Marist Holiday Traditions – Atlanta November 5 2011

This is probably one of my favorite events to show at or attend – the variety and amount of vendors with beautiful arts, crafts, wares of all kinds for your perusal.  I’ll be there —- not sure of if my location has changed for this show, but hopefully same place as always!

Holiday Traditions, sponsored by the Marist School Parents Club, is held each year on the campus of Marist School and is one of the largest juried arts and crafts shows in the Southeast. Produced through the hard work of over 400 volunteers, it is well known for its quality and warm hospitality. All show proceeds go directly to support Marist School programs.
Holiday Traditions 2011
November 5, 2011
9 am – 4 pm
Admission: $3
*No strollers
3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road. NE
Atlanta GA  30319


You Gotta Clean Those Gourds – and prep BEFORE PAINTING


For over 15 years now, I have worked with gourds. For the most part, I just paint them. For today, I’d like to address the issues of cleaning and prepping the gourd for painting.

Let’s start at the beginning. I have had frequent questions about cleaning a gourd as well as questions about the moldy appearance a gourd has while drying. Unfortunately, more times than not, people have told me that they threw out the gourd ’cause it was moldy’. That is generally a mistake.

As a gourd dries (the process takes a couple months to as long as a year to dry) it dries from the inside out, mold appears grossly on the outside. That’s ok, it’s drying. IF IT IS NOT SOFT, LEAVE IT ALONE. It’s still drying … mold and all. They seem to like cooler temps while drying, I like to put any gourds that I’m drying on racks during the long drying process.

For an example of gourds I may let dry (I don’t grow them myself, don’t seem to work on my shady land), I usually buy some at Thanksgiving for decorations, the small ones for your dried corn and gourd centerpiece. After the Holiday, I’ll put them on some racks or in a basket and leave them on my front porch to dry. Those that get soft over the months, I toss over the mountain or in a sunny spot that might have a chance for the seeds to grow the next summer. The rest I leave till a day like today or in my case yesterday, hot, sunny, July day when I find the initiative it takes to clean them and I do it en masse.

I found every dried gourd that I had bought, been given or dried myself like the Thanksgiving gourds. Gathered them, a small kiddie pool, bleach, a good scrubbie and set to work. This is not a particularly fun job, more like cleaning silver! Getting all the dirt, mold, old skin off till I find that nice hard shell underneath. You may want to use a mask as recommended. I just throw all in the pool filled with water and a few cups of bleach. Then I get to work scrubbing (use gloves if you must). It takes quite a long time to accomplish this but to date in all the years I have been prepping gourds, this has been the best method I have found for me. I must have cleaned 50 or more gourds yesterday.

After cleaning them I keep them outside to get good and dry. When dry, and I as get ready to “paint” my Santas and other funny things, I prime them with something like Kilz water-based primer.

Why prime? Because of bleed-through. I don’t want some deep stain natural to a gourd bleeding through a beautiful Santa that I have painted with all intentions that it last forever for the people who may acquire it. I don’t want someone to have a ruined piece because I didn’t do the proper prep work. Prepping is everything. Despite what you might see on home improvement shows: Prepping and priming are an insurance policy of durability. Sealing it properly also is a good time investment. I use polyacrylic. While not meant for the outdoors, it is suitable for covered porches. And if you are looking to leave it outside, find a sealer meant for the outdoors. Not one coat, not even two, give it three or four coats of sealer. Again, a little time invested in the finish coat assures you durability and long lasting appeal.

Questions? Ask them. I’ve always been open to giving answers about anything I do with paint!

2008 Show Schedule


   June 14 – Dillsboro Arts & Music Festival, NC   

   July 4-5 – Cashiers NC – Mountain Makings

   Aug 15 – Lake Toxaway – The Greystone Inn, NC

   Aug. 30-31 – Cashiers NC – Fall Fling

   Oct. 11 – Highlands NC – Civic Center

   Nov. 1 – Marist School, Atlanta GA  Holiday Traditions

   Dec. 4-5-6  – St. Ann,  Marietta, GA  Apple Annie



Finally – More Old ENGLISH SHEEPDOG artwork on eBay

mailboxOver the last several months I have had requests for more Old English Sheepdog artwork on eBay – so finally I can say there will be and this morning I got round to putting up a wonderful Mailbox, mail box or postal box – whatever your preference in naming it!  So here it is and watch for more.

My eBay name is ddittman so have a look and see what else is to come!

Plans for this last week of May and beginning of June include a few neat storage containers, a lap desk, a silverware chest, a painting or two, and who knows what else..

Upcoming Show – May 17-18 Cashiers NC 10-5 -Come On Out

Wow, hard to believe my show season is about to begin. While I choose to do only about 10 shows a year, it’s always exciting when the first one comes – it’s like a kick-off to a whole new adventure filled year. So come on out to Cashiers NC – see the sights, the art show, and enjoy yourself. These shows to date have always had a wonderfully diverse group of artisans – pottery, weaving, basketry, folk art, oils, pastels, purses, furniture, blacksmith – and so much more. These are the shows I buy my Christmas presents at – afterall my family already has my stuff so I try to find different art forms to surprise them with.
Here’s something I found on Cashiers NC for you to read if you are unfamiliar with Cashiers, NC – all of the areas around my town of Brevard, are wonderul to visit, More to follow on Scenic 276 in Transylvania County- an exciting highway of art, eats, b&b’s, cabins, antiques, oh what wonder appears here! Check back later in the week for that info. Now for that info on CASHIERS

the following comes directly from their site:

“COMBINE THE DRASTIC granite dropoffs of the Blue Ridge escarpment with more than 80 inches of rain a year and something dramatic is bound to happen. Around the town of Cashiers (pronounced CASH-ers), perched at 3,500 feet on the Eastern Continental Divide, the jackpot shows up in the form of waterfalls—everything from tiny cliffside seeps to 400-foot-plus cataracts that roar into deep gorges. The downtown is little more than a crossroads, the junction of U.S. 64 and North Carolina 107, and a mile or so radius of antique shops, high-end restaurants, and second-home clusters discreetly tucked into the woods.

OUTDOORS: Hikers can go short, on spur trails to waterfall lookouts, or take on longer segments of the Foothills Trail or the Chattooga River Trail. Fly-fishers and kayakers pilgrimage to the Nantahala, Ocoee, and Chattooga rivers. Panthertown Valley, a 6,700-acre wilderness area, is the closest fat-tire-trail web, and the Tsali Recreation Area, a one-and-a-half-hour drive west, is an


off-roader’s dream, with more than 40 miles of epic singletrack. The thousand-foot cliffs of Whiteside Mountain provide the kind of hairy, multipitch, huge-exposure climbs that would almost make you swear someone had trucked the place out from Yosemite.”

Begin at the beginning – Why Folk Art?

The best way to re-introduce myself to you all on this new format is to tell you a little story of how I became passionate about painting in the folk art tradition.

Several years ago, about 1988, I went to a Folk Art Show on Marco Island, Fl. Living in Naples at the time, Marco is just a hop, skip and a jump from Naples -or it was at that time before things got a little crowded in those parts. The show was on a folk artist whose name eludes me now, but her pieces were several thousand dollars. Now I always enjoyed puttering in the arts, so I said to my self “I can do that”. But like most of us, we always say things like that when we see something we think we can do. Yet this time was different. I did something immediately. I went to the local craft and shell store on Marco and bought supplies to get started. A little guide to painting folk art; some canvas board and of course a little paint. And so it began.

Honestly, I was so dedicated to accomplishing this feat, so disciplined to work every eve. After my day job, after the kids were fed and put to bed, I went to work. I joined the art guild, the craft guild and began doing the local Naples shows back then. It was wonderful and successful as a side income in addition to my day job income. Helped pay for a lot of extra goodies, like college tuitions etc.

In 1996 we moved to the mountains outside of Asheville and again, I went to work learning about shows, galleries, coops, etc, in the area. I did not take a day job but worked hard developing an income and even by 1999 was selling well on eBay. And still will do some eBay now and then.

I am an untrained, unschooled artisan but I did teach myself to do some, I am told by my clients, pretty good work.

I began painting on canvas board, then canvas, floorcloths or floor cloths, gourds, wood bowls, trays, furniture, tin, metal, and so many more things. If I find it paintable, if I can properly prepare it for paint, I’ll paint it.

Well that’s my story, I’m sticking to it and know that you too, can do the same. It just takes some serious dedication, discipline and a willingness to do what it takes to do what you love. It’s not so much about talent as it is about listening to one of those “golden whispers” that play somewhere inside you, oftentimes like a record you play over again, listen to what is going on inside and you’ll frequently know what you were meant to be doing outside.

All right, that’s enough for now. Keep coming back and I’ll show you how to start painting, cleaning and prepping gourds or wood items for repurposing in the days and weeks to come.