weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Create your own Pueblo pots

Pueblo Indian pots start at $1,000 and can rise to six figures, according to "Antiques Roadshow" experts. I know I can never afford the real thing, but I can get the same look free or nearly free with gourds — and the proof sits all over my budget-decorated home.

The gourd preceded ceramics in the Americas as containers for food and water. In fact, gourds were the inspiration for the first pots, so there is a great deal of similarity in line and form between the two.

Gourds are essentially inedible winter squash with a hard shell and minimal flesh inside. They are easy to grow, if you have the space and the time. If you don’t want to wait, buy them in the fall at any local pumpkin patch. The seeds inside may be saved to plant in your own garden next year. There’s no guarantee of the outcome, but many turn out well.

Whether you grow or buy, there are many types from which to choose, including pots, dippers, canteens or warty gourds. Turning them into useful or decorative containers is the perfect "green" craft that lets you create truly remarkable works of art for little to no money. In fact, gourds can save you money because every finished pot can be another Christmas gift you don’t have to buy. Just imagine how much you’ll save with a whole crop of gourds grown from a $2 packet of seeds.

When buying at pumpkin patches, select a variety of different sizes and shapes so you’ll have lots to choose from during the long winter months. Look for those that stand up well without leaning.

The beauty of fully dry, cured gourds is that they have an outer surface that is easy to gouge, burn or paint. They also bounce when you drop them. The invention of the Dremel rotary tool literally revolutionized this craft, allowing you to create beautiful shapes, cutouts and textures with little effort. But for those on a smaller budget, a sharp heavy-blade paring knife, a hacksaw blade wrapped in duct tape for a handle or some sandpaper works just as well.

There are endless ways to decorate gourds to resemble the work of Southwestern Pueblo potters. A good resource online is the Gene Autry National Center, www.autrynational center.org, where you can search for Pueblo pottery and find photos of real antiques that provide lots of ideas for color, pattern and purpose.

There are two ways to get the best Indian-style pots. You can leave the gourd its natural color and use a simple wood-burning tool to carve your designs, or you can paint the surface any way you wish.

Wood-burners leave a depression where you make your line, and therefore the pattern will never wear off. Once your gourd pattern is incised, rub on a patina made of watered-down craft paint, wood stain or leather dye to give it an aged look.

Create more detailed patterns with paint atop a sanded, prepared outer surface. The old Pueblo pots were white with more elaborate graphics painted on. The downside to paint is that it chips and gets dusty. A compatible clear sealer helps reduce both problems.

When it comes to the giant world of gourds, there are societies, growers and seed sellers all over the Internet. And if that isn’t enough to jump-start your creative juices, check out the work of the many gourd artists online.

With money short these days, few crafts offer so much beauty and interest for so little money. If you love American Indian artifacts or are seeking to create real Western-style décor in your house or porch, now is the time to start shopping for gourds.

These Web sites don’t just sell gourds; they also contain great illustrations and instructions on how to cure and prepare raw gourds for decorating: Welburn Gourd Farm, www.WelburnGourdFarm.com and Leiser Farms, www.GourdFarmer.com.


Maureen Gilmer is a horticulturist. Her blog, the MoZone, offers ideas for cash-strapped families. Read the blog at www.MoPlants.com/blog. E-mail her at mogilmer@yahoo.com. Also, join her online for the Garden Party social networking at Learn2grow.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Chelated iron fertilizers need water to work

If you are going to apply an iron fertilizer it should be in a chelated form. The best all-around chelate to use is a chelated iron fertilizer called EDDHA.

What are the color trends for 2023?

This year’s color selections run the gamut — from a vivacious coral shade to a bluish-greenish one all the way to an earthy tone and an off-white choice.

Bitter orange can be hard to find in Las Vegas

Q: Is it possible to grow sour or bitter orange in Las Vegas? It’s becoming almost impossible to find at the local markets, and we use it in so many recipes. I was curious if that was something that might grow here. When should I plant it?

Minimize effects of seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder affects about 5 percent of the adult population, and its symptoms are triggered by less sunlight exposure, which lowers serotonin and vitamin D levels. If you are prone to SAD, there are a few things you can do around the home to help boost your mood.

Installing crown molding requires patience

Installing crown molding is precise work that requires patience and perseverance. An essential tool for this job is a power miter box saw, which cuts corners quickly and cleanly.