Liz Cornish and Jo Roy, Gourd Artists

Gourd Vessels – Colors of Autumn

A dried, hard-shell gourd is one of Mother Nature’s ugly ducklings. Once cleaned and decorated, it can be a beautiful work of art reminiscent of old pottery. The subtle tones and textures of a gourd are enhanced by paint, dyes, carving or pyroengraving. Their texture is similar to a soft wood with a tough outer layer. When treated with dyes, the shell produces a beautiful mottled, natural pattern.

Gourds are lightweight, durable and last for decades. They have been used in antiquity by many cultures for utilitarian purposes, and as a medium for artistic expression. Each gourd has a unique shape, texture and skin tone. These characteristics are favorable for one-of-a-kind pieces of gourd art or gourd craft.

Liz and Jo are award-winning artists, who can trace their family roots in the Finger Lakes back to 1810. They discovered gourds and gourd art quite literally by “accident.” While convalescing at home from a car accident, Liz saw a TV program that featured the work of a gourd artist. Intrigued, she attended the Ohio Gourd Show the following fall. Once she saw how this awkward-looking, plain-brown-wrapper, dried gourd could be transformed into a broad range of beautiful art, she was hooked and life has never been the same. Arms loaded with gourds of all sizes and shapes, they returned home from Ohio and began their creative expedition into the world of gourds.

Jo works with intricate traditional designs while her mother, Liz, works in primitive, free-hand ethnographic styles. They also design and create whimsical characters and holiday gourd craft. Pieces can be embellished with many different materials, including weaving fibers, and lend themselves well to basketry projects.

Lifelong crafters, both Jo and Liz belong to the American Gourd Society. Liz belongs to the Upstate New York Gourd Patch Society and is also a crafts instructor. Their artistic inspiration comes from nature’s bountiful beauty found right here in the heart of the Finger Lakes.

Liz and Jo would like to hear from others interested in gourd art and gourd craft. Liz is available to teach gourd workshops and classes. Contact them at 585-924-7839 or send an e-mail to They also have a website:

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