Playing with Gourds, Dried Leaves and Mod Podge

I love playing with gourds!  Absolutely love it!  And, apparently, I am not alone.  So - I have planned a few posts to share crafty gourd goodness!

Since it is now officially Fall, I have chosen to decorate my gourd with dried fall leaves; but just so you know, dried flowers work just as well. 

I have these flowers drying right now. I just picked them from my fall garden - rudbeckia, delphinium, hydrangea, pansies, asters and lobelia - to create a fall flower gourd.

Follow the tips in this post for drying your flowers and fall leaves. Kids get a huge kick out of pressing flowers and leaves and they will LOVE playing with gourds!

Dried gourds can often be purchased at local farms or at farmer's markets.  If they need cleaning, follow the cleaning technique in Diane's tutorial for CraftStylish

If you can not find them locally, you can order them from Northern Dipper, Welburn Gourd Farm, Amish Gourds or  Martha's Gourds. If you live in the Portland area you can get all you want at the Pumpkin Patch!  They are sitting there waiting for you right now!


1.  Select the dried materials you plan to use.  (For this gourd, I am using fall leaves and ferns.)

2. Assemble your "supplies" - Mod Podge and a brush.  I like to use the foam brushes for this project because they allow me to dab and build up the Mod Podge to create texture and depth.  Important note:  use your foam brush for only ONE project as the foam seems to break down over time and leave little bits of foam behind!

I pour my Mod Podge into a paper cup to keep any stray plant debris from getting into my big bottle.

3. Brush a little Mod Podge over the area you wish to decorate.

4. Place your dried plant material directly onto the wet Mod Podge and gently press into place.

5. Let dry a few minutes and brush on a layer of Mod Podge right over the dried material.

6. Let dry about 15 minutes or so, brush on a coat of Mod Podge and add more plant material, pressing it into the wet Mod Podge.

7.  Let dry 15 to 30 minutes and brush over the new leaves or flowers with another coat of Mod Podge.

8. Continue adding layers of Mod Podge and dried plant material to your gourd until you have created a composition you like.

9. Once you have your design completed, apply one or two more coats of Mod Podge over the entire surface area of the gourd and then set the gourd aside to dry for at least three to four days. When the gourd is completely dry, seal with acrylic spray.

A few useful tips!

I prefer using original matte Mod Podge and a matte acrylic spray for my gourds.  But experiment.  You may prefer using gloss or satin finishes.  "Sparkle" Mod Podge might be interesting as a final coat! Check out the formula guide on Mod Podge Rocks for more possibilities.

Begin building your design with the plant elements that will be in the background of your composition. In this case, that would be the ferns. (Ferns and Jacob's Ladder dry beautifully and make a lovely background.)

I use a fairly heavy hand with my Mod Podge layers.  I have found that it helps to create an illusion of depth and when you are adding ferns, it gets into all those little crevices between leaves..

The down side of the heavy layers of Mod Podge is that drying takes a few days. Don't start this project in the morning and expect to give it as a gift in the evening!

Mod Podge is fabulous at restoring the original color of dried leaves and ferns!  As a result, my ferns were restored to bright green and I had to tone them down a bit to blend with my fall leaves.  I did this with a brown Sharpie right over the Mod Podge - before spraying with acrylic.

But sometimes, Mod Podge changes the color of certain flowers.  I dried some gorgeous red Cardinal flowers that turned a deep brown once they were sealed in Mod Podge.  If colors are important to you, test them on a scrap of paper and let them dry completely before applying to your gourd.

If you enjoy playing with gourds, here are a few more ideas you might like:

Decorate gourds with colorful doodle designs

Make a Matryoshka

Make a Pinata

And if you are into fall leaves:

Mason jar candles are lovely

And so are wreaths made with colorful leaves



Absolutely beautiful!!! I

Absolutely beautiful!!! I have a big box of dried gourds, and I will have to give this project a try. Thanks for sharing.

Love these! Don't know how I

Love these! Don't know how I missed this post earlier, but I'm glad I just came across it via Craftig. Would you believe I've never owned Mod Podge?! Really need to change my mod-less ways after seeing how pretty your gourds look.

Thank you for this post! What

Thank you for this post! What an awesome idea!! I've stenciled and painted them before; but never even gave mod podge a thought. HOW COOL!!

Okay, I have bookmarked this

Okay, I have bookmarked this post. JUST what I needed to see. Thank you.

Saw you on One Pretty Thing

Saw you on One Pretty Thing today Pam! Yeah for you! But I don't want everyone to discover my talented Mod Podger to feature? ! :D

That is so cool! I love

That is so cool! I love gourds too. Monitoring my grandfathers gourds used to be An Event. He would check those things multiple times a day and we would all speculate which would get the biggest, which would last longest, and what crazy craft he would make out of them. I love this! I'll be linking.

Beautiful! My father farmed

Beautiful! My father farmed decorative corn and gourds when I was a child, I still love gourds. We can't get that type here, perhaps I should bring some seed from that variety back with me on a trip home then hope for a warm, late summer! I love your selection of flowers that you're drying too :)

These look like a lot of fun!

These look like a lot of fun! I'm not really much drawn to gourds, but just the activity of decoupaging these babies would make me happy! Great gifts, and so versatile in terms of imagery.

Your finished ones are cool.

This is AWESOME! I love what

This is AWESOME! I love what you've done here. Also, thank you for posting the giveaway :D

What a beautiful idea!

What a beautiful idea!

Love the gourds with the

Love the gourds with the flowers!! They're really lovely!! Leaves would also be pretty, as you said.

Another idea might be to incorporate just a little bit of tissue paper into your base coat, before adding flowers or leaves. Just rip or cut small squares and reactangles of different colours of tissue paper, overlap them a bit. Do this in sections only, not covering the whole gourd. You want to keep much of the original gourd showing through. Then when this layer is dry, place some of your leaves or flowers directly on the tissue areas or overlapping them slightly. That way you'll have a more abstract design. Squares and rectangles would offset the natural, more rounded shapes of the organic shapes (leaves and flowers).

So lovely!

So lovely!

What a cool project. I love

What a cool project. I love to read your tutorials because it makes me realize where Diane got a lot of her talent! :)

My mom grew gourds (with seeds from Hawaii) this year - not sure how they are doing. I guess I need to find out. She got a lesson on Hawaiian-style gourd crafting when she was there, so she has some plans for us to try out what she learned (and make them into drums? I can't remember exactly).