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Sherri Richards, Published October 19 2012

Try decorating these long-lasting gourds for fall décor

If you go

What: Good Gourd! The Basics of Gourd Carving class

When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 3

Where: Prairie Crafters Supply, 3019 13th Ave. S., Fargo, (701) 232-3708

Info: Class is $40 ($35 for Moorhead School District residents). Gourd is extra, depending on size. Register with Moorhead Community Education, (218) 284-3400

FARGO – The low, square table in the middle of Prairie Crafters Supply looks a bit like a beige vegetable garden.

It’s stocked with dried gourds. Some are long, some squat. They’re named for their shapes, including apple and bottle gourds, says store owner Deb Jacobson.

These vegetables, grown specifically for crafting, have been dried for a couple years. Their once moldy outsides are scrubbed clean with soapy bleach water, Jacobson says. Now they’re smooth and ready to be crafted.

Prairie Crafters Supply will hold a class on gourd decorating Nov. 3. The store, which also specializes in leather, basket weaving and fur, also sells several books and DVDs on crafting gourds.

Online crafting blogs and video also demonstrate gourd projects.

They can be turned into bowls, vases, candle holders, even eating utensils. They can be rubber-stamped, gold leafed, beaded, burned or carved.

“A lot of people will dye the outside,” Jacobson says. “You can fill them with feathers, dried flowers.”

The gourds are light, and are almost like wood to work with, she says. The dried seeds inside rattle when shook.

Some of the large gourds are ready to be used as bird houses. Oblong gourds can be cut in half and turned into two bowls.

Jacobson says she’s met Fargo residents from Africa who used even larger gourds to make drums.

“Some people cut off parts they don’t need to make jewelry,” Jacobson says. “It’s just your imagination.”

Mark Norquist, manager of Prairie Craft Supply, says he’s mainly crafted traditional, utilitarian pieces out of the gourds, such as prehistoric-style containers. He’s seen people make votive holders and oil diffusers, and covered the gourds with foil and done stone inlay to make them very decorative.

“If a person is into any type of wood carving, especially chip carving, this really lends itself to that, to get really ornate,” Norquist says.

“It’s one of those hobbies you don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to get into,” he adds. “You can be really creative with nothing more than a $2 X-Acto knife.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556