“Jodi Imms Featured in May at Village Gallery of Local Artists”


Gourd artist Jodi Imms will be the Featured Artist at the Village Gallery of Local Artists for the month of May 2024. A reception will be held on Friday, May 3rd, from 5 to 8 p.m. to showcase her work. Imms will be present to discuss her work and demonstrate her process.

When art collectors come to the Village Gallery and select one of Imms’ original gourd pieces, they are delighted by the earthy tones, Southwestern designs, and intricately carved features. Her work comes in multiple styles, in all shapes and sizes, with varying textures. Some of the customers are longtime gourd collectors. Others are seeing gourd art for the first time. It’s no surprise then that the most common question Imms receives is – What is a gourd? “A gourd is a relative of a pumpkin and squash,” she explains. “The difference between them is that a gourd has a thick shell and is nonedible, whereas pumpkins and squash have soft shells and are edible.”

Imms started working on gourd art about fourteen years ago when she moved to Arizona from Rhode Island. She had worked primarily in technical and scientific fields, including biological oceanography, physical therapy, and 25 years in software engineering, before pursuing art full-time. “I dabbled in wood crafts, but didn’t even know what a gourd was.”

Then, she discovered gourds and the art she could create with them. “I remember going to an art show and seeing some beautiful gourd art. . . I decided I wanted to learn how to create gourd art. I began taking classes at the annual gourd show that is held in Casa Grande.” After a few years, she was hooked and began to sell her artwork.

Her process is lengthy and specific, always beginning with a thorough cleaning of the gourd itself. “I purchase gourds that have gone through a drying process at the farm.” It is essential to her that the gourds she uses are locally farmed in Casa Grande. Imms also notes that safety is imperative. “The insides of gourds have a lot of mold and fungus in them, so using a good quality mask is a must. I soak the gourd in a bucket of water and then scrub or scrape off the mold. Then, I cut the top off the gourd and clean out the inside using scrapers and rotary tools. It’s during this cleaning process that I decide what I’ll do with the gourd based on the shape and coloring of the skin.”

Once the gourd is ready for art, Imms goes to work. “I’ll either burn or carve a design on the gourd. I color the gourd using ink dyes, alcohol dyes, metallic inks, or acrylic paints. Sometimes, I will put a rim on the gourd using seagrass or pine needles with antler or driftwood handles.” Being from New England, Imms says she misses the fall colors. “I would fill this void by painting and carving leaves on gourds. This is still my favorite type of gourd to create.”

Sometimes, things do not go according to plan. “I can get 90% through a design and then while carving, a piece of the gourd breaks off, ruining what I have done so far. I have to regroup and replan to come up with something else for that gourd.”

The public is invited to meet Jodi Imms, view her work, and observe her demonstration from 5-8pm on Friday, May 3rd. Refreshments will be served. The Village Gallery is located at 6512 State Route 179 in the Village of Oak Creek and is always accepting applications for unique art and new membership. For more information, go to sedonalocalartists.com or phone (928) 284-1416.