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 After gourds dry out completely the blackened skin needs to be removed.  When I clean a bunch of thick-walled gourds, I use a trash can.  I put a cup of bleach into the bottom of the can, fill the can two-thirds full with dry gourds and secure the lid with rope or cinder blocks, sometimes both (dry gourds act like big corks in water).  Then I fill the can with water to soak over night.  For thin-walled gourds, I do not recommend this method of cleaning, as the gourds on the top of the can get crushed by the ones underneath trying to push their way out of the water.  So for the thin-walled ones I use one-  and two- gallon zip lock  bags.  I use one tablespoon of bleach per bag, one gourd per bag, seal the bag almost shut, and fill with water, sealing the bag when it is full then leaving them  to soak over night. Now for really large gourds, I wrap them in old towels and soak them down in the bath tub. After an hour or even a day or more the skin will be soft enough to scrap right off. If now just put it back in the towels to soak some more. I prefer a plastic pot scrubber over metal scrubbers or brushes.  The metal leaves marks on the softened gourd that must be sanded out later, unless you plan on painting the outside. Be careful when cleaning any gourds, as soaking them softens them.  Scrubbing too hard can break or crack the gourd and ruin your future projects.  I've cleaned gourds in my bath tub in the winter, and outside in the backyard during the warm weather.  Outside is easier, less clean up  Rinse often while cleaning and power-spray any buildup off the scrub pad when needed.  When soaked gourds are clean, set them out to dry  for a day or so.  That's all it should take, unless the gourd fills up inside with water.  In that case, you can find the hole and drain it or poke a hole to drain it out, otherwise it could rot. Give it a couple more weeks to dry back out.  Once your gourds are dry and clean they are ready for you to cut them open, clean the insides out,  and turn them into something wonderful.  Even if  you give your gourds the best possible place to dry out you can still expect to loose somewhere around ten percent every year.  Some will get ugly dents or become misshapen  as they dry out.   When you've got the gourd clean and dry you can sand the outside with 400 grit sand paper to smooth out any small imperfections or missed skin.  Any warts or cankers can be sanded down using a detail sander until nearly flat, then finish-sanded.  I hope this helps you enjoy the wonderful world of gourds as much as I do.
Sincerely, Karen Brown

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"Atlantian"
Gourd Mask 2003
3rd place Indiana Gourd Show
$50.00

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Punch Bowl Set
2nd place 2003 Indiana Gourd Show
$100.00

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