When his extra large handle dipper gourds are about one feet long, Glen Burkhalter wraps them in pantyhose. Then, he waits for about two months until the gourds are fully grown. After he removes the pantyhose, he has a gourd-handle that resembles a really long unicorn horn.
“The trouble was going to neighbors and asking their wives for pantyhose,” Burkhalter says.
Gourds are a hard-shelled cousin of pumpkins and squash that come in many shapes and sizes. Some, including the dipper gourds, have long, skinny, handles.
Burkhalter, of Lacey’s Spring, Ala., is one of thousands nationwide who uses gourds as a canvas for art. He showed his spiral handle gourds in Florida at the annual Florida Gourd Festival in Palatka, which is an example of how gourd growing and crafting are becoming more mainstream.
Burkhalter sees gourd art as a rising national trend because gourds come in so many shapes and sizes and can be molded into so many different things.
Jim Story, recognized by the American Gourd Society as a “gourd-growing legend,” once challenged Burkhalter to tie two knots in one gourd — a mission Story had tried hundreds of times but could not accomplish.
Burkhalter tied the first knot when the gourd — another extra large handle dipper gourd — was only 6 inches long. At this point, the shell is malleable, but the gourd is too short to tie a double knot.
Day after day, Burkhalter would see this gourd and, instead of tying the second knot, he would bend the stem just a bit each day until it grew into a second knot.
“It’s easier to grow French fries on a strawberry farm than to tie two knots in a gourd,” he says. “I can almost guarantee you won’t see another double-knot gourd.”
Burkhalter said he tried more than a dozen times before he was successful.
The gourd, which sits in a trophy case, sells for $500.