Gourd Terms and Definitions

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Illustrates relationships of shapes, forms, colors, and textures without using recognizable images.


Accessories or Embellishments

Any material that is added to the crafted gourd to compliment and complete the exhibit.


American Southwest Designs

Designs that incorporate western landscape, flora, fauna, ranching, and cowboy motifs. (See also Native American Designs.)


Artificial or Man-made Accessories/Embellishments

Any material that is added to the crafted gourd that is not natural, such as artificial flowers, plastics, manufactured items. (See also Natural Accessories.)


Artificial Sinew

A waxed nylon imitation of natural sinew (animal tendon) used in beading; sometimes used in place of cotton thread. Artificial sinew will be allowed on all entries.



A support or stand that holds a gourd at the proper angle or position. It may be metal, wood or a manufactured turn-table but the base will not be considered an accessory of the crafted gourd.



A gourd with the top cut off and a carrying handle attached or cut so that part of the gourd remains to function as a handle.



The technique of using beads to apply a design to gourds. Beads may be set in beeswax, embedded in recessed holes, or strung and wrapped around or sewn into the gourd. Beads are made of plastic, glass and/or natural material, i.e. shell, wood, clay or seeds. 



A gourd with the top cut off (or some portion of it cut off) to give the appearance of a container. Bowls are wider than they are tall.



Using a flame (i.e., small torch) to char or change the color of the gourd surface (See also Pyrography/Woodburning.)



The removal of a portion of the outer surface of the shell of a gourd, exposing the undersurface to create a design or texture in relief; usually done with a power tool.


Chip Carving

Carving done with gouging tools to “chip” out small pieces of gourd to create a pattern or design on the surface of the gourd.


Clay Embellishment

The use of clay to add a three-dimensional design to the surface of the gourd.


Clear Finish

Any finish, such as varnish, shellac, wax or oil, which enhances the overall appearance of the gourd but adds no color (except the slight natural darkening that may occur).



Use of pine needles or grasses (or other natural materials), wrapped and held in place by thread (or raffia) to cover rims of bowls or create designs on gourds.


(Open, Closed, Floating) Technique involves the use of a core and a binder material for wrapping and/or stitching the core material to the gourd or a previous row of coiling. Materials used to create coiling include pine needles, philodendron sheaths, long grasses, twisted paper, cotton rope, etc. Binder materials commonly used are artificial sinew, waxed linen, and embroidery floss. 



Using any medium that adds to, enhances, or changes the natural appearance of the gourd’s surface. Some examples of color media are stains, dyes, inks, oil pastel pencils, crayons, colored pencils, felt-tip pens, acrylic paints, oil paints, watercolors, colored waxes, etc.


Covered Container

A cut gourd with a cover or lid. The cover may be cut from the gourd, made from another gourd piece, or made from some other natural material.


Cut Gourd

Cutting all the way through the gourd shell creating a hole or opening (as opposed to surface cuts as in carving).  The cut or openings are incorporated into the design.


Dried Gourd

The natural, mature, hollow, dried shell of a Gourd.



Refers to artistic treatment on a gourd, not its functionality. For example, a “decorative gourd pitcher” would look like a pitcher but could not actually function as a pitcher. (See also Functional.)


Embellishment / Accessories

Any material that is added to the gourd to enhance the overall design and appearance of the gourd. (See also Artificial Accessories and Natural Accessories.)



An intricate, interlaced decorative design (of holes or other shapes) that is cut into and through the shell of the gourd; usually done with power tools.



Can be used—for example, a gourd pitcher that actually holds water and has a functional spout and handle.


Gourd Construction

The use of gourds and gourd pieces to build or construct a gourd art project. (See also Sculpture.)



Manipulating the shape of a gourd as it grows by bending, twisting, or binding the developing gourd so that its natural shape is altered. (See also Molded.)


Hardshell Gourds

Have “white blossoms” and cure as hard, woody shells. Includes varieties such as bird house, bottle, dipper, canteen, kettle, cannon ball, etc. (See also Ornamental gourd.)



The process of embedding beads in wax creating a design on the surface or interior of the gourd. (See also Beading.)



The application of material (such as beads, egg shell, wire, stones, etc) into a carved groove or carved section of a gourd.


Man-made Accessories/Embellishments

See Artificial Accessories.



Material used for artistic expression, such as paint, dye, ink, etc.



Manipulating the shape of a gourd as it grows by placing the developing gourd in a mold, container, or restrictive structure.



Execution of a design on a gourd by setting small tile (glass, ceramic, or gourd pieces) into an adhesive medium on the surface, recessed surface, or interior of the gourd.


Native American Designs

Designs that incorporate cultural, tribal, historical, or ceremonial motifs of Native American origin or use. (See also American Southwest Designs.)


Natural Accessories

Any material that is added to the crafted gourd that is natural. Examples include linen/cotton thread, dried plant materials, grasses, pine needles, seeds, pods, shells, stones, bone, sand, wool, feathers, clay, and metal.


Ornamental Gourds

Have “yellow blossoms,” often warty and convoluted surfaces, and small-sized colorful fruits that are thin-shelled; includes varieties such as egg, crown-of-thorns, spinners, etc.



Burning a design (lines and shading) on a gourd with the use of an electric pyrography/woodburning tool.



The word “predominate” (when used in a Competition Class description to indicate the amount of medium or technique to be used on the crafted gourd) means that the majority of the crafted gourd surface should exhibit the required medium or technique.



The joining or combining of multiple gourds and/or gourd pieces is classified as gourd “sculpture.” The terms “gourd sculpture,” “gourd assemblage” and “gourd art construction” mean the same thing.


A gourd with the top cut off (or some portion of it cut off) to give the appearance of a container. A vase is taller than it is wide.



Any piece of gourd art that is designed to hang on a wall for view—as opposed to gourd art that is free-standing and can be viewed from all sides.



Interlacing various materials attached to the gourd, such as grasses, cords, natural fibers, etc.


Whole gourd

An uncut gourd whose shell is intact; no cuts, carving or holes.


Gourd Society questions? Contact: Madonna Watermon, SMGS president

 SMGS Website questions? Contact: Lynda Roberson



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