Behind the Scenes: From Garden to Gourd Art with Rosey Bolte

Artists might talk about making something “from scratch,” but gourd artist Rosey Bolte really means it.  She starts with handfuls of gourd seeds, which she grows in her expansive gardens right next to her studio, The Uncommon Gourd.

Rosey under her gourd arch

She grows a variety of gourd types, from small to large, and in shapes from stout and rounded (for her popular little birds or large roosters) to elongated (for witches and snakes) to lumpy and bumpy (for warty toads, some of her newest work).


She harvests the gourds at the end of October or November, when all the leaves have died back.  At this point, the smaller gourds are fully dry and ready to use.  Larger gourds require up to a year of drying before Rosey can use them for her artwork.

Gourds drying in Rosey’s studio

After thoroughly scrubbing the gourds with metal scrubbing pads, a job she does outside in her garden, Rosey sculpts with Paperclay onto the gourds, adding ears, beaks, tails, rooster combs, or whatever the piece calls for.

Gourd with cat’s ears sculpted from Paperclay

After the Paperclay is fully dry, Rosey sands the piece, covers the entire piece with spray primer, and then sands again.  At this point, the pieces are ready to be painted.

Future gourd birds, ready to be painted

Rosey has plenty of gourds on hand, at every stage of production, so she’s always ready to sit in her workspace and make something when inspiration strikes.

Rosey’s workspace

If you visit Rosey’s Uncommon Gourd any day in October during the Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour, you too can watch Rosey demonstrate how her artwork goes from garden to gourd art.

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