Bonnie Drake Creates Gourd Art at Kentucky Artisan Center

Bonnie Drake attaches a philodendron leaf to the rim of a painted gourd at the Kentucky Artisan Center
Bonnie Drake attaches a philodendron leaf to the rim of a painted gourd at the Kentucky Artisan Center

On Saturday, Aug. 3, Bonnie Drake, of Bloomfield, will demonstrate how she attaches philodendron leaves to the rim of her decorated gourds from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.

In 1993, Drake stopped painting on canvas and began painting exclusively on gourds. She grows all her own gourds – more than 10,000 per year of some 20 different varieties. The gourds she most commonly uses are the martin house gourd, the banana gourd, and the apple gourd. Sometimes Drake cuts the top off the gourd to make a bowl; other times the gourd is left whole.

As Drake travels around Kentucky, she sketches and takes photographs of scenes she’d like to paint. After drawing her image with pencil, she uses a Detail Master tool, a long very thin hot needle, to etch her images on the gourd. She then uses acrylic paint, marbler clay and watercolor pencils to add color to the surface. An acrylic sealer is used to finish off the gourds.

Dried philodendron leaves are then softened and shaped to the rims of her cut gourds and holes are drilled to bind the leaf with thin wire. Sometimes she uses the stem of the leaf for a handle in her design.

Gourd works by Drake are regularly available at the center, located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea, Exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel information areas are open daily, year-round, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cafe is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Celebrating 10 years in 2013, the center currently features works by more than 650 artisans from more than 100 counties across the Commonwealth. Special exhibits include, “The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea: Celebrating 10 Years,” on display through Aug. 24; and “The Founding of the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea” and “Highlights of the First 10 Years” are on display in the lobby through Nov. 17, 2013. For more information about the center’s events, call 859-985-5448, visit us on Facebook at, or go to the center’s website at

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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