PROVIDENCE – Melinda Petro, the owner of Greenleaf Gourds and Greenhouse located at 48 West Center in Providence, is getting her inventory of gourds ready for upcoming craft fairs and festivals. Currently, she is working on Halloween-themed decorations.
The artist has traveled to shows all over selling her wares. She participates in gourd festivals in other states; there isn’t one in Utah.
She has been carving and decorating gourds since 2006 in her garage workshop. When Petro first gets her inventory home, it is in rough shape. She has to clean them up – some she even stains – before cutting them in shapes she can use.
She said gourds were used by Native Americans for bowls, water dippers and containers to hold things.
“The gourd guy in Idaho, where I buy some of my inventory from, lets the gourds age for a year before I pick them up,” she said. “I get hundreds of gourds from a farmer in Paul, Idaho who grows acres of different sizes and shapes of gourds.”
Petro wears a respiratory mask to keep from breathing in the fine particles left by her tools as she works. A dentist drill is the tool of choice for fine sculpting, a jigsaw drill to cut larger holes and geometric shapes in the gourds.
Petro was studying Graphic Design at Utah State University, but before she graduated life took a turn and she changed directions to concentrate on her own fine art.
“I can draw people pretty good and I started doing my own thing at first, with rocks and wood, and gradually found gourds,” she said. “I can do more with a gourd. I can cut, sculpt, paint, stain and use resin on them.”
Petro also has a greenhouse in her front yard, she sells bedding plants from April to mid-June. She grows some gourds, but not enough for the volume of her creations.
“Gourds are cross pollinators so you can get different sizes shapes and color on the same vine,” Petro said. “Some grow small and some big.”
Her creations can sell for as little as $5 to as much as $300. Some carvers’ creations can go from $100 to $1,000. An unusual looking gourd fetches more money.
In December, before Christmas, she holds a Sip and Shop in her greenhouse to sell some of her gourds as well as the work of other local artists. This year, the event will be held Dec. 7 to the 24. A portion of the proceeds go to a foster child program.