I dried some gourds we grew, so we can make gourd birdhouses. If you didn’t grow any yourself, you can probably find some in your area at a farmer’s market or even a craft shop.
Because of the number of steps involved and the drying time required between painting, we will probably start these at a meeting and then they can take them home to paint them. I’m also planning on having them already soaking when the meeting starts. Kids and a 10 percent bleach solution are not a good combination, so they can start at the point where they scrub the gourds with the soapy water.
Depending on age and maturity, some of these steps might have to be done by an adult.
- Dried gourd – “bottle gourd”
- bleach solution – one-part bleach and nine parts water
- Steel wool
- bucket with soapy water
- Old towel to dry the gourd
- Utility knife
- Hand drill
- Enamel paint or shellac or polyurethane
- Paint brush
- Soak the gourd in a bleach solution for 15 minutes. (This might be done by an adult rather than a youth.)
- Dry the gourd with the towel.
- Immediately clean the outside of the gourd using the steel wool and the soapy water.
- Dry the gourd again with the towel.
- With the knife, cut a 1 ½ inch diameter hole in the gourd, slightly above the halfway point on the “fat” part of the gourd. (This might also need to be done by an adult.)
- Use the spoon to remove any seeds or pith in the gourd.
- Drill a few holes in the bottom, for drainage.
- Drill two holes at the top of the gourd. Later you will feed the wire through these to make a hanger for the gourd..
- Coat the gourd with at least two coats of paint, shellac, or polyurethane, letting it dry 24 hours between applications.
- Feed a length of wire through the holes.
- Twist the ends of the wire together to form a hanger.
- Hang out on a tree and wait for some birds to move in.
The dried gourds might have some mold spots on them. This happens during the drying process. They can still be used.
You might need to redrill the holes a little after painting.
USE CAUTION WITH THE BLEACH AND THE UTILITY KNIFE!