Pastel gourd arrangements

Add a fresh twist to the traditional harvest centerpiece with subtle coloring

Ann Bertelsen

Had your fill of bright orange pumpkins? Then think pastel. The warm tones of painted dried gourds will get you off to a good start. Our centerpiece can be made in less than an hour and requires no artistic skills.

To make an arrangement like this one, you'll need several gourds of varying shapes and sizes; the more exotic the shape, the more interesting your centerpiece will be. Don't be turned off by discoloration or imperfections ― these give depth and texture to the gourd when it's lightly painted. Combine acrylic paint colors to create the hue you want.

Our gourds nestle in a shallow ceramic bowl, but you can place them in almost any large container, including wooden fruit or salad bowls and baskets.

MATERIALS

* About 5 variously shaped gourds; the total amount depends on the size of your container. Look for gourds at your local pumpkin patch, floral or craft store, or on the Internet.

* Pastel-colored acrylic paints, available from art and craft stores

* Medium-size foam brush

* Cheesecloth

* Polyurethane spray (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Clean gourds with a damp cloth or paper towel, then dry thoroughly.

2. Apply a small amount of paint to one gourd at a time, working from top to bottom. Immediately buff the gourd with the cheesecloth until paint is smooth and polished.

3. Repeat process until each gourd is evenly covered. The gourds' brownish markings will show through the paint, giving richness and texture.

4. For a shiny finish, spray with polyurethane sealant when the paint is completely dry.

5. Arrange gourds in container, using greenery as an accent.