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Sep 20th

Gourds by Gertskid (Part III)

Mary Cinnamon – Gourd Artist Extraordinaire!

                         Gourds by Gertskid

Part III – Art Speaks for Itself

(See parts I and II in blog )

Painted Gourds by Gertskid

Reunion by Gertskid



Mary Cinnamon did a work she titled, “Reunion” that was created in all blacks and beige and included female characters. With that piece she began to realize that she could impart messages through her art, the values that she strongly believes in such as peace, harmony, compassion and family. While those pieces take more time to execute and are technically more difficult, Mary realized that she could speak through her art.  More importantly, she realized that it wasn’t necessary for all of them to be funny, but that they could also be real.

Mary paints the gourds with acrylic paint or on occasion leather dye.  Acrylics are polymer based and can stand up to some abuse, but acrylics also create a shiny surface.  Mary likes the “folk-art” or primitive look and so she uses a matte finish to nullify the shine, essentially removing the shiny surface created by the acrylics.

Gourds have been painted for centuries and in many cultures including African, Asian and Native American. In Africa, gourds

“These are some of my friends right before a show saying…’Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!’ Of course they’re all going but I don’t tell them that until the last minute so they’ll behave while they’re waiting…”– Mary C.

are used in utilitarian ways to carry water or food, but are painted and decorated to help preserve them.  Many cultures use very decorative techniques, adding beads and other objects. Mary doesn’t want her work to have that decorative look, so she keeps them primitive in appearance much more in keeping with the look of the work by Native Americans or early American Folk artists.

All artists share a heritage in some of the materials and techniques with the artists that have come before them in history.  Mary shares material with those Native American artists who used Canteen gourds to carry water.  She uses many of the Canteen gourds in her art and finds them particularly useful in making masks.

Hand crafted and painted Turtle Gourds by Gourds by Gertskid

I have often wondered how anyone can look at a gourd, given how they grow in the field, and picture something as amazing as Mr. T, let alone pull it off. Call to order your special Turtle gourd. 513-897-4348

Mary never throws any part of a gourd away, using the pieces in one way or another, either to experiment on or as accessories for some of her figures. Mary never uses glue to attach tails or other parts, as she like her work to be pristine.  To add a tail to a cat for example, she might put a small hole and place the end of the tail inside and tie it off tightly within the gourd.  Recently she has begun to experiment with a textured medium that creates a three-dimensional appearance.

There are many types of gourds and Mary uses any number of them in the creation of her figures. Most of her gourds come from Pumpkin Hollow Gourds in Piggot, Arkansas.  Mary has a working relationship with Ellen from Pumpkin Hollow who helps her choose the perfect individual gourd for each of her visions.  The rest of her gourds she chooses herself each year when she goes to the Cherokee Gourd Show in Cherokee, North Carolina, or she will get them from Ghost Creek in South Carolina.  Though Ellen comes through for her every time, Mary likes to choose her own gourds so she can touch them, look at them and even smell them.  For Mary, this emersion into the gourds is to be inspired by the perfection she finds in nature.

Mary uses many gourds in her art including: Canteen, Tobacco, Martin’s, Dipper, Goose, Warty, Penguin, Banana, Maranka, Bottle and two sizes of Egg.  Mary buys the gourds already cured from her suppliers.  Those that grow the gourds cure them in a number of ways.  This natural process can take from a few months to over a year for the gourd to cure.

Gourds by Gertskid

Gourds by Gertskid

Some growers leave them to dry in the field and this creates a flat side on the gourd, while others might wrap them to create a spiral. Mary likes those that are placed on pallets where the air gets to all sides of the gourd allowing it to retain its natural shape.

See the fourth and final part of this series in the next edition. You can find Mary’s one-of-a-kind, hand painted art pieces at the Canada Goose Gallery.  Remember: If you love one that is pictured here, please call right away because no two are identical. 

For more information about Mary Cinnamon or any of the work featured in this article, please contact the Canada Goose Gallery at 97 South Main Street, Waynesville, OH, 45068 or call (513)897-4348 or on the web at


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