Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Gourd Artists Donna and Donnie Smith Demonstrate at Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
On Saturday, July 4, Donna and Donnie Smith of Waco, will demonstrate their gourd artistry from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.
Twenty years ago, Donna and Donnie Smith planted gourds by their back porch and their journey as craftspeople began. Donna eventually left her job and she and her husband Donnie became full-time gourd artists. Their work is a partnership with Donna decorating the gourds with floral images or leaves that conform and enhance their natural shapes. Some of her pieces become vases when she takes long necked gourds and embellishes them with vertical imagery. Utilizing her graphic design background, Donna draws a design in pencil and then burns the design with a wood burning tool. The gourds are next painted with watercolors, inks, dyes and water-based stains, and sealed with a clear acrylic.
Most of their gourds are raised on their five-acre farm by Donnie. A good dried gourd, though, is just the beginning—Donnie washes each gourd to remove the outer skin, which has molded and left an interesting pattern and texture on the gourd, and then cleans and sands the gourds and cuts the lids. He is constantly finding creative ways to cut their gourds, transforming them into baskets and lidded vessels using cut-out filigreed designs that enhance and integrate the painted surface and form. His newest idea has been to create wooden inset bases for their gourds, allowing for greater stability in the more vertical and asymmetrical gourds.
Gourds by Donna and Donnie Smith are regularly available at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, located at 975 Walnut Meadow Road, just off Interstate 75 at exit 77 (Berea). The Center’s exhibits, shopping, and travel information areas are all open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the café from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. The Center currently features works by more than 650 artisans from 100 counties across the Commonwealth. For more information call 859-985-5448 or visit the Center’s web site at www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Kentucky Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet.