I started working on a new apple gourd and thought I'd take my time on this one to document progress and steps. I did also find a couple of lines I forgot to draw in and burn, but I can do that later. Here goes.
Step 1: Getting the Picture on the Gourd
1. To start with, find an apple gourd. These are easily identified as they are in the shape of an apple - just big apples. I have bought most of mine at the NC Gourd Society Fall Festival which is held every September at the NC Fair Grounds in Raleigh. I have also grown some of these in the past. As gourds go, they're fairly easy to grow and usually have a nice hard shell and thick stems. You can order them from Welburn Gourd Farm in California and almost any other gourd farm online.
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.