Providence woman gives a common gourd a new look

Melinda Petro is busy in her workshop carving gourds of all shapes and sizes to sell at different shows will attend this fall.

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.

Gourd sculpture Melinda Petro shows one of her finished Halloween sculptures she is going to take to an upcoming show.

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.”

Some of Melinda Petro’s gourds before they are cleaned up, carved and painted to sell.

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.”

Providence artist Melinda Petro makes the inside of the gourd a piece of art she plans to take to an upcoming show.

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.

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  • Dorrie Barnes September 16, 2019 at 11:26 am Reply

    Very creative! I’ll have to come over and check out what is available to buy!

  • Trudy Moulton October 5, 2019 at 7:19 am Reply

    This is my AWESOME cousin… She is So talented!!! She can see things that a gourd can into that the normal eye can not until she is done!!! Definitely check out her stuff!!!

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