Cleaning the Interior... Safety First!
After opening the gourd you need to remove the pulp and seeds. Dust
from the pulp can be a respiratory irritant, so it is advised that you
either wear a dust mask (the paper ones work fine) or dampen the
pulp prior to cleaning. If you plan to clean out a lot of gourds, you
should purchase a respirator type mask available from gourd
supply vendors. Please take this precaution to prevent illness...
Any number of common household objects can be used to loosen the pulp
and seeds for removal. Duct tape can be wrapped around a knife or saw
blade to protect the surface of the cut area from damage. Just work the
object around inside the gourd until you have everything loose and broken
in small enough pieces to remove through the cut out area. How
thoroughly you clean the gourd depends on your intended use. Seeds may
be saved and planted or used for decorating the gourd. Seeds need to be
dried prior to saving if damp when removed. Pulp may be used for making
paper or compost.
Once the pulp and seed have been removed the interior of the gourd may
be scoured, just like the exterior, to achieve smoothness. The interior may
also be sanded with sandpaper. The inside nipple (the little piece that
sticks up inside at the bottom of the gourd) can be removed by twisting it
off with pliers. If you'ved dampened the gourd during cleaning, it needs to
be allowed to dry before continuing with crafting.To view the cleaning
process step by step click
Cleaning the Exterior
Most gourd projects begin with a gourd that has the outer skin removed
so that the hard, smooth shell is exposed. I like to think of the cleaning
process as turning an ugly duckling into a swan.
To clean the outer skin from a gourd, simply dampen the skin with water
and scrub it off with a Copper pad (the type you use to scrub pots).
There are a number of ways to dampen the skin. I prefer running water
or a quick submersion in a bucket or tub. If the skin is stubborn, the
gourd may be submerged and soaked for 15 minutes, or more. Warm
water seems to speed the process a little. Do not soak longer than
necessary as soaking may soften the shell. Detergent or bleach may be
added to the cleaning water, but is not necessary. A plastic garbage bag
may be used as a vessel for soaking the gourd if you don't have a large
enough tub. You can also wrap the gourd in a wet towel and allow it to
set a while. Once dampened, simply scour off the skin and rinse. Do not
attempt to remove the outer skin with sandpaper, as this will
scratch the shell. After cleaning the outer skin off, the gourd will need
to be allowed to dry before crafting. If you find the pattern on the skin
attractive, it may be left intact. Overtime the skin may loosen and flake off
on its own. You can use an acrylic sealer or some other type of
protective finish to help prevent this.
For step by step cleaning instructions click