How to Decorate Birdhouse Gourds


Contrary to its name, the birdhouse gourd (Lageneria siseraria) is not just used for birdhouses. Gourd enthusiasts value the birdhouse gourd for its thick, sturdy skin, round bowl and elongated stem, all characteristics that make it ideal for decorating. Just like other gourd species, birdhouse gourds must be completely cured before you begin decorating them. Hearing the seeds rattling inside is your sign that your birdhouse gourd is completely dried and ready for crafting. Develop a clear idea of exactly how you want to decorate your birdhouse gourd ahead of time so you can be prepared when your gourd is cured.

Step 1

Clean your birdhouse gourds. Scrub the outside of your gourd with a metal scrub brush and hot, soapy water to remove remaining traces of mold. Pay special attention to grooves around the base of the stem where mold may be more difficult to scrub off.

Step 2

Rub lightly with a sheet of sandpaper to sand off any stubborn mold stains that you couldn't remove through scrubbing. Remove just enough skin to get rid of the mold stains. Remove any remaining mold spores by dipping your birdhouse gourd in a bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water).

Step 3

Sketch your planned design onto your birdhouse gourd's skin using a pencil. Decide whether you plan to paint, woodburn or carve your birdhouse gourd. If you're working with gourds for the first time, consider keeping your design simple; this will help you get used to working with gourds without feeling too pressured to produce elaborate designs. Practicing first on a sample gourd is also a good idea, especially if you're planning on woodburning or carving your birdhouse gourd.

Step 4

Carve your birdhouse gourd. According to Mickey Baskett, author of "Glorious Gourd Decorating," popular gourd carving options include baskets, purses and birdhouses. Perforate the tough skin of your birdhouse gourd with a craft knife, then use a mini jigsaw to do the rest of your carving. Push the mini jigsaw blade against the gourd skin lightly to avoid getting the blade stuck and burning out the motor.

Step 5

Burn designs into your birdhouse gourd using a woodburner. Hold the woodburner like a pencil, moving your hand slowly as you follow your pre-marked design; keep the woodburner moving at all times when it's in contact with your gourd to keep it from scorching the gourd. Mickey Baskett suggests that you turn the gourd as you work in order to maintain maximum control of the woodburner tip.

Step 6

Paint your birdhouse gourd. Prime your gourd with a base coat of acrylic paint. Let the base coat dry completely before you begin painting your design. Work slowly, painting with small strokes and turning the gourd by the top of its stem as you paint. Try to incorporate the shape of the gourd into your artwork, such as using the elongated neck as the nose for a gourd caricature face.

Step 7

Seal your gourd with a coat of acrylic varnish. Use a sponge brush to apply the varnish evenly around the entire surface of your birdhouse gourd.

Tips and Warnings

  • Exercise care when carving or woodburning your birdhouse gourd to reduce your chances of getting cut or burned by the tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Birdhouse gourd
  • Metal scrub brush
  • Hot water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Sandpaper
  • Bleach
  • Pencil
  • Craft knife
  • Mini jigsaw
  • Woodburner
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Acrylic varnish
  • Sponge brush


  • "Glorious Gourd Decorating;" Mickey Baskett; 2005
Keywords: gourd crafts, garden crafts, decorating birdhouse gourds

About this Author

Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A freelance copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. During her time with Demand Studios, Hennessy has produced content for Ehow, Answerbag and Travels. Hennessy graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.