The Society of Decorative Painters | Chapter Happenings | Volume 1 Issue 5 | October 2005


immediate release


In this issue

• Glorious Guitar

Submitted by Teresa D. White

Teresa D. White from the Pacific Pal-ettes would like to share this hand painted and handmade guitar. Her son-in-law, Jason Stensby, made the guitar for his eight-year-old daughter. Jason asked Grandma to paint something on the guitar. The electric guitar is built of wood and painted with acrylics from Teresa’s own original design. Have you painted a musical instrument? Please e-mail Teresa at

• Sheewe Art Workshop

Don’t miss the 26 episodes of Sheewe Art Workshop, starring Susan Sheewe Brown, which are being underwritten by SDP. Check your local PBS public television station listings to see when it airs. If the show is not listed in your area, please call your station right away and request it. Be sure to ask your sister chapter members to do the same, and pass this information on to your newsletter editor so she can include it in her next issue. Let’s spread the word about decorative painting!

• Staging a Retreat

By Lee Ann O’Brien, Show-Me-Strokes Decorative Painters
The Show-Me-Strokes Decorative Painters and Ozark Palettes held a joint retreat, "From Flappers to Fantasy,” July 15-17 at Roaring River State Park, Cassville, Mo. The original retreat idea came from the Ozark Palettes in Branson, MO, in 2000. The Show-Me-Strokes first joined the Ozark Palettes in a joint retreat in 2004. 2005 marked our second joint retreat. Twenty-five members attended. The retreats give us a chance to have fun, relax, paint a little, eat a little and get to know one another.

Teachers in our chapters taught 3 three-hour classes (two on Saturday, one on Sunday) and five make-it-take-its scattered through the weekend.

For the first time this year there was a "pin money" drawing, with a lucky member winning pin money to spend at the retreat. There also was a make-it-take-it contest with a 30-minute limit for painting on a small 3”-by-2” frame that was very fun and interesting.

We learned to put an opaque color (yellow) under a transparent color (red) to eliminate the need for numerous layers. We made a heavy paper box then painted it with an enchanted fairy design. We painted a snowman on a screen and hot chilies on glass. We painted our own flapper "slipper" nametags and a pin and earring set. One of the main classes was a welcome sign designed just for painters.

In addition to a large hand sewn goodie bag handed out on Friday night, we conducted door prize drawings throughout the weekend. On Sunday, all the names went back into the drawing pot for two grand prizes. All the goodie bag items and prizes were donated by well-known artists, businesses and chapter members. We had 60 respond to our request this year.

On Saturday night we enjoyed a gift exchange of hand painted items from members.

During this year's retreat we were happy to find that the Waynesville, Mo. , chapter wants to join our joint effort for next year. If we keep going, we'll have our own mini-convention here in Missouri . Wouldn't that be super?

• It’s Time to Renew

Don’t forget to renew your membership before Dec. 1 to save $5. And why not save a little more by renewing for 2006 and 2007 at the same time? A dues increase is being proposed for 2007. If you renew for 2006-07 before Dec. 1, 2005, you’ll save by paying the current dues price for both years, a total of just $70. Click HERE to download the new membership form so you can renew, and feel free to use this form in your chapter newsletter.

• We Need Your Imput!

Chapter members are our recruiting experts in the field and SDP staff would love to have your input. Does your chapter have any special techniques you use to encourage members to renew? If so, we’d love to hear about them. We’ll publish a number of renewal suggestions in the next issue of Chapter Happenings. Please send your ideas to Mary Cobble at

• Treasured Mural

By Mary Gensinger, Treasure Coast Decorative Painters

Members of the Treasure Coast Decorative Painters, including, from left, Nancy Albright, Diane Pearsall, Linda Sorel, Loretta Vitello, and Jan Doyle, created a mural for New Horizon’s Children’s Center. On the right is a New Horizons staff member.

The Treasure Coast Decorative Painters painted a sea-themed mural on two walls at the New Horizons Children’s Center in Fort Pierce, Fla. Many hands contributed to this effort. The response from the New Horizons staff and visitors has been so positive. We truly enjoyed contributing to the project!

• Change is a Blessing

Deb Kreiger CDA, Penn’s Woods Painters
My thoughts for all of you are change. With September comes the change of seasons. Change is all around us. We notice the air seems a little more brisk and cool. Days are becoming shorter. Leaves are becoming brighter. Nature has no fear and is willing to change. Just like nature it is very good for us to adapt to some change in our daily lives.

The Penn's Woods Painters board and committee members strive to make good changes and give every member the opportunity to explore decorative painting and expand their talents.

Change is good and can be great fun … especially with good friends!


• Quote of the Issue

Submitted by William “Buzz” Smith
I ran across an interesting quote in my local newspaper. I feel it applies to our endeavors in regard to everything we tackle from our organizations to our painting abilities and talents to our chapter involvement. The quote – which is by Steve Prefontaine -- is this:

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

• Gourds – Preparing Them in a Nutshell

By Karen Martin, Ohio Valley Deorative Artists

Gourds make a wonderful painting surface. Want to learn how to prepare them for painting? Here is the process for curing, cleaning and sculpting gourds.

A gourd is the fruit of a tendril-bearing vine with both male and female blossoms, which has an outer shell that covers seeds imbedded in a pulp. There are two groups of gourds -- the hardshells and the ornamentals -- and within each are many different kinds of gourds, usually named by their appearance.

When gourds are cured they are light in weight and have a hard shell if they were mature when they were harvested. The only requirement for the curing process is air circulation. Gourds that have been picked and left in a well-ventilated location will be covered with mold and may look rotten; but if they were mature when picked, they will dry. All the color of gourds is in their skin, so gourds do lose all their color when dried and cleaned. Dried gourds will usually be light tan to dark brown in color. Many will bear mottling marks produced by the previous mold growth.

Once a gourd is cured, (seeds rattle, light in weight, hard outer shell, thoroughly dry), there are several ways to clean the mold and skin from the gourd. While the job is messy, it is not difficult. Be sure to clean the stems also, since they will have exterior skin that molds.

Soak the gourd in a tub of water into which you have mixed a small amount of detergent. Because gourds float, you may need to weight them down, ensuring water coverage over the entire gourd. You can also stay with your gourd and continually move the gourd through the soapy water, turning it so the water can soften all the skin and mold. Fifteen minutes to an hour is all it takes to soften the skin. Remember that the gourd is porous and can absorb water. If the gourd is left too long, the gourd will be fine but must have time to dry once more before you can begin crafting. Once the skin and mold are softened, scrub it off with a pot scrubber, plastic or metal kitchen scrubbing pad, SOS pad, stiff natural brush or small brass brush. Stubborn spots may need to be scraped off with a dull knife. Do not use razor blades or any other sharp knife. If there are any bug holes or other imperfections in the shell of the gourd, you could cut into these and mar the shell badly.

Another method is to wrap the gourd in a wet towel and set it aside for several hours to soften the skin and mold.

Yet another method is to place the gourd in a large plastic garbage bag with some water. Leave the bag in the sun for several hours, carefully rolling the bag from time to time. This process effectively steam-soaks the mold, which then can be scraped off quite easily.

Once the skin and mold have been removed, you must fill any bug holes with a wood putty or filler and slightly sand any surface imperfections. Use fine sandpaper since the gourd shell may become scratched.

It may take several washings, so please do not leave this to the last minute before crafting. The gourd should be dry before time to paint. You do not have to seal the surface but if you want to, that's okay. Sometimes I just spray the gourd with Deco Americana Sealer/Finisher to give a tooth for paint adherence and to make sure no tannins from the gourd come through into the paint.

There are hundreds of ways to craft and decorate gourds. Gourds originally were used as containers, bowl, dishes, and ritual objects. Now they have found their way into the art world while maintaining their utilitarian uses as well as becoming musical instruments. The pictures that accompany this article show some simple gourd sculptures. Many artisans are creating amazing figures of animals and people, among other things, by putting differently shaped gourds and gourd pieces together. Others use various types of clay or paper maché to create their figures.

In these pictures, you can see a simple whale and cat gourd creation. Each was made using one type of gourd as its main body. The whale was created using a penguin gourd for its body and then adding the fin and tail pieces cut from another gourd. The cat was created using a bottle gourd for its body, the handle of a long-handle dipper gourd for its tail, the bottoms of two miniature bottle gourds for its cheeks, and the top of a martin house gourd, cut in half, for its ears.

Simple tools were used to assemble each of these figures. An electric drill with a hole saw was used to cut a hole into the “cat gourd” for placement of its tail. An Exacto knife and saw were used to make the slots in the “whale gourd” for fin and tail placement. All inserted pieces and applied pieces, like the cat's cheeks and ears, were affixed using a hot glue gun. When the glue was cool, wood filler or putty was applied around the joints or adjoining pieces. I always used Elmer's Wood Filler but have recently discovered Famo Wood Filler. Both work well, but I found the Famo Wood Filler to be creamier and closer to the color of the gourd. This was done in three stages, keeping each layer thin. Wood filler was applied in thin layers to promote a shorter drying time and to prevent cracking. Between each application of wood filler, the area was sanded with fine grit sandpaper, which helps to create the smooth curves and shapes one wants in those areas. Once all the pieces are affixed and the figure is completed, it is ready to be painted. Any type of paint or leather dye can be used.

• Painters Helping Veterans

By Mary Dunlap, Apple Valley Decorative Painters (Maryland)
When I attended a Maureen McNaughton seminar in March sponsored by the Nation’s Capital chapter, an announcement was made that a clause in her contract required all unused paints be donated to non-profits. I was working on a pilot project with the Martinsburg, W.V., Veterans Affairs Hospital and the Nation’s Capital chapter was the first to very generously donate all unused paints from the Maureen McNaughton seminar to the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Hospital, the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Hospital and the Washington, D. C. Veterans Affairs Hospital. All three Veterans Affairs Hospitals were so pleased to receive the paints, which are used by the veterans in therapy programs, i.e., to learn to use a left arm when the right arm has been incapacitated due to a stroke or war-related limb damage.

The Apple Valley Decorative Painters chapter is the first to donate used brushes, colored pencils, items to be painted, partially painted items and painting books to the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Martinsburg. AVP also has donated individual supplies of paints to the Martinsburg VA. An SDP member of AVP donated many items, including some of her teacher seminar demonstration pieces, to the Martinsburg VA. The therapy unit is deeply appreciative for each of these painting donations.

Mike Tate, an AVP member, who works at the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Hospital , mentioned to me that the brushes our veterans are using in the therapy unit are worse than the brushes we throw away. The "service seed" was planted and is now growing beautifully, but we need to expand our service to all Veterans Affairs Hospitals' therapy units.

I would like to see each SDP chapter begin a paint and paint supplies program individually with its local Veterans Affairs Hospital therapy unit.

The VA hospitals provide the medical expertise, but funds are not available for painting supplies for the therapy units.

In addition, the individual chapters may want to paint ornaments for a Christmas tree in their local Veterans Administration Hospital , as a means for the therapy units to obtain funds for painting supplies.

Our veterans have served our beautiful country, allowing us to be free and to be able to paint anytime and anywhere we choose. Over the years our veterans have served to protect us. Now we need to provide painting assistance service to our veterans.

If any SDP member or chapter needs assistance with locating the local Veterans Administration Hospital or a contact at the VA Hospital, please let me know and I will be most happy to provide that information.

This is a very important service program that I hope and pray will be adopted by all SDP chapters. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me by e-mail at .

• A Mural for B.A.B.E.S.

By Jill Weyenberg, Apple Valley Chapter of Decorative Painters (Wisconsin)

The Apple Valley Chapter of Decorative Painters, Neenah, Wisc., assisted in painting a mural for a program in their area called B.A.B.E.S. This is a child abuse prevention program for young parents up to the age of 27. They offer Spanish- and English-speaking parenting programs. They are geared to first-time moms and want to help these parents before abuse starts. They provide respite for women by providing temporary daycare for the children when mom has a job interview or just needs time to herself.

Karyn Tellock works as a nurse at Presto Products and the mural was Presto's community service project. They welcomed any other help they could get.

Karyn volunteered to present this to our chapter as a community project, because they needed some experienced painters. Presto provided drinks, subs and pizza for the workers. It was an extremely hot day. We had a couple of weeks of 95 degree-plus weather and high humidity, so it was an effort for those who worked to get out and paint. They did a fantastic job and B.A.B.E.S. is thrilled with the wall.

• A Fun Idea

By William “Buzz” Smith
While corresponding with a fellow painter she told me of an activity that some her painting pals partake in. They hold "Painting Video Parties.” They get together to talk, eat, and watch painting videos that various members of the group own. Your chapter may have a video library along with your book library. Maybe small groups – or whole chapters -- could use them and put on video parties. You could even put on video parties that also include the group selecting a video and painting during the party. What a great way to exchange ideas, discuss methods and techniques, help each other and critique one another's work.

• Chapter Snapshots

Members of the Orange Blossom Decorative Artists in Central Valley, N.Y. painted Christmas ornaments for the 45 residents of the Center for Discovery as a service project at their September meeting.
Photo and information provided by Sheila McGoldrick..

Each year the Rose Tolers chapter promotes decorative painting by setting up an exhibit at the East Texas Fair, in Tyler, Texas. This year they had had 111 entries. Those who worked the fair, standing from left to right, are Gloriann Spiller, Patsy Bass, Bettie Williams, Sherry Brandt and Jan Cox. Seated, left to right, are Ann Monroe, Judge and Gwen Honeycutt. Not pictured are Dixie McCormick and Virginia McKee.

Lake Country Decorative Painters had their annual retreat, "Colors of Fall,” at Onanda Park on Canandaigua Lake September 9-11. About 20 members attended and painted sunflowers on a stool and a bird and grapes on a gourd, and did glass painting and a pen and ink Halloween scene.


• Correction

In the August issue of Chapter happenings, we incorrectly stated the state location of the Kanawa Valley Decorative Artists. KVDA is actually located in Charleston, W.V. Our apologies for the incorrect information.

•About Chapter Happenings

Chapter Happenings is published bimonthly by the Society of Decorative Painters (SDP) for members of its affiliated chapters. Do you have a story, photo or idea for Chapter Happenings? E-mail Mary Cobble at If you would like to be removed from the email list please contact