Gourds are believed to be the earliest plant domesticated by man and have been in use for thousands of years. Many cultures have used gourds for functional as well as decorative purposes. Early man used gourds for boats, boat floats, musical instruments, bowls, containers, vessels, jewelry, dolls,hats, masks and body protection. The earliest gourds were decorated by using a hot stick to draw animals, people, and day to day life. Many gourds were decorated with spiritual images and were used in worship.
There are two main types of gourds. The soft shelled gourds or ornamental gourds that you see in the fall, are used for temporary decorations. On the other hand, hard shelled gourds, when dried, can last for many years and take on the characteristics of soft wood.
Because hard shelled gourds come in many shapes and sizes, there is no limit to the incredible possibilities of gourd art. I consider gourds to be nature's canvas and each gourd provides a unique opportunity to turn a plain, dirty gourd into a thing of beauty.