How to Paint on a Gourd

Aurelia Conway, Hummingbird Hill

You have a yard full of gourds, they're dried and clean but now you have to decide what to do with them next. How about painting them? Gourds are wonderful to paint. They can be painted with acrylics or oil paints. No need to sand or seal the gourd before painting.

Assemble your supplies. I prefer acrylic paints because they dry within a few minutes and offer a huge variety of color selection. These acrylics can be found at most hobby and craft stores. Select a good quality acrylic brush. With care they will last along time. After painting your project, be sure to seal it with an acrylic fast drying sealer. For birdhouses, be sure to use a sealer with UV blockers to protect fading from the sun. An amazing thing happens when your gourd is sealed. The paint is absorbed into the porous skin of the gourd along with the paint and it will not scratch off.

The most challenging part of painting on a gourd is transferring a pattern onto the surface. Because I design patterns for gourds, this is one of the most common questions I am asked. There are two methods you can use. You can layout the pattern and cover it with clear plastic cling wrap. Be sure to cut a piece large enough to go around your gourd. Using a fine tipped felt marker, trace the major portions of the pattern onto the cling wrap. Then place the cling wrap around your gourd. Slide graphite paper under the wrap and using a pencil trace on the pattern. The cling wrap will contour to the gourd. A second method of transferring is to make templates out of poster board. If you are going to do several gourds, I recommend this method. Trace the pattern onto tracing paper. Then retrace the pattern onto poster board. Cut out the individual sections, such as the door, windows or other major parts. You can then put that template up against the gourd and trace around it. Then, filling in the small details is easy. Always be sure to align the pattern to the way the gourd will sit or hang, depending upon how you will use it.

I find working on gourds exciting and challenging. Each new gourd offers inspiration to the creative artist. I first painted a gourd about 12 years ago. I have been a member of AGS and the Indiana Gourd Society for about 10 years. I now design exclusively for gourds.

American Gourd Society President's note: Aurelia is the author of 2 books with patterns for Gourds. AGS offers her latest book for sale, Birdhouse Gourds & More. Her 3rd pattern book Gorgeous Homes for Birds will be released 2-1-2001. You can view her work at