Leslie Pierce

Gourd Pyrography

For thousands of years, dried gourds have been used as practical, musical and ceremonial instruments. Bowls, dippers, drums, and jewelry are a few items that have been fashioned out of gourds. Fascinated with things that "look like they have been around awhile," Leslie Pierce adorned gourds with wood burned designs inspired by Japanese, Celtic, African, and Native American art.

Leslie passed away on June 28, 2015. We're honored to be able to continue sharing her work here on A Natural State.

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Spotlight - Leslie Pierce | A Natural State
Spotlight - Leslie Pierce | A Natural State

Video

As an educator at the Columbia Museum of Art, Leslie uses her knowledge of art history to inform her creative decisions in the studio. She describes herself as "old school" in her appreciation of art...
Woodburning Gourds - Step 1 | A Natural State
Woodburning Gourds - Step 1 | A Natural State

Video

Gourds that come off the farm are coated in dirt, decayed tissue and mildew. Leslie prepares each gourd for wood burning by washing its surface with soap, scrubber and sponge. After cleaning, she uses...
Woodburning Gourds - Step 2 | A Natural State
Woodburning Gourds - Step 2 | A Natural State

Video

Leslie studies books of illustration and graphic design from around the world and from many eras before beginning a project. After finding inspiration, she pencils in the design on the surface of the...
Woodburning Gourds - Step 3 | A Natural State
Woodburning Gourds - Step 3 | A Natural State

Video

The outline of the design is filled in with the broad side of the wood-burning tool. The process of burning in the body of the design may take ten or more hours depending on the size and complexity of...
Working with Gourds | A Natural State
Working with Gourds | A Natural State

Video

As a trained painter and printmaker, Leslie usually works in two dimensions with various paints and pigments. Though gourds are often painted, Leslie seeks to emphasize the natural textures, colors...
The Farm | A Natural State
The Farm | A Natural State

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The three most common gourd types in North America are hardshells, ornamentals and luffas. Hardshells have woody, rot-resistant shells that can grow to an inch thick under ideal growing conditions...
Lena Braswell's Farm | A Natural State
Lena Braswell's Farm | A Natural State

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During the spring, tens of thousands of dried gourds are piled high in front of Lena Braswell's farm in Wrens, Georgia. Artists and crafters come from around the southeast to choose from Braswell's...