Several years ago, I had stopped at a road side stand that was selling “raw” gourds which people commonly use to make simple birdhouses. The gourds intrigued me, so I brought several of them home and began to explore ways to decorate them. After trying my hand at wood burning and simple painted designs, I soon discovered paper clay and my gourd decorating adventures began to take off.
My first painted gourds shown above.
I began to make gingerbread men and human caricatures to get a feel for working with the clay. My sister is an avid rooster collector, and she made a special request for a chicken-shaped gourd. I rose to the challenge, and the first chicken gourd was made. Rude and crude as this first attempt was, it delighted my sister and provided the motivation to find ways to make a better chicken.
My first sculpted gourds shown above.
This is how the Country-fied Chickens got their start, and in the past 4-5 years, they have been making the rounds at local festivals and have found new homes all across the U.S. by virtue of Etsy, Facebook and the internet. The Country-fied Chickens are also being sold at Nora Mill General Store in Cleveland, Georgia, so if you are in the northeast Georgia region, be sure to stop by to see the gourds in person.
The very first chicken gourd made for my sister, shown above.
Each year, I travel to one of several south Georgia gourd farms to personally select gourds for chicken-making purposes. The gourds are lined up at the farm in drying bins that stretch out for acres upon acres, and it takes an hour or two to walk through the rows of bins and choose the gourds that are just-right. The gourds are bagged by the dozens and carried home in the bed of my pick-up truck to be washed, drilled, cleaned, sanded and sculpted. One chicken can take 2-3 hours to make from beginning to end, so a lot of time goes into each one.
Gourds piled up in drying bins at the gourd farm.
The gourds have made the transition from festivals to retail stores, and I have recently re-opened my Etsy shop where they now have a permanent “roost.”
There are different sizes and styles of gourds. The smallest chickens are 2″ to 3″ in height and are known as “Chicken Dumplins.” The 4″ to 6″ gourds are known as “Little Biddies,” and the larger birdhouse gourds are known as “Hens.” New chickens are being added to the “flock” every few weeks, so if you do not yet see one to your liking, keep checking — or request a custom order, and I will create one for you in your choice of color and style using gourds that are currently available in my stash.
The chicken gourds have transformed over the years.
Each chicken gourd that is sold comes with a tag that includes the chicken’s name, date of creation, photo, artist’s signature and “care and feeding” instructions. This is what makes them perfect as folk art collectibles or as any occasion gifts.
I invite you to browse through my Etsy shop to view the chickens that are currently available. Be sure to bring a chicken home with you — they LOVE making people smile! ~ Susan