How To Burn Designs Into Gourds

Even before the advent of pottery, ancient civilizations utilized gourds as one of their tools for survival. Hollow and dried shells of bottle gourds were transformed into different domestic items such as bowls and bottles. Nowadays you can see gourd art evolving, with creation of pieces such as masks, lamps, birdhouses and even musical instruments. In this article you will learn how to burn designs into gourds.

1. Gather all the materials for your gourd art project.

Gourds come in different shapes and sizes and you can get them from the local market or a gourd farm. Check the yellow pages for a list of gourd farms or try searching on the Internet. Visit your local craft store and get a wood-burning pen. You can choose from different tip styles, but as a beginner, just choose the standard, regular tip wood burner. Other materials that you may need to complete your gourd art project are sand paper, pencil or chalk, drill, hand saw, acrylic paint, paint brush, decorative beads.

2. Clean the gourd.
There are ready-to-use gourds being sold but if you were unable to find such, just get a bucket of warm water and soak the gourd for about 15 to 30 minutes. Scrub it clean using a scouring pad or a cleaner brush. Wipe the gourd with a clean towel and let it dry. Once it is dry, get your sand paper to sand off the rough spots.

3. Trace the design on the gourd.

Grab a pencil or a chalk and draw your design on the gourd. If you are not very talented with drawing, but saw a particular design, say, on the Internet, you can print it out and trace it on the gourd using a carbon paper. Use a masking tape to attach the carbon paper on the gourd, and then tape the print-out of the design on top of the carbon paper. Trace the design on the print-out with your pencil. Use a damp cloth to remove the marks that you mistakenly drew on the gourd.

4. Burn the traced design on the gourd.

Fine dusts are produced when you burn the gourd so before you start, make sure that you wear a protective mask to prevent accidental inhalation of the dust. Burning the design on the gourd depends on your hand movement, the pressure you apply, and the amount of time that you leave the wood burner on a certain spot. For darker spots and lines, slowly trace the design on the gourd until you reach the desired thickness. Thinner lines are achieved by tracing the wood burner lightly and quickly on the design.

5. Finalize the design of the gourd.

Now that you have the design permanently engraved on the gourd, it is up to you if you want to paint on the gourd and add other decorative pieces such as beads. Use an acrylic spray to protect and waterproof the design and paint on the gourd.

In ancient times, they had to heat metal spears over a flame to burn designs onto gourds. Luckily, wood-burning pens are made available to make it easier for gourd art enthusiasts. Once you are comfortable in using a wood-burning pen, invest in a professional wood-burning pen with different tip styles and have an electronic heat control for adjusting the temperature.


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