Basics of Gourd Health

      When working with gourds, the following common sense measures and easy-to-find products will help keep you healthy and happily crafting.
 
Gloves
     Avoid direct skin contact with moldy gourds which have not yet been cleaned. Some people also cannot handle cleaned gourds without gloves. A metallic taste in the mouth is the first sign of this tactile-taste problem. Vinyl gloves like those used by the health industry can be purchased by the box at your local pharmacies and large chain stores. When scrubbing gourds, dishwashing gloves are recommended.
 
Mask or Respirator
      Airborne dust particles and mold spores from gourds should be avoided just like any other type of airborne particulate. A mask or respirator designed to prevent inhalation of these minute particles should be worn when cleaning the outside surface, sanding, cutting, and cleaning inside surfaces of a gourd.

Other Suggestions
      Work with gourds outside whenever possible. If you must work inside, make sure you have good ventilation Ė and a dust control system is strongly recommended.
      Dust particles and mold spores will cling to clothing and hair. After working with gourds in the cleaning, sanding, cutting, and carving stages, change into clean clothes and wash the ones you were wearing. Keeping your hair covered while stirring up gourd dust or mold is also a good preventive measure.
      If you are new to gourds, you will soon learn your sensitivities to them (if any), and the measures youíll need to take when working with them. The first signs of a problem will most likely be a metallic taste in the mouth, fits of coughing, or sneezing with runny eyes and nose as in an allergy attack. The measures and protective items mentioned above are the first steps to maintaining good health while working with gourds. They should be followed even if you donít notice any sensitivity at all. Like many other pollutants in the environment we come in contact with throughout our lives, gourds donít always send up an immediate signal that they are causing a problem.
      Gourds are a wonderful natural resource to work with, providing many creative opportunities and practical uses. So letís all gourd in good health!



Gourd artists Joy Jackson (www.picturetrail.com/joybelle) and Jerry Lewis (www.coopdegourds.com) provided most of the information in this article, and we gratefully acknowledge their contributions to good gourd health.