Sunday my husband and I toured visited artists in Visalia, CA Region One of the South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour. At the home of another acquaintance of mine, Toni Best, we had no idea gourds could look so fabulous. Her front door was open so we walked in. Her voice led us to her living room display studio where she wove a backdrop for one of her gourd projects.
Unlike any other baskets I have seen, Toni’s have gaps and dips.
After we looked around her living and dining room she stopped working and led us to her studio – the garage. She starts by cleaning and staining her gourds, which she purchases in bulk.
She wears a mask to protect herself from mold as she cuts a hole in the top of the gourd and grinds out the inside.
Then she stains them. This table is set up for a class she will teach in June. She does the gourd preparation for her students because it is so time-consuming.
Now I understand the difference between the eye of an artist, and ordinary eyes like mine. In a million years my eyes would not have projected the beauty Toni creates from these raw materials.
Toni holds exhibitions all over the country including, St. Paul Minnesota, and at Harvard in Massachusetts. She has been invited to teach at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN this summer. If you do not want to travel to Tennessee, Toni holds classes in her Visalia studio every other month.
Here are additional pictures from her studio.