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Karen Caldwell

LaDeDa Gourds

Gourd Art and Inspiration


2410 East Plummer Lake Lane, Lac du Flambeau, WI 54538, USA

FROM Woodruff: Take Hwy47N out of Woodruff for 4.6mi, turn right onto Cty F/East Boundary Trail (3.5mi) and take the second left onto E Plummer Lake Lane (0.12mi) and turn left into the first drive #2410.

FROM Manitowish Waters: Take Hwy 51S, Turn right onto Cty ‘H,’ Turn left onto East Boundary Trail (EBT). At 5.5 miles turn right onto East Plummer Lake Lane from EBT, Follow East Plummer Lake Ln, turn left into the first drive #2410.


(224) 306-8599

Year-Round Studio Hours

Call for information.


After more than 20 years in healthcare and 8 of them on the island of Guam, I returned home to the States.  While I was putting off finding a ‘real’ job, my mother requested a gourd birdhouse for her garden. Unable to find a birdhouse gourd locally, I went to the internet. Found a gourd grower and had to buy a box of ten. Then I had to figure out what to do with the other nine. The American Gourd Society (AGS) website with links to gourd artist sites across the country gave me a long list of possibilities and I was hooked.

As I explored the many shapes, sizes and history of gourds, I learned that they were the first cultivars by indigenous peoples around the planet I started to research the individual uses. GOURDS have been cultivated for at least 11,000 years, based on Ancient DNA testing of gourd shards. Many cultures used them as sacred vessels, storage containers, musical instruments, utensils, and ornaments. Their use for many purposes provides a wealth of opportunity for artistic expression.

The plant family – Cucurbitacea contains three major groups:

Lagenaria – Hard-shell gourds

Cucurbita –Edible and Ornamental gourds and squashes, and

Luffa – Vegetable sponges.

Lagenaria or hard-shell gourds are the gourds that I craft and sell. These gourds have a long growing season and take 3-6 months to dry.  In the drying process, molds feed on the escaping moisture, creating the beautiful mottled effect on the gourd surface.

These gourds are handled much like wood and they are a wonderful canvas for many techniques and most media. I use wood-burning and carving for shading, images, and texture.  I use acrylic paints, pigment inks, dyes, and waxes for coloring. Dried seeds, pods, leaves, driftwood, antlers, beads, charms, coins, and many other decorative items can be used to rim or to embellish the gourd and to expand on the story told by the gourd.

Come by and see them go from blah to LaDeDa!


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