Another great question that we get asked is “What do we use to color and finish coat our gourds?” It all starts in our finishing room. First, we need to color our gourds. We have a few different products that we use for coloring our gourds. The most common is leather dye. Leather dyes are alcohol based and we use a staining brush to apply the color. After the dyes have dried, the gourds are left looking as if they had a flat color coat applied to them. The greatest thing about the leather dyes is that once used it allows you to see the natural characteristics of the gourds through the color coat. If we could use dyes and stains with all of our gourds we would because it shows you how each gourd is different and it shows you how the markings make each gourd its own unique piece of art. Products that we use leather dyes on, include any burnt orange colored gourds, the tops to our scarecrows, turkeys, and our Santas.
One of our newer color coats is called Transtint. Transtint is nice because it is more colorfast than the leather dyes. Colorfast means the finish does not fade as quickly when in sunlight. Transtint is also a tricky finish, mainly because after you brush it on the gourds then need to wipe each one down otherwise it will leave streaks. After the Transtint has dried, it also has a very flat looking finish. Much like the leather dyes, Transtint also allows you to see the natural beauty of the gourd marking through the finish. Gourds that we use Transtint on include the Elves, Cottages, and Caramelized snowmen.
The last color coat we use on the gourds is Latex paint. This is the only color that we put on the gourds that we spray on in our spray booth. Much like you would at home, we went to our local hardware store and picked out the paint colors that we wanted to use and brought them back to the gourd shop. These paints are sprayed on with a paint gun in a spray booth, much like how a car is painted only on a smaller scale. After these paints dry, they also have that flat finish to them. The color that we spray on the most is white. The biggest down fall to using white paints is that it does not allow you too see through the color coat to see the character that each gourd has in its shell. If, we could get away from using paints we would, but we have yet to find a white that looks good on the gourds in a transparent finish. Gourds that we us latex white paint on are white snowmen, and the tops of the Casper Jacks.
You will notice that with each one of these types of color coats, I left the gourds in a very unappealing manner. They were all left with a flat finish. So, how do we make the gourd shiny? It all comes down to a finish coat. Our main finisher, Ken Kerstetter, is the man behind the finishing gun. Much like how we apply the Latex paints, Ken sprays each gourd that makes it through the gourd factory with a coat of Polycrylic. Polycrylic is a water based finish that leaves our gourd with that lovely satin finish you see when you find our gourds on the shelves. As you can see, we prefer the use of dyes and stains to color our gourds. That does not mean you can’t go out and use other color coats for your gourds. Most art stores will have a wide range of choices for you to choose. Some common ones include acrylic paint; oils based paints, leather dyes, inks, and coloring pens. Enjoy coloring your gourds, we sure do.
Written by Meadowbrooke’s Darren Hartsock.