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Barbara Fast

Gourd crafts and basketry


Working with both gourds and baskets involves using similar techniques. In either case, the final effect is limited only by the artist’s creativity

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I worked for thirty years as a Pediatric Surgeon. Before retiring I took some classes in both basket making and embellishing hard-shell gourds. When I retired in 2007 I envisioned becoming a gourd artist. After moving to Point Arena I observed that there was a cute building in downtown Point Arena that would be perfect for an art gallery.  With the help of Ling-Yen Jones, I founded the Coast Highway Artists’ Collective in 2012. Since then I have enjoyed working in a variety of artistic mediums including felting, embellished hard shell gourds, and basket making.

There are multiple steps to embellishing a gourd.  First attention must be paid to the shape of the gourd to achieve the desired effect. Then the outside of the gourd must be cleaned before it is cut open using a gourd saw.  After the inside has been scraped clean, the outer shell can be stained or painted. I like to finish the cut edge by sewing on one of a variety of cords including coiled sea grass. Further embellishments such as beads, and feathers can be added. Sometimes an antler or driftwood can be attached, but it is important to realize that the attached object may be heavier than the gourd so it can pull the gourd over if not properly attached.

A traditional ribbed basket starts with a hoop to which ribs are added. The middle and strongest rib is attached to the hoop by a God’s Eye of woven reed. Additional ribs of smaller round reed are inserted into the God’s Eye. The hardest part of making the basket is keeping the ribs in place until enough weaving has been done to hold them in place. They tend to “pop out” and have to be re-inserted over and over again. The contour of the basket is created by adjusting the length of additional ribs until a rounded bottom has been achieved. Many different materials can be used to weave around the ribs; favored weavers include coiled sea grass. A handle can be added to a finished basket. Antlers make perfect handles, but they can be challenging because antlers weigh so much more than the basket that they must be balanced perfectly so they don’t tip the basket over.  Antlers by themselves are beautiful, but they can be embellished by wrapping them with leather or yarn and adding shells or stones.

Directions to Studio #24 at 40885 Mountain View Road, Manchester From the intersection of Mountain View Road with Highway 1 go 2.7 miles up Mountain View Road to 40885, on the right.

Studio Tour Hours

August 26 & 27 September 2-4

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.



Cell Phone:  707-386-9894

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