The Shady Porch: Gourd Birdhouse: How-To

5.10.2013

Gourd Birdhouse: How-To

It's my favorite time of the year! Although it's a hectic time (I help my teacher-coach hubby by taking on the role of track statistician and Power Point creator for final review games) I can't help but stand in awe of the arrival of spring time! I raise the windows and listen to the birdsong; I smell the dogwoods and lilacs, and feel so very blessed.


Last year, I worked with pallet wood to make birdhouses/bird barns, and, this year, I am working with gourds. I grew these gourds several years ago, have given them ample time to dry, and now they are ready for projects!

To complicate my first gourd project a little more, I am just now learning how to use a wood burning tool (aka 'pyrography' tool) I received a few Christmases ago. So, my first wood burning project is a gourd birdhouse! Initially, I was just trying out each of the tips to see what effect they would produce.
I settled on flower patterns and a pseudo-weave pattern for the top of the gourd (roof). I had great fun doing this, but I must truthfully state that safety concerns nearly derailed the whole thing. Did you know that wood burning tools reach temps of 950 degrees Fahrenheit? I had no idea, and I really started this project ill-prepared. (The lessons I learned about the wood burning tool and the wood-burning process will be a topic for a later post.) Today I want to share the gourd birdhouse.


I tied a little raffia around the neck to give the 
little tweety some easy access to nesting needs too!
Hope they like their new home!
Making the birdhouse
1. To begin, clean the gourd. Soak the gourd in water for 10-15 minutes (if the gourd has any weak places from lying on the ground too long, reduce soak time so you don't weaken it further) and then take a mesh scrubber to remove the dirt and fine dried skin. The mesh scrubber won't scratch the gourd surface.

2. Next, using a drill with a hole-cutting bit (a  smaller version of the kind used to install doorknobs), I created the bird house door. This step can be completed with an sharp box cutter or X-acto knife, if the hole-cutting bit is not available. I had to file and sand some to smooth and enlarge the hole. Removing the seeds was really simple. Since the gourds were really dry, the seeds just fell out with some shaking. NOTE - if you do not plan to plant the seeds, you still might want to save them to use in crafting. For instance, they'd make great shingles for a roof on another gourd birdhouse.

3. I used jewelers files to poke a few holes in the bottom and sides of the gourd for drainage and ventilation. I also used a file to create the holes at the top to run the wire through to make a hanger.

4. The final process was the wood burning (pyrography). I used various tips - stamping points to create the center of the flowers and weave-like pattern, and the shading point to create flower petals. It was a learning process regarding how long to hold the tip on the gourd, where to begin and end the pattern (the curve of the gourd would not accommodate some tips), but I was pleased and excited with my first attempt! I can't wait to do another one. Don't forget to seal the gourd...I used a spray-on polyurethane.


After all of the steps (and some missteps!), the gourd house is now awaiting new occupants in a tree on the hill behind the house. I know the birds don't care what had to happen to create this nesting space, but I like looking out the kitchen window and seeing it among the leaves.

Other fun craft projects you might enjoy!