Golden Goddess Gourds - Musical Art from Nature

Golden Goddess Gourds is a place where you can come to buy a handmade "Gourd Musical Instrument," or have one custom made according to their personal tastes, by artist Beltana. She sat down with us recently to give us the background on her craft and her new Etsy shop.


Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
One day, my mother (who is an accomplished artist herself) was nudging me on with one of her "Maybe you could get into such and such" suggestions of her artistic notions, as she is known to do. Usually, I don't pay much attention to her, as my passion has always been closer to the musical form of the arts. On this day, however, my ears perked up; as she said the one word I guess I needed to hear, “Gourds.” Wait! My brain instantly rifled through the magnitudes of artistic information that have gathered there through the years, and I remembered something about the fact that… hey! “Musical Instruments” can be made out of gourds! And I was off.


I had been stuck in the hospital for some time (four months, altogether!) for a strange, rare immune condition called Guillain BarrĂ© Syndrome, which paralyses one with little warning, usually from the neck down, and even sometimes including the face, the lung functions, and more. That was me, except for the loss of my lung and eating capacities, for which I was grateful, and very lucky. Over the period of time that I was either at the hospital, or in rehabilitation, I thought about this possible new career. I was formerly a licensed massage therapist, with my own business, my own shop, and I had to give all of that up. I sang in musical groups for years, and still planned to get back to that eventually, but meanwhile, as my arm strength and function came slowly back… Why not make something grand and functional, (and musical!) out of something that costs nearly nothing, and is a beautiful natural canvas? So...


I started with one book; “How to Make Gourd Musical Instruments” by Jim Widess, and Ginger Summit. Wow! There were so many ideas in this book; I wanted to make them all. (And plan to!) I started with a simple shekere. Next, a rainstick, which came out much more beautiful than I’d imagined. Now, I am working on my favorite creation as of yet, an “Earth Warrior Drum.” I can’t wait until it’s finished. I realized that I loved gourds, more than I could imagine. There was just something “harmonious” there with me and the gourds. There was this “Gourd Glow” that you’ll hear gourders talk about. (Try it, you’ll see!) Well, I caught it, with ferocity!


Soon, I started to collect them… some of each kind I could find. Right now, our living room, and one corner of it where my “workshop” resides, is full of shelves of gourds and supplies. I have collected dozens more gourding books, and many more supplies (I’d underestimated the “economical” factor a bit when I found all of the cool gourd dyes, embellishments, and supplies that I would need to have) with which to do my craft. I say craft, because that is what I do when I “make” a piece, but the creation involves an amount of creativity that, I think, makes it more of a “fine art,” to me.


It is a very exciting medium, the gourd. A lot of us "Gourdheads" call the wondrous gourd "Nature's Canvas," and for good reason! It is indeed a great form to work with… curvy, very pleasing… there is something very natural about it, I think, that puts us in tune with nature when we hold one.


As far as musical instruments go, there is nothing better. The resonance one gets when playing a gourd drum, for instance, is unsurpassed. The tones are smooth, “round” and very resonant… very tribal, very natural. It is as if certain gourds were “made” for the instrument, or piece of art, that comes from it. There is some proof that he gourd was domesticated over 10,000 years ago, and according to Wikipedia, “Gourds were the earliest plant species domesticated by humans and were originally used by man as containers or vessels before clay or stone pottery, and is sometimes referred to as ‘nature's pottery’.” Imagine that, when you have your hands on one of these magnificent plants.


So, now, although I am getting back to singing and playing music this spring, with my group, BellaWyck I am definitely going to continue on this gourding path, and making the best musical instruments that I can. I also plan on teaching what I have learned, sharing newsletters every season, posting tutorials with photos on my “official” website, and much more. I hope you’ll keep an eye on me, as I grow and learn. I can promise that some wonderful things will come of it.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Play with my little girl, Bela, hang out with my husband, Johnny, sing and play music with my girlfriends in my band, BellaWyck, and of course, make Gourd Musical Instruments!!

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your shop?
I still get tired pretty easy, but I take it one day at a time, and try to remember not to push myself too hard.

What item in your shop would you most like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
A custom-made Gourd Drum! A large one, with all sorts of decor and embellishment on it... a colorful custom Kumihimo-braided strap, and decorated rim.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
A Rock Star.

And... I haven't grown up completely, yet!

What other shops out there do you love?
Oohhh... there are so many beautiful ones at Etsy... I'd have to say the most *awesome* one I've seen so far is Eclettica; she is an "Atelier" of the finest quality, with very unique, and just luscious jewelry designs. You can find Sheela Goh, Eclettica's artist, here at: eclettica.etsy.com

My favorite "gourd" website so far on Etsy would have to be New Season Designs, and although she has but a few gourds on there (as do I!) she has some just amazingly beautiful artwork for sale. I've been drooling over her "Angel Tree Gourd" for some time now. Find her at: newseasondesigns.etsy.com

I'm newish on Etsy, but if you keep checking back, I'll add more favorites as I discover them!

What does your future hold?
I will take my music and my gourd music business both to the highest levels of wild success. Many famous, as well as casual musicians all over the world will possess my creations, handing them down for generations to come, and some of these children will teach future generations to create them in turn, and so on, so that this art is never lost.


As a special introduction to her business, Beltana is offering her first ten listings on Etsy with FREE US shipping!! Visit GoldenGoddessGourds.etsy.com and at the new website www.goldengoddessgourds.com. Beltana is currently working on five more pieces which will be featured soon: a gourd drum, a pair of maracas, a child's rattle, a faery ring (art), and a Gemstone Shekere™, one of her specialties so keep checking back for new updates!