This gourd is couched with the reddish-brown sheaths that protect the emerging frond of the giant philodendron plant Their color and texture harmonize beautifully with the gourd surface.
WHAT YOU NEED
Gourd, cured and cleaned
Power or hand cutting tool
Neutral-colored shoe polish
Electric drill with 1/16-inch (1.5 mm) bit
or leather awl
Waxed linen thread
3 philodendron sheaths
2 jacaranda pods (or other pods)
WHAT YOU DO
1. Cut an opening in the gourd and remove the pulp and seeds. Sand smooth the interior and the cut edge. Apply several coats of neutral-colored shoe polish to the outside surface.
2. Draw a line on the shell where the materials are to be added and use the drill or leather awl to make holes along this line (see photo 1). When couching thin materials such as vine, insert the threaded needle through a hole, wrap the material, and then insert the needle through the same hole. When couching thicker materials such as these sheaths, make pairs of holes, one on either side of the line, so that you can hold the material flat against the gourd. Make only as many holes as are necessary to hold the material securely in place.
3. Soak the sheaths in water for about five minutes or until they are soft and pliable. Position a sheath against the gourd and hold it in place with masking tape. Pull the threaded needle through the first hole and bury the knot under the sheath. Bring the needle out of the hole on the opposite side of the sheath and enter the first hole again, pulling the thread taut to hold the sheath in place (see photo 2).
4. Continue to stitch the sheath stem to the gourd. Hold the second sheath in place with a bit of tape while you stitch it down (see photo 3). The distance between the stitches will vary depending on the material being added and the path along which it is being secured. You may need to reinforce the couching with a bit of glue if the material is particularly stiff or heavy.
5. Wrap the third sheath around the ends of the first two and then couch around the neck of the gourd (see photo 4). Tuck all of the cut ends under this third sheath. When the sheaths are dry, remove the tape; the flared ends will keep the positions in which they were taped.
6. Attach the two jacaranda pods to the sheath by wrapping linen thread around the pod stems and burying the ends under the sheath (see photo 4). Attach the beads with thread that is anchored in one of the holes.