Gourd artisan extraordinaire TeriLu Adler makes functional art using hardshell gourds. With hard woody shells that can range up to more than an inch thick, gourds can be sawed, drilled, burned, etched or combined into any type of natural container shape.
TeriLu says gourds accommodate other art mediums and techniques, such as wood burning, carving, weaving, felting, beading, painting, dyeing and even markers, pastels and colored pencils.
“I enjoy fabricating useful products with gourds as the base, such as table lamps, treasure boxes or clocks,” she says. “In this way, people can enjoy art in their everyday life.”
As a child, the Madison, Indiana, native says she loved to draw and assemble “objects d’art,” but she didn’t discover gourds until adulthood.
“My work with gourds began in Wisconsin about 15 years ago after I attended a gourd “college” in Cherokee, North Carolina, with a friend,” TeriLu says. The Cherokee Gourd Artists Gathering gives gourd artists from across the United States and Canada an opportunity to exchange ideas and collaborate on gourd art.
That same year, TeriLu became self-employed and co-founded the Wisconsin Gourd Society, and later participated in art fairs for about 10 years. After a while, she says it felt more like she was making inventory rather than art so she stopped doing shows and began working with gourds. When TeriLu made the move back to Madison, she retired from the corporate world and decided to pursue her love for art full-time.
“Each piece is one of a kind. I couldn’t duplicate a piece if I tried,” TeriLu says. “I love to learn from others, see what they’ve done, and then jumble it all up into my version of all these pieces and parts. I enjoy creating the unexpected and making things that make people smile.”
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