Saturday, May 31, 2014

Birdhouse Gourds

5 years or so ago Brian planted some birdhouse gourds in the garden. It was fun to watch them grow and they looked great sitting with the rest of the autumn harvest on the porch. When he planted them we thought it would be pretty cool to paint them and hang them from the trees. Guess what. We didn't do it. We did dry them out and put them on a shelf in the garage. We repeated that same process for a few years. Fast forward to two weeks ago. The time had come. I googled painting birdhouse gourds and found a few tutorials so we decided to see what fun we could have with our 12 dried gourds. 

The first step (not pictured) was to soak them for 4-8 hours and then use steel wool to scrub the outer skin off. Our first attempt taught us that you really do have to have the gourds completely submerged in water. Any dry spots are super difficult to scrub. Each girl was glad she only had to scrub 2 gourds. Our second attempt, after complete submersion, went much better. I strung a rope across the back patio, Brian drilled holes in the tops of the gourds and inserted wire through them, and then I hung them up to dry.

Once they were dry they needed to be coated in a water sealer. I painted one coat on, waited a day and then painted the second coat on.

Once they were completely dry (it took a few days, especially since we had rain. Yay for the sealer!) I painted an exterior paint and primer on. I did three coats of that. The girls were excited when they came home from school and saw white gourds. They knew their time to paint was getting closer.

Finally all the prep was done and it was time to paint. I covered the table with paper, put out lots of paints and brushes and told the girls to have at it. They had sketched out some ideas and put a lot of thought into what they wanted to do. I only gave them 2 days to get it done. We have a couple girls that would spend many many hours painting so we needed a time limit. They were amazing with what they did. Tons of detail and personality with each gourd. We all learned it was more difficult to paint on the gourds than on a flat piece of paper. Everyone finished their painting by last night so I could do the final step today.

The final step was to paint 2 coats of a polyurethane clear gloss on the gourds. I wasn't as careful as I should have been and our gourds have some drips on them but oh well. No one is going to be too bothered by that.

I guess the final final step is to hang them. We're going to do that Monday. We haven't quite decided if we're going to drill holes in all of them to turn them into real birdhouses. I'm a bit concerned with them becoming wasp houses. We have one that is drilled and we'll see how that works out before drilling the others. You have to know how excited I am by these since I'm posting 12 individual pictures of them. If you are ever in our backyard, make sure you go on a treasure hunt and see if you can find all 12.

FYI - I'm not super savvy about all things blog so after spending 15 minutes trying to get these pictures in the order I wanted them with captions telling you who painted what I'm just going to give you a list and you can mentally put the captions with the correct pictures.
Samantha - forest tree house & green gourd with blue dots
Gretchen - disney gourd (w/3 different scenes, you only can see 1) & tree with red star leaves
Julia - sun gourd & the all thing Zelda gourd (the entire gourd, incl the bottom is covered in zelda things)
Sydney - black and white pattern & palm tree gourds
Denice - black w/white flowers & mexican fiesta gourds
Brian - Mexcian flag & farm (cat & windmill) gourds


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