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Gourd Crafting Tutorial "Two-Feathers" - Step-by-Step Tutorial How to Make a Gourd Ornament

“Two Feathers” Southwestern Gourd Ornament by Nedra Denison

This was my first full step-by-step gourd tutorial which was originally posted on my blog. I decided to start with an ornament because they are so much fun to do & it allows you to be very creative. Each ornament starts with an idea & evolves every step of the way. The more you step outside the box & let your imagination& flow the better it seems to turn out.

This tutorial is intended to show you the steps I used to create this ornament. You can sketch your own design & then use this as a guide to create your own ornament.  

Sketching the borders

I am starting this gourd ornament with no plan in mind. I drilled holes through the top for the leather Two Feathers Gourd Ornament Step One.
lacing I will use to hang the ornament. Next, I just started drawing some border lines in Two Feathers Gourd Ornament Step Two.Razertip HD14SM Round-Heeled knife.

The idea in my mind had a border & top but nothing concrete. I started with a simple border at first but the idea changed after I started adding color above the top border & below the bottom border.  Once the top border was sketched & burned I repeated the same border design at the bottom of the ornament.

Adding color above & below the borders

With the border designs in place it’s time to start adding some color to the gourd while I’m stillAdding color above & below the borders. contemplating the overall design in the center of the gourd in my mind.

When I do Southwest style gourds I love using Memories Sepia Dye Ink color. It’s very earthy & really compliments most southwestern designs.

Using a cotton-tipped applicator with a pointed tip & flat end I can cover the entire area without messing up any other areas. The flat side works great for the larger Heat setting the ink.areas & the pointed end will do well for areas close to the lines.

Memories dye inks were applied & then heat set to help it dry quickly & ensure it does not smudge while you are working. I covered the entire area above the border with the Sepia & then heat set it with an embossing heat tool. I then did the same thing below the bottom border. Once the dye ink is heat set it will not smudge or smear as I continue working & the gourd.

It’s important to remember that if you are new to using Memories water-based inks that they really need to be heat set. This will help keep it from smearing as you work & it will set it in to the gourd surface so it will be permanent.

Finishing the border design & adding color

Once both areas were fully covered with the Dye ink it was time to start working & the border designs & the top & bottom. I decided to give them a little more personality with a somewhat traditionalAdding color to the border designs. southwestern style border.

I decided to use a metallic paint to add some pizazz to the gourd. I used Lumiere metallic acrylic paint & Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments to color the border designs so it would stand out from the sepia. I left the center of the body alone until I get the design sketched. The Lumiere is a wonderful semi-opaque paint that comes in metallic & pearlescent colors. It goes & like butter & you can achieve wonderful effects with it. The Pearl Ex powdered pigments can be mixed with Lumiere, Memories Inks or almost any medium, used alone over Heat-Activated glue. You can adjust how much sheen by adding more powder to the mix.

For instructions & how to use Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments you can read my tutorial & how to use Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments.

Adding the feather designs

I’m starting to think of designs for the body of the ornament but only had a vague concept up until now. What started out as a feather or two in my mind ended up being a pair of feathers & each side…& then some! One thing about art is that usually it starts with an idea then evolves as you go. That’s whatFeather design added to the ornament.is happening here.

On one side I sketched 2 feathers overlapping with leather lacing & the quill & then decided the other side needed something different. I sketched a concho with feathers through the center & leather lacing through the concho with pony beads scattered along the leather lacing.

Pony beads are commonly used in Native American art such as dream catchers & shields so I thought it would be a nice touch. My house is decorated in southwestern style & I have Kachina’s, dream catcher’s, vases, urns, warrior shields & other Native American art all over the place. Easy for me to get ideas without stepping foot outside my house.

Once the design was sketched I then burned the design. For the feathers I used the HD14SM Round-Heeled Knife & for the fine detail such as the concho I use the same round-heeled knife but also use the Razertip HD5S Small Spear to do the fine detail areas. This tip is wonderful for doing fine lines & detail work. 

Painting the remainder of the ornament

After both designs are sketched & burned I carefully added Memories Sepia dye ink around theFeather on side one is finished. design. I use a combination of a sponge applicator, the cotton-tipped applicator, Microbrushes, Fine Liner Fiber Applicator & Taklon Micro detail brushes. The sponge applicator is good for larger areas & the Microbrushes, Taklon detail brushes & cotton-tipped applicators Two Feathers Ornament Side 2 Finished.help keep the ink away from the burned lines of the design. The nice thing about the Microbrushes is that they come in three sizes to do fill most people’s needs.

The background color is finished & the dye ink was heat set with an embossing heat tool before I do anymore.

The hard part now is doing the painting of the overall feather designs. I am using a combination of JoSonja acrylic paint & Lumiere Metallic paint for all the color. Again, I am using the same applicators used previously. For the actual feathers I preferred using the Microbrushes because I will get a more “feathery” look so it looks soft.

Applying the final finish

Usually when I do southwestern designs I prefer a matte finish so that it looks more natural. So, once the overall design was finished I applied Americana Finishes matte sealer for a more natural finish.Americana Finishes Matte Sealer. This is one of my favorite finishes when I use a spray finish because it leaves a nice finish & it has low odor. It is also much easier to use a spray when doing ornaments that are small.

What I have discovered is the easiest way to spray a nice even coat is to hang the ornament & then let it spin slowly as I apply a smooth even spray.

Americana Sealer/Finisher can be found at many art supply shops or online. It is made by Deco Art but not as readily available as Krylon or Deft. I like Americana so much better than because it’s relatively low odor. I have also found that Americana has a better "feel" than Krylon. If you can't find Americana locally just do a Google for DecoArt & you will find a list of online retailers that carry Americana Sealer/Finisher.


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial as much as I did doing it!

Happy Gourding!

Nedra Denison signature.


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