A quintessential piece of Ithaca decor, you can find Graham’s gourd lamps at local gift shops and galleries. But Graham’s passion is not just in her art– she loves sharing the joy and bounty of gourds and their possibilities through her shop and studio, Gourdlandia.
WHAT TO EXPECT
We joined Graham to photograph a pendant lamp workshop in March, but Gourdlandia offers more than just craft workshops– it’s a garden, a gift shop, and an educational experience. Drop in for a tour, explore the trellises, discover and purchase art from a wide variety of local artists and artisans, and even make something yourself! Drop-ins can choose to make a simple gourd craft… gourd necklaces are a popular choice for all ages, and gourd nightlights are a more technical (but still quick and massively rewarding) activity. If you’re ready for a more time-intensive project, sign up for a more in-depth class to make a lamp, pendant, or a bowl.
“My favorite part of the class was creating something I previously wouldn't have believed I could with my friends, using power tools (!) and of course, Graham was a warm, profoundly patient and excellent teacher.”
- Kate from Boston, participant in the gourd pendant lamp workshop
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL
The focus on gourds isn’t just a preference of medium for Graham– her passion about gourds runs deep, and that passion infects visitors as she tours them through the garden or teaches a gourd art class. As she transitioned from her career as a midwife, she experimented with a variety of artistic mediums (including gingerbread!) and landed on gourds as she learned more about them.
“Gourds are so accessible and forgiving of mistakes. It’s really a fun medium,” she explains. “I think a lot of people have this image of gourds as being kitschy, but when you look at the history of it, people have been using gourds forever. They say gourds and dogs were the first domesticated species. People relied on them for survival. So I feel that making functional art out of gourds is really continuing a tradition.”
BEST TIMES TO VISIT
Gourdlandia is open year-round, but August, September, and October are the best times to visit, says Graham. “When you walk through the trellis and it’s dripping in gourds and you’re surrounded by this bounty, it’s beautiful.”
Gourdlandia is located at EcoVillage Ithaca, an environmentally-focused co-housing community recognized internationally for its 25+ year history building energy-efficient housing, supporting social community, working towards sustainable food production and consumption, and fostering cooperation to lower consumerism. Short tours and overnight stays are a great way to experience EcoVillage, but unlike your visit to Gourdlandia, you have to plan ahead. Coordinate your visit to Gourdlandia with a scheduled tour or a stay at EcoVillage and you’ll be well on your way to experiencing the town like a true Ithaca local.
Photos by Allison Usavage, allisonusavage.com. Garden and harvest season photos provided by Graham Ottoson.