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How do you soften the skin of the gourd so it can be easily sanded?  Is sand paper used or is there so other tool that can be used?  Thank You

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Gary, typically you do not sand a gourd.  You soak in warm water for a few minutes then use a scrubber to clean the mold off of it.  That will give you a nice surface for your art.  

Gary, I fill a tub with water and use old towels to cover the gourds so they stay moist. I then take a scrubber that is used in commercial kitchens. it is thicker grade than the typical scrubber found in stores. I also use a knife to scrape the areas where the "skin" is impervious to the water. By this I mean sometimes the skin where it has no contact with the ground is like kevlar. The skin that is touching the ground as it grows is usually easiest to clean. The kevlar skin needs to be broken through to allow the water to soften the remainder of the skin so it can be scraped clean. I also try not to allow gourds to stay soaking in water too long as they tend to audibly pop and crack. I think this is because i live in the desert southwest. The cracking may be due to the temperature. When you get accustomed to cleaning gourds, you will know when all the skin has been removed. As I paint my gourds like pottery, I use a electric palm sander to remove any bumps. Have fun Gary!!!

I have a bag of wet potting soil and bury the gourd in it and the next day take it out and wash it and use a metal scrubber or putty knife.

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