Following an administrative career with the U.S. Tennis Association, Jane Boggs was exploring her creative side when a friend invited her to visit a gourd farm. “I filled my Expedition with 100 dirty, yucky, awful gourds and my husband asked, ‘Are you out of your gourd? What are you going to do with them?’ I told him I had no clue, they just called to me.” Boggs purchased a book on gourd art and has been hooked ever since, turning the ordinary vine-borne fruits into works of art that have become more and more elaborate through the years.
Taking a humble gourd from the field to finished art piece takes patience, Boggs explains. She purchases hers from a farm in Casa Grande. Regardless of size, gourds – which range from a 1½-by-¾-inch jewelry gourd to a 3-foot-by-10-inch zucca and are related to squash and pumpkins – take about 120 days to grow and a couple months to dry, and it’s a lot of work to get the inside clean. She scrubs the outside to reveal the plant’s true colors then begins planning the design that will transform it into what she refers to as her “gourdian spirit” art piece. The fun begins next as the artist etches her design into the gourd using a pyrographic technique and adds paint, feathers, precious stones, fossils, cactus fibers, dyes and other embellishments. Her finished works – which are lightweight and sturdy – range from Christmas ornaments and drums, to a 5-by-5-foot Avatar mask inspired by the science-fiction film.
When she isn’t turning gourds into gorgeous pieces of art, the Cave Creek artist is an avid hiker, kayaker and tennis player. Find her work at the Carefree Fine Art & Wine Fest, Nov. 1-3; Hidden in the Hills studio tour, Nov. 22-Dec. 1; Arizona Fine Art Expo, Jan. 10-March 22; or at janeboggsgourdart.com.