WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Dottie Kuhl said she can take six gourds that are the same basic shape and make each one have its own personality.
Kuhl will demonstrate and sell the gourds she paints and sculpts from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the "time is ripe" celebration at the Putnam County Farmers Market. Other local artists also will be featured at the event.
"I may do six, but none of them are going to be exactly alike," Kuhl said. "I love being able to be creative and do things that are one-of-a-kind."
Kuhl of Winfield began painting and sculpting gourds around 15 years ago when she was coordinating a Kanawha Valley Decorative Artists booth at the craft show around the mound in South Charleston.
"I suggested we paint gourd ornaments and it kind of snowballed from there," she said.
Kuhl said she used to do a lot of woodwork, but every year it got harder to lift the wood.
"The longer you do it, the heavier the stuff is. Gourds are so much lighter and easier."
Looking through a store, Kuhl said she spotted a Santa Clause-shaped bell.
"Santa's legs were hanging down from the bell, and I thought, I can do that with a gourd."
Now, Kuhl has a website, www.dottiekuhl.com, where she sells her artwork, instruction patterns, supplies, books and DVDs on gourds and other crafts. She also sells her work at numerous craft shows around the region and is a member of the Society of Decorative Painters, The Kentucky Gourd Society and The American Gourd Society.
"I think the farmers' market invited me to come so people would be encouraged to start growing gourds," she said. "There's not many people around here that do and West Virginia is one of the few states that doesn't have a gourd society."
Kuhl said although she utilizes gourds all the time, she doesn't grow them.
"I don't know particulars about growing them; that's a whole different ballgame. Once, I had one gourd plant and it took over eight panels of my privacy fence and I only got four gourds out of it," she said. "I decided I'd leave that to professional growers."
Susan Maslowski, president of the Putnam Farmers Market, said gourds are an untapped resource in the state.
"I've gone to exhibitions in Columbus, and vendors who sell gourds come from other states," Maslowski said. "It's an untapped market here in West Virginia that farmers don't know about."
The Putnam farmers' market is using their venue as a way to introduce local artists to potential local clientele, Maslowski said.
"We want to stimulate the consumer into coming to the market for other things rather than only the available produce," she said. "We want to continue bringing in guests. It just adds a little to the market."
Bobbin lace maker Trish Fisher will also attend the "time is ripe" celebration to demonstrate the centuries-old art form, Maslowski said.
Fisher of Scott Depot said she first saw bobbin lace being made more than 30 years ago at a craft show in Ripley. She said it interested her a great deal, and several years later she began taking classes to learn how to make it.
"When you see portraits of people during the Renaissance and they're wearing lace, it was all handmade," Fisher said.
Bobbin lace is a form of off-loom weaving, she said. The first bobbin laces were created out of silver and gold thread, but Fisher said she usually works with cotton and linen.
"It's becoming a lost art," Maslowski said. "Tish has studied in Europe to perfect her craft. I would consider her a master and people need to recognize we have someone like this right here in Putnam County."
Maslowski said it's crucial for people to participate and understand that even in an urban area like Putnam County, rural farmers need to be supported.
"We're losing 10 acres per day of farm land in the state to development," she said.
The Putnam County Farmers Market is currently in the running to become one of America's favorite farmers markets, Maslowski said. She said Putnam is second in the state, about 200 votes behind Capitol Market. The American Farm Land Trust, a national conservation organization, is sponsoring the competition.
Also in attendance during the celebration, which marks the peak of the growing season, will be other local artists and Steven Pritt, who sells his secret family recipe of bologna sauce, Pritt Brothers, in Kroger and other stores. Pritt will be passing out free samples of bologna and chicken sandwiches smothered in the sauce, Maslowski said.
Even though farmers got a late start planting because of heavy spring rains, Maslowski said, peaches, sweet corn, fresh meat and eggs, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, squash and just about everything is now ready for purchase at the market beside the water reservoir in Hurricane.
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.