Gourds by Pat Berkbigler
About Our Art
I am a retired elementary school teacher, after 31 rewarding years in public education. When I tell people I was a teacher they immediately respond with, “So you taught art?” The answer to that is “No”. Through all my years in education, none of them involved taking or teaching art classes.
Even though I have never taken classes, I have always enjoyed arts and crafts and have dabbled in many through the years, including sewing, cake decorating, dried wreath making, and quilting to name a few. I even made pins from paint sticks adorned with seed bugs and sold them throughout my neighborhood when I was in 8th grade, earning enough money to pay for a plane ticket to visit cousins in New Hampshire. Yes, I’m older than dirt and tickets were cheap back in the day.
So how did I get into gourding you ask? Well, after playing around with cupcake decorating, I was on a kick of making embroidered cookies. In looking for ideas on the internet, I came across a youtube video by Miriam Joy about creating Christmas ornaments from coyote gourds and melted crayon. I sent in my order for supplies and off I went. So fun! I then decided I’d like to try the technique on larger gourds, but had no idea where to find them. After a bit of research, I found that there was a gourd festival in Springfield, Missouri every year and gourd vendors would be present. Woo Hoo! I also discovered that they offered workshops teaching a variety of gourding techniques. After my first carving class in 2017 with Gloria Crane, a gourd artist from California, I was hooked.
As a nature lover, I find gourd art to be relaxing, rewarding, and intriguing. There always seems to be a new technique to be learned or created, keeping this art form fun and exciting. I especially love to carve. Sand waves, stippling, filigree, Oh My! Pyrography has been interesting and challenging, but the most difficult part for me is painting. Having never taken a class, a lot of trial and error takes place before a project is finished. The most important thing I have learned is that there is always a way to fix a mistake. I’m not quite in line with Bob Ross, calling my mistakes ‘Happy Accidents’, but thus far, I have never had to discard a project.
At this point, I have never entered any pieces in a judged gourd art competition, but after becoming a juried member of The Best of Missouri Hands, I felt I could claim the title of Gourd Artist. I have juried into a few art fairs and look forward to learning more about the art community. I truly enjoy introducing people to this art form just about as much as I enjoy creating the pieces. When people hear ‘gourds’, they picture those colorful little squash like things that decorate a Thanksgiving table. When I think of gourds, I immediately begin to visualize how these dried orbs of nature can be transformed into sculptural vessels through carving, stippling, filigree, painting, and pyrography.
The question I’m asked most often about my pieces is, ‘How long before they rot?’ They don’t! As with any fine artwork, with proper care, they last a lifetime.
*CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO SEE A DESCRIPTION AND THE PRICE FOR EACH PIECE* (additional pictures of some of the pieces can be seen on my Instagram and/or Facebook pages)
Watch my segment on the PBS show “MAKING”
Watch my interview by Mary Martin of Green Door Art Gallery in Webster Groves, Missouri
See my feature in Missouri Life Magazine April 26, 2021
Watch my Interview: KSDK Show Me St. Louis “Local Woman Turns Gourds Into Beautiful Works Of Art”
Watch a video featuring my art by clicking here
Visit me on Facebook: Gourds by Pat Berkbigler
Follow me on Instagram: gourdsbypatberkbigler
Gourds by Pat Berkbigler
Stippling, Carving, Filigree and more is used to create heirloom hard shell gourd art that lasts a lifetime.
Awards and Honors
*Invited to participate in The Best of Missouri Market 2023
*Became a board member for Best of Missouri Hands
*Guest Artist at Green Door Art Gallery in Webster Groves, MO May/June 2022
*Guest Artist at Green Door Art Gallery in Webster Groves, MO July/August 2021
*Article in Missouri Life Online Magazine April 26, 2021
*Invited to participate in The Best of Missouri Market (MIssouri Botanical Gardens) 2021
*Invited to participate in The Best of Missouri Market (Missouri Botanical Gardens) 2020
*Juried Member of Best of Missouri Hands
*Commissioned to create gourd art pieces for Welburn Gourd Farm to showcase their products
*Featured on the Welburn Gourd Farm website as well as in their newsletter
* Invited to participate in The Best of Missouri Market (Missouri Botanical Gardens) Oct. 2019
*Queeny Fall Art Fair Aug./Sept 2019
*Featured on KSDK Show-Me St. Louis Sept. 2018
*Invited to participate in The Best of Missouri Market (Missouri Botanical Gardens) Oct. 2018