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Front Page » June 20, 2006 » Local News » Gourd art on display
Published 3,901 days ago

Gourd art on display

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Gourd art comes in all shapes and forms.

Huntington Library recently displayed the gourd art of Sharon Pollaehne and Shawnee Barnes.

"I have been carving and painting gourds for the last four years. People often ask how I got started. I have been doing crafts and painting for years, and I have always found gourds to be fascinating. I just happened to be able to combine painting and crafting into one medium, gourds.

"Everything I have learned was self taught with a lot of trial and error in between. In fact the first gourd I tried working on caught on fire as I tried cutting it open. I have learned a lot since then. I now grow my own gourds. My favorite gourds to carve are the leaf motif gourds. I love gardening and nature, so the designs are easy to come up with.

"I have been able to sell my gourds throughout the state, from St. George to Moab, to Heber City and in Park City," said Pollaehne.

Pollaehne has displayed her gourds at several Emery County Fairs and other events in the county where crafts are shown. Even though she is a very busy wife and mother, she markets her own creations, and will take special orders.

Barnes got started "gourding," by accident. Her dad, Glenn Nelson of Huntington, had grown some gourds one summer. Her mother Sylvia, called and said, "How many of these gourds do you want?" Shawnee said "none," called the next day and said "one," called the very next day and said "I'll take a few more." By the end of the week, she said "I'm a 'gourdaholic."

The first one finished was a birthday gift of a plant watering pitcher for her mother, who cried. Her parents could hardly wait to see the next and next creation, and her dad wanted to keep each and every one.

Then she decided she might try to sell them. She made a website, with photos and prices, and has been able to sell them as fast as she can make them, many even before they were finished. The Museum of the San Rafael let her make a display for their annual Folk Art Festival. The Museum in Price also asked her to do a special display for an art event. She was able to sell everything she had or was able to make before Christmas that year, including hair pieces and jewelry.

"Grow more gourds, dad," and of course, he did. The next year he grew about 250, many different varieties, dried them, scrubbed them clean and stored them, ready for her use. She doesn't like to sell them herself. She is embarrassed to think that people will pay for something she has created out of such a simple thing, even though she puts hours into each piece and to perfection. The first year she had a booth at the Scofield Pleasant Valley days, she got lost in the crowd while mom sold every gourd within an hour. Dad grows 'em. Shawnee makes 'em. Mom markets 'em.

Shawnee's style and technique is somewhat unique. She wood burns only, which is dirty, long work. She looks at the gourd and sees the finished piece in her mind before starting. The Native American motifs are as close to originals she has seen, with one special addition to each one to make it her own. All are worked free hand. She designs and draws her own animals and also many designs now.

Different places of business have wanted certain kinds of styles, but Shawnee just "has to do what she sees in the gourd." She enjoys making the designs familiar to her lifestyle; fish, deer, elk, bison and even though she hates snakes she has made a rattlesnake bowl with a real rattle. At one Sportsman for Wildlife banquet, she gave a big wildlife bowl for the silent auction, and before the night was over, she gave a big wildlife bowl for the silent auction, and before the night was over, she had sold the other three that were out in dad's pickup as well. She has been asked to do certain designs found on this area's rock art. She enjoys visiting the sites, sitting, sketching, and then drawing it onto just the right gourd.

One of the most fun gourds that Shawnee has created was bought for friend who rides mules. It was a large bowl with a handle depicting a mule hanging over a fence, and titled "Feed Me and Apple." The bowl was filled with decorator apple.

Shawnee is a graduate of Emery High, graduated from the University of Utah with two degrees and several minors, has taught Criminology at CEU, where she also taught modern and jazz dance classes.

Shawnee has one daughter, Shaffryn, who is at Portland State University. She likes to ride horses with her dad, hunt and fish, go 4-wheeling with friends, go hiking, biking and river rafting. She enjoys the ballet and mostly modern dance, and also attends musical concerts. She works on photo scrapbooks, makes her own greeting cards, special baby and wedding gifts that are out of the ordinary. She does pencil drawings and is learning to water color.

When does she have time to "gourd"???... Whenever she can! She enjoys her alone times, whether at the family home in the mountains where she makes coffee and cinnamon rolls so the house will smell like it did when Grandma Jo lived there, or at her own home, now in Colorado.

Shawnee is always interested in other people who are making gourd art. She appreciates how much of that person goes into each piece; the time and talent put into their work, whether large or small; each and every piece is a "one of a kind!"

Shawnee sends greetings to all who have come to see the display at the Huntington Library and hope that you enjoyed her works.

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