" The First "

Giant Gourd Coffee Table

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Growing Talent
Tri-City Herald Reporter - Dori O’Neal
Pasco, Washington


No one ever pegged Jeanie Dixon for being an artist, including herself.

"Five years ago, I didn’t know I could paint," confessed Dixon, of Pasco. " I just kind of fell into art haphazardly, I guess."

That artistic talent earned her national recognition last year when a birdhouse she created and painted from a gourd was featured in Sunset Magazine.

But her latest creation could very well be a record breaker.

It’s a coffee table made from a gourd, and it’s one of the featured pieces at the Allied Art Gallery’s annual Holiday Magic Show starting this weekend.

The festive exhibit continues through Dec. 24 and includes an abundance of hand-woven and painted clothing, jewelry, stained glass, blown glass, prints and paintings.

There will also be unique ornaments and home decorations, including a few of Dixon’s smaller gourd creations.

Ginger Summit, a well-known gourd artist and author from California, said Dixon’s coffee table is one of a kind.

"It’s definitely a first," Summit said in a telephone interview from her Los Altos home. "I’ve traveled all over the world, and I’ve never seen or heard of a gourd creation as large and functional as Jeanie’s. Usually gourds that big are much too fragile to be used as furniture."

Summit said large gourds are hard to come by because of the difficulty in growing them. They require a special mix of soil, near perfect weather and lots of pampering. Dixon’s gourd table weighs a surprising 10 pounds. At harvest time, however, the burly cucurbit weighed more than 100 pounds, Dixon said.

"It takes gourds about three to six months to dry out," she said. That’s when their weight shrinks, and they become lighter."

She bought the gourd from North Carolina grower Harry Hurley for $50.

It’s painted with a whimsical garden scene, which Dixon said is part of her signature art. A white picket fence circles the bulb of the table, and tiny hourglass shaped bird houses decorate the distance.

She lopped a portion of the stem off and filled in the rough edges so it was even enough to lay a round piece of glass over the top. The whole thing sits on a custom made wood base. The price tag is $1,150.

"Someone will most definitely be buying something unique for their home," Dixon said.

The Allied Art Gallery is at 89 Lee Blvd. In Richland,Washington, at the entrance to Howard Amon Park. Regular gallery hours are from 11a.m. to 5p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

During the holiday show, the gallery also will have an open house from 1 to 4p.m. each Sunday until Dec. 19.

Reporter Dori O’Neal can be reached at 582-1514 or via e-mail at doneal@tricityhearld.com


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