clearing up calebasse confusion

Mom and Leolaine cut open a calebasse

I have received some comments that tell me that I have not been clear enough regarding Mom's project with the calebasse. Of course, I never know how many details you are really interested in reading, or whether such details are a bore. So, I will try to make a short explanation to clear the subject up. This will be helpful for you in understanding future calebasse posts.

Gourds are fruit in the squash family. Those colorful squash that are always falling out of Thanksgiving cornucopias? Those are decorative gourds. The ones Mom works with are the "hard-shell" variety. Gourds have a relative called calebasse (that is the French) or calabash. While gourds grow on vines, calebasse grow on trees and tend to have thinner, harder shells than gourds.

Every continent in the world naturally grows either gourds or calebasse. Historically, both gourds and calebasse have had many everyday uses. For example, many indigenous groups have cut gourds open and used them as water vessels. This is how calebasse were used in Haiti until recently. Those pictures you might have seen of Haitian women carrying water on their heads? They might have been carrying it in calebasse vessels.

Mom is an accomplished gourd artist. She grows gourds and lets them dry. Once dry, the gourds have thick, hard outer shells. She uses many different methods and kinds of equipment to manipulate the gourds into works of art. Mom has won competitions and has her work on display in an art gallery in Round Top, Texas. (See Copper Shade Tree Gallery.)

Examples of Mom's gourd art

When Mom visited Haiti in April, she noticed calebasse on display in an art gallery. Haiti is quite well known for its art. However, while talking to a gallery owner and looking at the art on display, Mom discovered that calebasse art is one of the less-developed art media in Haiti. The gallery owner expressed interest in Mom giving workshops to her artists if Mom should return to Haiti.

So this time Mom came prepared. She plans to give workshops both at the art gallery mentioned above and at an elementary school.

But first she needs the calebasse, which is why she has been hunting them down. The calebasse take a while to dry, so at the beginning of our stay (now) she will focuse on collecting and drying the calebasse. Toward the end of our stay, she will give the workshops.

Thus, the subject of calebasse will probably make a regular appearance on this blog over the next month.

If you are interested in checking out more of Mom's work, visit the "Gourds" page of Mom and Dad's website.

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