The student will understand the visual arts in
relation to history and culture.
The students will design and build their own 3-dimensional gourd
utilizing cardboard cone armatures and paper mache´.
We have become a multi-cultural society and anytime that we can
introduce our students to global cultures we are certainly enhancing
their curriculum. This project has opportunities for cross
curricular integration in a variety of ways including Language Arts,
Social Studies, and even Science.
Materials and Equipment:
Cardboard Cone Armatures (available from art
Paper Mache Art Paste
Newspaper (cut the newspaper pages in fourths or even in half
depending upon the sizes of the gourds to be built)
Brown Craft Paper cut into strips
Black, Red, Yellow, and Blue Tempera Paints
Gold and Brown Gloss Tempera
Natural Seeds and Beans (available from art supply catalogues)
African Designs from Traditional Sources by
Geoffrey Williams, Dover Publications
The Complete Book of Gourd Craft by Ginger Summit and Jim Widess, Lark
Dynasty/FM Brush - Eye of the Tiger
Oval: #0, #4, #6
Flats: #6, #10, #12, 3/4”
- Design a 3-dimensional gourd based on
- Build the gourd
using a cardboard cone armature, newspaper, masking tape, and paper
- Design an African inspired geometric and
nature based pattern for the exterior of the gourd and paint this
with tempera paints.
- If the student wishes they may add seeds
to the design for added interest.
- Introduce the project by discussing
gourds, their purpose, historical significance, how they are grown,
dried, and how gourds have been found archeologically throughout the
world. The book The Complete Book of Gourd Craft by Ginger Summit
and Jim Widess is an excellent resource that covers the stated
topics for the introduction of this project.
- Discuss the different types of gourds with
the students by discussing the different characteristics and the
uses of each type: basket, bottle, dipper, trough, etc. Descriptions
and pictures of each of these can be found in the book The Complete
Book of Gourd Craft.
- I have also purchased numerous gourds from
a variety of sources that I share with my students so that they can
see and hold the actual gourds. To be able to see and handle the
actual gourds certainly helps the students conceptualize the project
requirements. I have South American, African, as well as unpainted
gourds that are available from local gourd growers or can be found
on the internet. Crizmac, www.crizmac.com, is a wonderful source for
multi-cultural products and materials and is where I have purchased
many of the gourds. Fortunately gourds are very durable and survive
the rigors of children handling them.
- One particular technique that I found
interesting during my research into gourd art was an ancient
technique that was used in a variety of cultures and in particular
African cultures was Pyrography. This is an engraving method using
super heated knives to decorate the exterior of the gourds. Due to
safety reasons we were not able to use this process instead we used
black tempera paint to mimic the engraving process.
- The students were instructed to design
their gourds on paper including the shape of the gourd and
decorative design as a plan for building and painting their gourds.
The students were required to design a pattern based on traditional
African designs, we studied a variety of resources including African
Designs from Traditional Sources by Geoffrey Williams, to help them
develop a geometric pattern using line and repetitive patterns that
would also incorporate nature into the design.
- Utilizing a cardboard cone armature helped
give the gourd a solid skeleton and foundation. I wanted these
gourds to sit upright and to also show the variety of shapes that
are available, because the cones come in different heights we were
able to build many of the different shapes that we had studied. I
had precut all of the newspaper by ripping each page into fourths so
that the students had an appropriately sized piece of newspaper to
work with. We then rolled the edges of the newspaper around the
outside edge until we had a pillowed piece and secured to the cone
armature with masking tape.
The students continued working around the cone layering the pillowed
newspaper onto the cone and taping them into place developing rather
quickly the puffy shape of the gourd. If the students wanted to make
bottle gourds we used smaller pieces of newspaper wrapping masking
tape around the area that was meant to be indented on the gourd.
Some students even added additional height to their gourd by
wrapping their newspaper into a long cylindrical shape and taping it
to the top of the cone as if it had a long neck.
- It was now time to paper mache´ the
gourds, I chose to use brown craft paper and art paste to complete
this process. The brown craft paper is sturdier than newsprint and
took less coats to complete as well as provided a more organic look
to the gourd, I also prefer to use art paste as it keeps for a very
long time in the made up form and creates a very smooth surface to
paint on. I stressed the importance of smoothing the paper mache´
onto the surface and securing it to the inside bottom of the cone
for an even look to the piece.
- Using gold metallic gloss tempera and
brown gloss tempera double load the sponge and pounce onto the
outside of the gourd. This changed the look of the exterior of the
gourd from the flat brown craft paper to a rich subtle texture which
contrasted nicely with the black tempera paint added in the next
- After the gourds were dry we sketched the
preplanned design onto the outside of the gourd and began painting
the lines and patterns with small round brushes or script liners
using black tempera and adding color only when we thought that it
was necessary for interest and contrast. The color that the students
were allowed to use was limited to the primary colors and White in
an attempt to stay true to the ancient technique. After the painting
process was complete the students were allowed to glue beans and
seeds to their gourds as well.
Teacher observation and record keeping.
Christy Hartman 2007