Step 1: Getting the Picture on the Gourd
2. Okay, you now have your gourd, right? Time to clean it. You'll need either a large enough bucket to comfortably dunk it into very warm, soapy water or a sink. I prefer a sink since I like to rinse as I go. I like to use aluminum scouring pads to scrub my gourds, especially if they're very dirty or have surface blemishes. Some people swear by copper scouring pads, some by plastic. I never had much luck with any kind of plastic cleaning device, but you'll have to experiment on your own to decide what works best for you.
3. Your gourd is now clean and shiny and dry. But wait, you've noticed some holes you couldn't see under all that dirt. They're probably bug bites that your gourd suffered while minding its own business out in the field. There are little green beetles that look like Martian ladybugs that love a gourd feast. They're probably your culprits, but it's too late now. You can fix this, however. You can use wood putty to fill in the holes; don't use too much, or you'll spend extra time sanding it off. It takes a couple of hours for this to dry, but a small fine sanding pad will remove the excess and leave your gourd's surface smooth.
4. Okay, okay, I know you're chomping at the gourd, I mean bit (that's the bug's job which they did nicely), to get started. Let's start crafting! You probably have your design ready to copy onto the gourd. Use a pencil to draw the design onto the gourd. I like the Ticonderoga brand since it has excellent erasers in case I change my mind while sketching. Draw your entire design onto the gourd, then when you're satisfied, go over it darker with your pencil. You want to be able to see it well when you start to burn it.
Step 2: Burning the Gourd
The cord that connects the tips to the unit is long and I usually wrap it once around the arm I use to burn with. It keeps the excess out of the way and helps with controlling the tips. The following picture reminded me of a couple of extra tips. Use a filter mask when you burn. The wood burners create smoke which is hazardous to your breathing. Also, I find when wood burning or painting, my pinky finger is a great tool to use to steady my hand (and it's always available). Be careful where you do this. Sparks can drop off of your gourd. Make sure you don't burn where this would be a bad thing. I had several drop onto my jeans and had to brush them off immediately. Nothing burned, but it pays to pay attention.
Step 3: Inking the Gourd
These ink dyes are great for gourds; they allow the underlying gourd surface to show through very subtly, but are really rich in color and blend well. If you catch a mistake right away, you can use baby wipes to wipe off unwanted color. A bit of paper towel blends the colors nicely. These inks don't show overlap the way leather dyes do.
I use an old gourd piece for a sampler for the ink dyes. I labeled each color that I stamped onto the gourd so I can use it as a reference. It really comes in handy.
I allowed the gourd to dry, then dabbed it with Gourd Master Varnish. I allowed individual coats to dry in between. I probably did about three coats. I'm including a few extra pictures which show close-ups of the leaves and face. Enjoy. Please e-mail me with any questions. Happy Crafting!