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Visit the Gorgeous Gourds studio throughout the year—Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:00 am to Noon. Usually open, please call ahead. Other times by appointment.
Roberta Cooper, Gourd Artist
Simplicity. Elegance. Who knew that a messy, gunky looking gourd could become a lovely work of art?
I was inspired by the work of a gourd artist exhibiting at Port Gamble in 2003. She showed me the basics when I went to her studio. I got books from the library, bought books (lots of them!) and was on my way! I already had tools from working with metals so I bought what I needed for working with gourds. (Love those tools!!)
I use a soapy bleach wash to scrub the field debris and outer skin off the gourd. It is now ready for its journey of transformation. I favor a simplicity of design–gently curving lines inspired by nature, as in a creek meandering through a meadow, waving fields of wheat. I cut the gourd open, remove the seeds and dried pulp and grind the inside down to the hard gourd shell. Now I get to go wild with my imagination to embellish it. I use transparent ink dyes to let the natural markings show through. I attach various natural materials: pine needles, antlers, cones from deodar cedar (look like “wooden roses”), red twig osier, weeping willow. (Not all on one gourd!) I love the contrast of textures and colors. Add a little bling–shiny beads or a sheen of metallic spray paint–and, Voila! A lovely work of art!
One of my favorite embellishments is a pine needle rim. Some visitors from North Carolina came to my studio during the 2011 Studio Tour. When they saw my gourds with the pine needle rims they said “We have pine straw.” They sent some to me after they returned home. Pine straw–gorgeous reddish hued, 15 inch long pine needles!! Beautiful to work with. Sweet memories of their visit to my studio.
When I am in my studio working on a gourd, I become so absorbed in the process I lose track of time. As I finish for the day I feel refreshed. It feeds my soul.
I will be exhibiting my gourds:
The Cutting Garden
303 Dahlia Llama Lane
Saturday & Sunday Labor Day Weekend, 10 am- 5 pm
SEE MORE WORK AT:
TO REACH ROBERTA:
Roberta Cooper lives with her husband and two cats just a half mile from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. During the pandemic, the neighborhood became her “gym and meditation center” with walking to the water and sitting on the driftwood log on the shores of Jamestown Beach.
Roberta was born in Milford, Nebraska, a loooong time ago. In 4-H she always had a sewing project and continued that line of creativity for many years. In 1966 she moved to Houston, Texas to participate in a post graduate program at Baylor University College of Medicine. She then worked at NASA Spacecraft Center during the time the United States put a man on the moon.
She moved to California in 1972 where she had a teacher who surprised her by calling her an artist. Little did she know she would soon become an emerging artist. Upon returning to Houston in 1974 she took pottery classes and then metalsmithing classes. When she worked at Baylor in 1977 she entered her first juried art show and won an award for her entry. Metalsmithing is a very exacting medium. Wanting to continue her creativity in a softer medium, she started working with gourds in 2004. When a design didn’t work, she simply re-cut the gourd and went with Plan B! Gourds offered a lot of flexibility in design and ease of completion of the work of art. And the array of colors for staining the gourds, awesome!!
2004-2005 Indiana State Gourd Convention, Gourd Art
1974-1976 P. M. Limited School, Houston, TX, Fabrication
1974 Museum of Fine Arts School, Houston, TX, Ceramics
EXHIBITIONS AND AWARDS:
2011-2013 Sequim Arts Studio Tour
2011 Embracing Life Through Art…The Journey Back
2011 Northwind Art Center, “Into The Woods” A Juried Show Merit Award for “Needles & Beads & Gourds, Oh My!”
2010 People’s Choice, A Juried Show Of Small Format Artworks Merit Award for “Eggplant Hourglass”
2010 Port Angeles Waterfront Festival
2009-2010 Lavender Festival, Jardin du Soleil
2009 Sequim Arts Member Show — 2nd Place, People’s Choice
2005-2006 Port Gamble Arts Festival
1980 University of Houston Downtown College 2-Person Show — Donald Fox, Roberta Cooper
1978 The Shed Invitational Exhibition, Houston, TX
1977 Interpretations 6 — Juried Art & Photography Show Baylor University College of Medicine, Houston, TX First Award — Crafts
Bluewater Artworks, Poulsbo, WA
Olympic Gallery, Quilcene, WA
1980-1982 The Boardwalk Gallery, Houston, TX
1978-1983 Archway Gallery, Houston, TX