What if you could grow your own bowls, baskets, and lamps right in your backyard? In the vine-covered, magical world we’re traveling to today, that question becomes a reality. With bobbles of potential in all shapes in sizes hanging above our heads, you’re never going to want to leave Gourdlandia!

So, get out of your own gourd for a moment and jump into this edition of Saturdays Around the World! We’re heading to an enchanting land where your new cups, vase, or birdhouse could be growing on the vine; all it takes is a little shift in perspective to pluck them out!

The star of this show is the humble gourd, a relative of the pumpkin and squash who, with just a little imagination and time, can turn into almost anything your mind conjures up! The founder of this gourdgeous land, Graham Ottoson, is a master in transforming these modest plants into different, fabulous versions of themselves.

Image: Varieties of gourd shapes onn their drying shelves!

Varieties of gourd shapes on the Gourdlandia drying shelves! 
Courtesy of Graham Ottoson!
See more great photos on Facebook.

Oh my gourd!

“You can grow your peas and you can grow your carrots, and there’s your kale, and there’s something that you can turn into a basket in which to put your carrots and peas and kale. I mean, how incredibly generous is that? It just blows me away!” —Graham Ottoson, the Mistress of Gourdlandia!

Lumpy, long, tall, short, stout, shaped like an hourglass, an apple, a cannonball, or maybe one that the ruler of Gourdlandia calls “Schnozzola”, there’s sure to be a gourd out there that strikes your fancy.

The art form of turning this family of plants into dazzling creations is one of patience and abundance. First comes growing the gourds, then comes several months of drying, until finally, it’s time to clean them, add a stain, and dive into the transformation! With enough gourds, this process gives makers a wealth of options, and the ability to bring whatever idea flies through their head to life.

Atlas Obscura, one of my favorite channels to catch up with, brings us right into Gourdlandia to take a peek into this charming process in this video!

To learn about more amazing places in this world, head over to Atlas Obscura’s full video library! You can also give them a follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up to date with their work.

Of course, I know you want to explore more of this magical place!

Before we move on, you seriously need to see what Graham creates! You can find her galleries of quirky and innovative work by clicking here. (I particularly fell in love with this lamp!)

Discover more about Gourdlandia and how Graham got into this craft over on their website. You can even ask her to send you some seeds of your own—at the time of this article publishing, she’s offering free gourd seeds! (This article does a nice job going over the growing and drying process once you get them!)

For a little longer journey to Gourdlandia and a closer look at her process, check out this next video from Alec Salisbury.

A lightbulb moment!

How wonderful is it that if we shift our perspective on what something is supposed to be (a gourd, for example) and consider what it could be (a lamp? a fun mask? a spoon maybe?), we can unlock a whole new world of possibilities!

Image: A drill bit and tool holder created out of a gourd!

Graham recently treated herself to a new drill bit and tool holder! How gorgeous is this?!
Image courtesy of Graham Ottoson

It’s the same sort of thought process that has made societies successful throughout time; people, looking at objects and wondering, what if?

What if this sturdy plant could actually be my new cool pencil holder? What if we could free up thousands of hours of time with a machine that washes clothes for us? Or what if our abundance of plastic waste could actually be transformed into something useful? Or how about toxins in a river? Could those be useful? Well, two professors from Ohio University have turned toxic sludge into pigments for paint! When we tilt our heads and ask more questions, we’re able to see the possibilities in the world far more clearly.

Almost like a lightbulb moment, once you see the potential hidden in plain sight, you’ll be able to make connections no one else has. Maybe, your story will even join our collection of thought leaders around the world who have seen new potential in notions that have always been around. Like these folks!

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Transforming Trash into Living Robots!

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Ever Heard of the Earthship?

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So, what do you think? Are we out of our gourds?

I suppose you could be right; we like to do things a little differently here at Ever Widening Circles! But forever and always, our main goal will be to deliver stories of wonder from all across the globe right to you, to help you see the amazing world that’s already around you, right now. But now, we can do it faster and simpler than ever, with our app!

We’ll send you daily push notifications about something awesome in the world! Try starting or ending your day—or taking a break from those unsettling headlines we all know too well—with real good news from around the world, curated just for you by our team here at EWC. All it takes is one click of a button! You can find us for Apple iOS and Google Play.

Like these gourds, you’ll soon discover there’s a magical world of potential right under your schnozzola.

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein

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Notes:

  1. Atlas Obscura. “Gourdlandia Is Truly a Gourd Place to Be | Atlas Obscura.” YouTube, 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDIlMrgzmmg&feature=emb_title. Accessed 14 Apr. 2020.
  2. Salisbury, Alec. “The Gourd Lady.” Vimeo, 8 Apr. 2020, vimeo.com/166380947. Accessed 14 Apr. 2020.

Sam Burns

Editor in Chief

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.