Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Craft (as in handcraft) (02/08/07)
TITLE: GOOD GRIEF, THEY'RE GOURDS!
By Mariane Holbrook
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Because I DO do crafts!
I’ve done them all: from making string pot holders on a metal frame in grade school to making the ugliest ceramic Egyptian urns since God rained down urns on a stubborn Pharaoh; I’ve done them all.
But the craft that nearly cost my marriage was when I decided to grow and paint gourds.
Stop laughing! Gourds have an intriguing history but it’s so boring even I won’t even go there.
Suffice it to say that gourds for centuries have been used for rattles, drums, stringed instruments, masks, water bottles, ladles, dippers, funnels, and birdhouses. Well, at least you can’t say that about string pot holders!
Having tried every craft that came down the pike and considering Carol Duvall my personal patron saint, it was inevitable that sooner or later I would stumble onto gourds.
Driving down the highway one Saturday, I saw a sign welcoming us to the “Apex Gourd Museum.” I slammed on my brakes, backed up and entered the driveway of the most interesting gourd museum I’d ever visited and likely the only gourd museum in existence.
I was hooked before I even got inside. Gourds from every part of the world were stacked, hung, piled. boxed and displayed in this strange museum.
I went home and corned my long-suffering husband, John.
“Honey, I have an idea for the biggest money-making adventure I’ve ever attempted, “ I raved.
John rubbed his eyes and yawned. “Well, even if you made a whole dollar on this one, you’d be way ahead of all your other attempts.”
Before he could rattle off a list of my “less-than-successfuls,” I hurried to my computer and Googled my way through pages and pages of gourds. I wanted to be an expert. I wanted to make money. I wanted to be name “Gourd Woman of the Year!”
I won’t go into the bribes or methods of persuasion I used on John. It wouldn’t be fittin.’
But soon I had him driving all over eastern North Carolina looking for gourds. To make a short, embarrassing story even shorter, I ended up buying over 200 large basketball-size gourds on which I painted everything from cartoon characters to still life to landscapes. I gave one to all my friends who displayed them only when they saw my car pull in their driveways.
So great was my passion for these ugly-turned-beautiful things that Reminisce magazine printed a story about them and displayed my picture with several of these monstrosities on a table before me. That was a few years ago and I still have two aunts who won’t speak to me, so embarrassed were they by this exploitation of a good family name.
I talked John into purchasing a $1500 tent, folding tables and chairs and a $450 entrance fee to a weekend craft fair in a neighboring city. Are you ready for this? Of the nearly 100,000 people who sashayed past my craft booth, I managed to sell one, that’s O.N.E. large painted gourd. It was to a friend and I sold it to her for half price.
John was delighted. Crestfallen though I was, I had to make this gourd idea work. So, back to the proverbial drawing board I rushed. “Aha,” I said to myself (since nobody else would listen), “I’ve been painting the wrong size gourd!”
“John,” I purred in my best needy little kitten voice, “Will you help me plant a few gourd seeds?”
“NO!” he thundered. “Have you seen the bill for the breezeway that we made into a craft room for your gourds? Don’t even ask me to LOOK at a gourd seed let alone PLANT one.”
Like all good husbands, John can be sweet-talked. He ended up planting a half-acre of mini gourd seeds that produced several thousand mini gourds. We spread them out on an unused porch to dry in the semi-sun for four months, after which John scrubbed and bleached each one and I painted Santa faces on them.
I mailed one to Cracker-Barrel Restaurant and Gift Shop headquarters and immediately received an order for 3,500 Santa Christmas tree gourd ornaments which were sold out by October 1st. They ordered 5,000 more which I couldn’t possibly paint in time for Christmas. Besides, I was sick to death of gourds.
Driving to South Carolina last week, I saw a sign: MAKE MONEY WEAVING SEA GRASS BASKETS.
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