered in conjunction with the event through the Joseph Regenstein Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden:
• Chip Carving from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, Sept. 19. Create interlocking patterns of u-shaped "chips" to reveal unique design patterns on a gourd, then finish the gourd with stains that highlight the carved design. Students will choose to create a bowl or birdhouse. Fee is $65. Registration required.
• Resist Gourd from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, Sept. 19. A fun process for decorating a gourd, resist techniques can be used to create layered effects with color and texture. Starting with a small, whole gourd, students will use vinyl and ink dyes to create shapes or designs on the gourd. Fun, different, and beautiful. Fee is $45. Registration required.
• Eggshell Inlaid Gourd from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19. Use natural eggshells to create a fascinating "inlay" look and texture on a gourd. Add color and accents with paints and inks to finish your beautiful, decorative gourd. Fee is $55. Registration required.
• Gourd Birdhouse 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19. Students will paint the gourd their color of choice, then hot glue the seeds from the gourd's insides to make a roof. Paint charming accents like a door, windows and flowers, seal it, and it's ready to hang. Fee is $55. Registration is required.
• Gorgeous Gourd Vessel from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 20. Coil with Danish cord and waxed linen to create a one-of-a-kind gourd vessel. Add yarn, feathers, and dried materials to the finished project. We will also discuss growing, cleaning, and dyeing gourds. Fee is $60. Registration required.
• Gourd Flowers from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 20. Students will use small ornamental gourds that the instructor has cut and prepared. Learn the proper sanding and building techniques to create sweet forever flowers made from gourds. Apply decorative finishing touches with paint, leaves, and sealer to preserve your creations.
• Gourd Guts Papermaking from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20. Make paper from dried gourd material. The interior lining of the dried gourd makes a wonderful texture on handmade paper. Mix shredded paper with gourd fibers to produce a variety of colors to obtain your final product. Fee is $55.
• Zentangle Workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20. Create beautiful images by drawing simple structured patterns. Zentangle is a meditative, repetitive art technique using drawings called tangles. Zentangle calms the mind, helps reduce stress, and improves focus. Fee is $45. Registration required.
For more information about the gourd art workshops go to: chicagobotanic.org/education/arts_and_crafts.