Beginning Tutorial for Beaded Gourds.

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

This is gourd beading 101

For those of you interested in learning the art form of the Huichol Indians taken to another level.

I have chosen to use a gourd vs an emu egg simply because the emu egg I had is cracked. Please be cautious when applying the wax to your
emu eggs. They can't take as much pressure as the gourds or ostrich eggs.

I am going to do a partial design vs covering the entire gourd for this demo.

I am going to make a Valentine gourd for a friend if I can complete it in time otherwise it will just be a gift from my heart.
I am going to use a design that I used in a punch needle work that I did.

This is the design I am planing on using but everything changes as I go along.

Starting materials.
Beading surface, gourd, egg, jar, etc
Beeswax sheets
spoon or door knob, depending on size of surface. ( I am going to be using a teaspoon for now. )
and either a dampened sponge or your tongue. Yep. DNA abounds here.

So Lets get going.

Make sure that your surface is free of all oils or dirt. I suggest wiping it off with some alcohol and let it dry.

If your room temp is too cool you will need to warm your wax pieces in your hands as you work so that it bonds better to the surface
Begin with small pieces, about the size of the palm of your hand.
Push the wax on, applying pressure so that the wax adheres to the surface.

Get your dampened sponge or your saliva ready.
After you apply the first sheet, press it down securing it to the surface with your warm
hands and apply about two or three pieces, over lapping each edge so that it blends in
with the first piece.
It is better if you don't use a straight edge, so I tear pieces off. Apply a couple pieces and
once you feel that they are adhered to the surface begin removing the combs with the back
of the dampened spoon. Either lick it or dampen it but it must be wet or the wax will
stick to it and it will pull it off.

Once you have an area covered and the combs are removed then you can continue to apply
the wax until you have the entire surface area that you plan on creating covered with wax.
It is best to have two layers so that when you apply your beads they have a better surface
to adhere to.

If you plan on sculpting designs into your piece you still need to have two layers on the bottom.

On to the next post for more pics

This message was edited Nov 15, 2013 5:25 PM

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Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

More pics
If you look closely you can see where the combs have been removed with the back of the spoon. You need
to do this or when you begin to sculpt your layers will be uneven and make it more difficult. You will see
this in the next class on Sculpting your waxed piece.

If you will notice in the last picture there are no visible combs.

I am needing to take a break and this is why

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Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

Sorry, somehow got a duplicate of previous photos plus Baxter demanding to be taken for a walk.

This message was edited Jan 15, 2013 2:26 PM

This message was edited Jan 15, 2013 2:30 PM

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Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

Gourd beading 101, Continued.

Once you have completed applying the first layer, you need to go back and apply a second layer.
This is very important as you need to have at least two layers as you will be applying beads for the
back ground of your piece.
I have done a basic sketch of what I plan on doing. Some folks ask why don't I just draw on the gourd?
Well as soon as you apply the wax the drawing is gone. So you are going to have to sort of play
it by ear and do a free hand application of your design.

Once the second layer is applied and the combs removed you can start to build up the area of your design.
As you can see from pictures of my Buffalo gourd that is still a WIP there is a double layer and then I start to
build up areas that will be sculpted back down. You will be removing the excess wax from your sculpted area.
But I don't want to get ahead of myself so lets get the first two layers on and then we will build up your design area. I go back
and forth between the door knob and the spoon. You can use anything that works for you to do your sculpting but just be sure
to dampen it as it will pull up the wax.

I have built up two layers and am now preceding to create the bird and on top of the bird, a house. See my sketch


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Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

Now these are two of my partially beaded gourds which is what I am going to do with this one.,

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Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

I am waiting for the house to warm up a bit before I start again. You will find that it is very very difficult to work with the wax when it is cold. Sometimes if you will put your wax sheets near a heat source just until they are more malleable, able to be molded under your hands and spoon.

I hope you will all let me know how you are doing with this and ask any questions through Dmail.

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

I am continuing to build up layers of wax that I can then sculpt away to achieve the design that I am working towards.

Take you time with this but know that if it isn't what you want You can scrape it away and start again.

Continue to push out the combs as you go along. You will find that if you forget to remove the combs, when you get ready to start to
apply the beads they will go deep into the wax and be lost. Even then its not a major disaster, you just have to add more wax.

When I was sculpting the lions on my African Gourd, I did three different applications. Thats what comes from being a perfectionist. That is also
why it took me 2 1/2 years to complete. After removing the lioness for the second time, I put it up on a shelf with the Elephant facing out saying
" Come finish Me" . Eventually I did.

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

Moving right along. No hurry. Still waiting to hear from anyone.
When you are sculpting you can use what ever tool works for you. I use butter knives, alls, spoons but just remember to dampen any tool you are using or it will pull the wax up.

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Dahlonega, GA

Wonderful to see ypur work again ,after so long . You rock , girl .

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

How are you all doing so far?
Has anyone started the wax application yet?
Please post your pics and conversations on other posting other then questions regarding this process. I would like to hear if you are having problems or anything that is keeping you from going forward.

Elfie @ Goodwater,, AL(Zone 7b)

I got my box from you today and will be starting on the wax tonight. Thanks so much,,,

in Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I have started covering my Emu egg with wax. I have one layer on and starting the second tonight. I will send photo tomorrow. I heated up the spoon a little to help me smooth out the wax on the egg. I hope that is alright. I was afraid to push to hard on the egg . Is it alright to do that Jan? If not please let me know. OOPs I forgot I was suppose to sent this through dMail.

This message was edited Jan 18, 2013 7:32 PM

This message was edited Jan 18, 2013 7:32 PM

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

Did you warm the wax before you put it on? Also licking the back of the spoon helps to smooth it. What ever works for you. Just Don't heat the wax in the Microwave. Warm two towels and place the sheet between the towels just till its bendable with out breaking.

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

No problem Rose. I would prefer any questions to actually go on the tutorial as others may have the same question and we can answer it once.

in Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I pressed the wax on the egg with the spoon like you instructed .The smoothed it out as best as I could . Then I take the spoon,and heat it over a gas flame to help smooth the wax out. I used large tablespoon with insulated handled. Now I am looking for items to help in carving wax. I am having fun.

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

Before you start carving you will need to build up the areas that you will be carving back like I have done here. If you want the 3 dimensional effect you need to build it up and then carve it back down. I use an awl for a lot of my carving and spoons and what ever it takes to get the right effect that I am trying to achieve.
There is no set way of doing this and you do what ever you want to achieve the design that you are working on.
Patti are you doing the humming bird?
For the wings to give them more dimension, you may want to build up a couple of tiny layers then push or mold them down towards the body. You can then draw line in it to define the viens in the wings and use the color of the beads to define them. Just suggestions, you do what you want.

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Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

This was my very first attempt at beading a gourd. I grew this one and didn't want to cut it open or mess with the whole gourd so I decided to bead it. It was a southwestern design with the lizard made of turquoise chips going around the top and the clouds and mountains of the desert. The circular design was of my own design. As you can see there wasn't a lot of the 3D that are in my later pieces with the exception of the lizard.

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(Linda Kay) Del Rio, TX(Zone 9a)

Jan, your work is amazing! What got you into beading gourds?

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

I saw a gourd bowl that was beaded on the inside by Huichol Indians. That was the beginning.
Check out this site. These are all Huichol Indian art pieces

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

I am going to start beading my piece. I will go slow as slow is the pace of this beading project. If you have any questions, regarding what I am doing or regarding something to do with your own project, please don't hesitate to ask. It won't look like much when you start but as you add the different shades and hues to give your work dimension is will start coming together.

Dahlonega, GA

I doubt that I'll ever have the patience to try this but will follow every word as you go along . Fascinating .

Elfie @ Goodwater,, AL(Zone 7b)

As soon as I can get my room warmed up I am going to start my wax. To day is crafting day for me. My DH is working a double shift so I can do what ever I like today!!

I have several projects to work on so it will be a full day.

(Linda Kay) Del Rio, TX(Zone 9a)

Come on Sandy, if we can figure this out, you can too!

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

***You gals are so funny. As soon as my upstairs studio warms up I will start beading. I have also found that a hair dryer held at a distance will help to warm up the wax. You absolutely have to have the wax warm where you will be beading or the beads will either break or pop out. Keep your hand on the area that you are beading, this helps a lot.

Another way would be to lay a pillowcase or something over it and then lay a heating pad on it for a bit.

***(TIP) When you are trying to pick up your beads with your TAMJ and they keep dropping off, stick your TAMJ in the wax so it has a little coating on it and the beads won't drop off so easily.*** I promise that you will have a bunch of beads on the floor before this is all done. No way to avoid it that I know of. Hheheh

This message was edited Jan 20, 2013 3:05 PM

(Linda Kay) Del Rio, TX(Zone 9a)

Great tip Jan, thanks!

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)


I think of these as I am going along and if you take the time to read them, they will be of great help and make your beading experience more enjoyable.

*If you have some colored wax, you can use it to enhance the color of your transparent beads in a couple of areas like the mountain stream. It will definitely change the color of the bead if it is a transparent bead but that is good in some instances as it will give you a darker hue with out having to change bead color. Taters if you can't find a deep enough purple use some purple wax and if you bead is transparent it will be darker.

*when you are removing the bead from your tamj, use your thumb nail to push it off.

*If the beads are breaking when you are applying them, then the wax is too cold or you are pushing your tamj to hard into the wax. Just get the bead set in the wax and remove it with your thumbnail. Then go back and push the bead in with the back of the spoon. I usually wait till I have an area about the size of a quarter before I set the beads.

*If you should break a bead, be sure to remove all the broken pieces.

*After you have done an area of about a quarter or fifty cent piece smooth it out with the back of the spoon so that they are all set in the wax. The wax will come up through the hole and hold them on.

*There is no set way to apply your beads, in other words start where you want and jump around if you get bored working in one area. If you are beading your piece from bottom to top, THEN you have to complete the bottom first for obvious reasons.

Here are a couple of pic's of what I am doing between watching the 49r's and the Falcons. Patriots and Ravens coming up next. heheh

*It helps to pic up your beads if your surface is either velvet or felt with a foam core backing. That way the tamj can poke into the bead with out it falling off. Remember to stick your tamj in the wax every now and then so that the beads will stick on the tip without falling off


This message was edited Jan 21, 2013 9:27 AM

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Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

I'm waiting to see some pictures so far??? Questions?? Comments... Keep them coming

(Linda Kay) Del Rio, TX(Zone 9a)

Just reading so far, love all the tips your posting. As soon as I can get quiet time, with hubby at work tomorrow, I will start working on mine.

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

This is some pic's of my beaded Swordfish Bill. It has a mother whale with baby, jelly fish, sea turtle, treasure chest, coral walls on side, sunset and waves at the top.

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(Linda Kay) Del Rio, TX(Zone 9a)

Wow! That is beautiful! Lots of beads too!

Elfie @ Goodwater,, AL(Zone 7b)

Just finished putting 3 coats of wax on my surface. Will start sculpting in the morning. I learned that it was easy to work the wax right in front of my small space heater. It was hard to do at first, but then as I adapted to the wax it was much easier.

I am going to enjoy this.

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

Oh thats great Kris. I am sure you will all find out what works best for you but I am here for any questions. Once you get to the sculpting and beading part, you are pretty much on your own. I mean you will find what works for you.
You do want to be sure to place the beads side by side as close as you can get them.
This photo shows just how close you should get the beads to each other.
You will find as you are beading that wax will squeeze up between the beads and you will want to sort of pick that away.
I will see if I can show you what I mean on this.

This other cute photo shows what we need to do every now and then.

This message was edited Jan 22, 2013 9:10 AM

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(Linda Kay) Del Rio, TX(Zone 9a)

Love that last picture Jan! Love the idea of a table tent party!

Dahlonega, GA

Gourd , talking about getting beads everywhere , why wouldn't a board for a work surface , be good on top of one of those trays that is used for catching glass shards work ? Kris included one for me to use (When I get around to it ) with I start cutting glass . It has numerous little squares to catch beads . Kris , maybe you can post a picture of one in case anyone doesn't understand what I'm talking about .

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

If you have a piece of fabric especially like Velvet they don't roll everywhere. You can pour a few out and they stay right there. Now if you attach that piece of fabric to a piece of foam core, when you push your TAMJ down to pic up a bead it helps to push it onto the pin. Take my word for it, I have tried many different things and this is the one thing that works.

As far as a work surface. A pillow or a soft surface maybe a piece of foam like from a pillow, just to keep your piece from rolling around unless of course it is flat, If it is a flat surface then a soft flat surface with a tray like you say with some fabric in it to catch the beads would be great. Beads are like BB's they roll all over and you will probably lose more then you actually use unless you want to pick them up continuously.

As you can see in the last photo, my peice is sitting on top of a pillow. I have great control over it that way and I can adjust it as necessary. If I were to have it on a flat surface it would be hard to work on the bottom areas.

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Dahlonega, GA

Gotcha !

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

I hope that I don't disappoint anyone, but I have decided that since I am back into doing some beading, I should be working on my White Buffalo gourd, so.... from here on out, I will be demonstrating on the big guns. heheh

(Linda Kay) Del Rio, TX(Zone 9a)

No disappointment here!

Toledo, OR(Zone 8a)

Okay Gang, I am going to be working on the big gourd starting today,

When you are working diligently and having to go back and forth form your work to the beads, even a little distance can seem too far.
I found that by lining the inside of a small plastic lid with some wax and making a few dividers to keep the colors separate and then poking a push pin through the middle and then poking it into the wax on the piece I am working on makes my life a bit easier. See the picture below

I am going to begin by trying to finish my poor wolf. I have to work on this with my piece upside down, because I jumped around before finishing the bottom. I know better but I got impatient. I still have a lot to complete on the bottom of this gourd. This is another entirely covered gourd. The gourd measure 42" around the outside. Its a very big gourd.

Keep the pictures coming and the questions too.

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in Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I been busy this week at work . I am still watching forum ,and will play catch up over weekend.

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