When I think of fall I think of Falling leaves, pumpkins, Halloween and gourds. When most people think of gourds in the fall they think of ornamental gourds, the small colorful gourds one finds at produce stands and supermarket aisles in the fall. While these small yellow, green and orange gourds are wonderful arranged in a bowl and placed on a table as an autumn decoration, I am referring to hard shell gourds used to create scary Halloween decorations.
Hard shell gourds are just that. Gourds that grow and when finished growing do not rot; instead when dried become hard as wood and last for years. Hard shell gourds have been grown, dried and used around the world and through the centuries for everything from carrying water to decorative masks.
Gourds make wonderful one of a kind Halloween masks and decorations. Why decorate with plastic and paper Halloween decorations when for the same amount of money spent one can have not only the scariest decorations in the neighborhood but what may also be considered a work of art?
Here’s how to turn a hard shell gourd into skeleton head decoration.
First choose your gourd. Hard shell gourds can be purchased at the local Farmer’s Market, from a gourd farmer (go online to www.americangourdsociety.org for a list of farmers in your state) or ordered online. I usually suggest purchasing a cleaned gourd because cleaning the mold and dirt from a hard shell gourd is so messy, but for this project the dirty and disgusting the better.
The gourd in the picture is a small kettle gourd. These gourds grow to be quite large, often the size of a bushel basket. Other gourds work just as well, but the best skulls are made from gourds that have a large round shape with a smaller round for the chin.
If ordering online talk to the gourd grower and explain what you are looking for so they can find the best possible gourd for your project. Again for this project un cleaned gourds are better then cleaned gourds.
Next cut the gourd in half length wise. This can be done with a dremil tool, a jig saw or an exacto knife. When finished you will have two skull bases to work with. Next add the features. I choose to use a hole saw to cut round eyes in the head, but again this could be done with the dremil or a knife.
The nose can be cut in a round shape or a triangle. Add a mouth with teeth, some of the teeth missing works best. Add a few scars if you like or leave as is.
The skull can be left natural as the one in the picture or can be colored with acrylic paint, and varnished with clear coat spray. Cut two holes on either side of the skull then attach
a piece of cord for hanging on the wall.