Meet Our Teachers

Sherry (2) picSHERRY BRISCOE
Giraffes Laff Art & Crafts, Reidsville, North Carolina

Ever since we found our first misshapen, dirt & mildew covered gourd at a local farmers’ market, our imaginations have run wild!  So many possibilities, so little time.  Then we found the NC Gourd Society’s Annual Festival!  Wow, there’s just no end to the things you can do with gourds – bowls, baskets, masks, carving, burning, etching, dyeing, painting, weaving, coiling, inlay, Kumihimo braiding, jewelry…who knew?!  We have been teaching classes and doing demos at each gourd festival we attend, and we have even won awards for our work.  “Gourdness Gracious!” we are totally hooked on gourds and gourders!

In 2008, we decided we would branch out a bit and added the FL and Cherokee festivals to our schedule.  Then in 2009 we added PA…we had so much fun that we decided to extend our 2011 travels to an additional 6 states:  AL, KY, OH, SC, TN, and VA.  We started 2011 intending to visit all these fests and weed out the ones that weren’t productive; but we haven’t been able to trim our list at all, as a matter of fact we added MS in 2012 and IN in 2013.  Gourders are so much fun and the hospitality has been beyond anything we could have imagined!  Guess our schedule will continue to be very full, as we plan to add several more stops to our itinerary in the coming years.

We are currently members of the American Gourd Society, as well as the AL, FL, IN, KY, MS, NC, OH, PA, SC and TN Gourd Societies. –Sherry Briscoe




Martha bio picMARTHA ERTLE
Bentonia, Mississippi

 A wife of 45 years, mother of two, and grandmother of four wonderful grandchildren—my first love is my family, then hunting and fishing.  I love the outdoors.  Since I meet Helen Looman at Vicksburg and became a gourdhead, I guess I divide my time to them all.  I have been known to take a pine coiling project with me hunting in my tent.  I bow hunt mostly all deer season so it makes it easy to take projects with me.  I try not to have idle hands.  I really enjoy learning new techniques and applying them to a gourd.  I have become obsessed with pine coiling baskets and adding pine coiling to gourds.  I’m just plain country and love it. –Martha Ertle


Hattiesburg, Mississippi

 I have been painting for over 30 years and have been teaching painting for several years.   I am a member of the American, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana Gourd Societies, South Mississippi Fine Art Association, and the Society of Decorative Painters.  My paintings have won numerous awards and masters. –Georgie E. Foster, MGA


Angie Kilby bio picANGIE KILBY
Georgetown, Kentucky

Angie Kilby lives in Georgetown, KY, with Doug, her husband of 13 years, and their 3 fur kids. She has 2 sons, 4 stepchildren and 9 grandchildren.   She is co-owner of Art on Main, LLC, an artists’ co-op in Georgetown.

Always being a crafty person, Angie enjoys creating beautiful things.  She has been crafting gourds since 2008, using various medium. Thunder drums & table lamps seem to be her best sellers.

Teaching is her passion. She has had some excellent mentors in the gourd world, Bonnie Gibson, Jennifer Zingg, Travis Kelley, Ron Swank and including most of the current teachers at Cherokee.  Every year since 2008, she has attended the Gourd Artists Gathering in Cherokee, NC, and has taught for the past 3 years. She has won many awards with her gourds at the Kentucky Gourd Show in Taylorsville, KY.

Angie has been a member of the Kentucky Gourd Society and the American Gourd Society since 2008.


Hattiesburg, Mississippi

I’ve always been very creative, even as a child, like drawing on my Mom’s freshly painted living room walls.  Moved from the wall drawing to painting murals in restaurants and private homes. I also enjoy making stained glass windows, which I learned 30 years ago from my mother’s best friend, Glyn.

I started carving gourds last year when I ran across the Mississippi Gourd Society’s webpage and though, “HUM, I can do that!”  I have been in love with carving, painting, growing, and enjoying gourds ever since. –Renee King


Yazoo City, Mississippi

I retired from 40 years in banking in 2000, started woodburning gourds in 2001, and was accepted into the Mississippi Craftsmen’s Guild in 2005 with my woodburning.

Even though I craft gourds using many different techniques, I loved woodburning geometrics the most—until I was introduced to faux leather tooling.  That’s my new favorite woodburning technique and it’s about all I’ve done the last three years.   I can while away many hours woodburning and wouldn’t stop then if my right hand didn’t need rest. I love gourds and love sharing my woodburning knowledge with everyone. –Helen Looman


Bossier City, Louisiana

I began my painting career some 35 years ago, starting with ceramics.  I became certified with Duncan, Gare, Mayco, and Hanovia—all paint companies.  As all of us addicted to art, I moved on to fabric painting, tole and decorative painting, painting on rocks, spindles, cypress knees, etc., jewelry and gourds.  I am certified by Grumbacher to teach fine art and by Bead Landing to teach jewelry.

Gourding has led me to festivals in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Cherokee, North Carolina, where I learned the wonders of weaving, wood burning, carving, beading, sculpting, closed coiling and, I am sure, more to come.

I have taught gourd classes for many years locally and taught at the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Mississippi Gourd Festival and the 2012 Acadiana Gourd Festival.  I entered my first gourd competition at Acadiana and was honored to receive three First Place and the Best of Show awards.  I am looking forward to teaching classes at the 2014 Mississippi Gourd Festival in September.  –Carol Maddox


Ron Swank and Idaho signRON SWANK
Rising Sunflower Flutes, Nampa, Idaho

My name is Ron Swank, Creator of the Legendary Thunder Gourd.  I discovered the world of gourds the winter of 2009.  That summer I joined the Idaho Gourd Society and have been involved ever since, attending various festivals as a vendor and teacher.  I am an educator among other things, but primarily a creative person by nature, always looking for new ideas, attempting to push the boundaries, thinking outside the gourd. —Ron Swank


Sunshine Woodcarving Supplies, Sebring, Florida
Ebay store: Everglades Woodcarving Supplies

I am a retired science teacher of 32 years, residing in Sebring, Florida, with my wife Debbie, also a teacher.  I have owned Sunshine Woodcarving Supplies for more than 20 years, selling carving and gourd supplies.  I created the Everglades wood burner and pens and have been building them for 15 plus years.

I have been a wood carver since 1988 and I carve realistic animals, caricatures, and Santas.  I am primarily a power woodcarver. I have taught many woodcarving classes at my home in and around Florida, as well as, the Southeastern Woodcarving School in Montgomery, AL.  I judge woodcarving shows in my area, including the Florida State Fair.

After attending my first Florida Gourd Show some 10 years ago, I realized how many tools and techniques were the same. I was able to share my knowledge of the tools and their uses and how it works with the gourds. I had a new found art form and gained some AWESOME gourd artist friends.

Due to my wood carving business and carving background, my knowledge of power tools and their use is second to none.  I share that knowledge with fellow wood and gourd carvers at all the carving and gourd shows.  I attend about 10 to 12 shows yearly in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.  –Cecil Walley