Gourds bring Paseo Arts Fest 'best' award to Dover woman

Brenda Dewald said the win at Paseo Arts Festival is her first.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: May 29, 2012

First an oil artist, later a seamstress, Brenda Dewald has finally found her true calling: gourds.

Hollowed and dried and transformed into ornamental basket displays, her relatively new medium already is taking her career as an artist to a new level.

Friday, she won best in show at the 36th annual Paseo Arts Festival.

“They almost had to pick me up off the floor I was so excited,” she said, visiting with customers in her tent — No. 74 — of the outdoor artists' mall along Paseo Street.

Dewald works from a home studio in Dover surrounded by blackjack oak and sand hills.

She began painting with oils in high school, but when the first of her three children was born, she stopped.

For the next decade-plus, Dewald put up her paintbrush and picked up the sewing needle.

Almost two years ago, she was introduced to gourd art by John Hernandez, director of The Museum of the Great Plains in Lawton.

“He agreed to teach me the basic technique of the pine needle stitching, and from there I've just incorporated my own designs,” Dewald said. “And now my youngest is 16, so I can get out into the art world again.”

Two weeks ago, one of these gourds won Dewald first place in the master's competition hosted by the California Gourd Society.

Her gourds come in all sizes and shapes, each plump and dyed with polishes of earthy undertones.

“Some of the smaller ones I can finish in a half-day,” Dewald said.

“But my bigger pieces, that take a more active thought process and use more complicated stitching, can take three or four weeks to complete.”

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