Dried gourds provide a natural canvas to a variety of craft projects. Cut a hole in the gourd for a decorative birdhouse, or paint scenes on gourds and use them in an indoor or outdoor seasonal displays. Growing your own gourds for art projects gives you a variety of gourd shapes and colors to work with, from the distinctive bottleneck gourd to the near-perfect oval shape of the calabash gourd. Gourds must be dried prior to painting, otherwise they will rot and become useless.
Wash the outside of the gourd with lukewarm water and a soft-bristled brush, removing any dirt or soil from the garden. Combine one part bleach with nine parts water and rinse the gourds in the solution, which kills any bacteria that can lead to rot during drying.
Spread the gourds out in a warm, well-ventilated area that does not receive bright light. Set gourds so they do not touch each other. Rotate the gourds every five to seven days during the drying period so that all sides dry evenly.
Check the gourds for dryness after three weeks. Fully dried gourds are hard to the touch and the seeds rattle inside when you shake the gourd. Depending on variety, drying may take between three weeks and three months.
Painting the Gourd
Drill a 1/4-inch hole through the narrowest point on the gourd. Thread a 6-inch length of wire through the hole and twist the ends together to form a hanging loop.
Sketch your design on the gourd with a pencil before painting. Pencil allows room for mistakes, as you cannot remove paint from a gourd once it has dried.
Paint the design on one side of the gourd with acrylic or oil-based paints. Allow the paint to dry completely then paint the back of the gourd if desired.
Hang the gourd from the wire loop. Spray the entire gourd with clear acrylic sealer to protect the painted surface. Alternatively, apply a clear shellac with a paintbrush.
About this Author
Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.