Crafts With Gourds: How To Make Water Canteens From Dried Gourds

Water Canteen Made From Dried Gourds
gourd canteen2
(Image credit: DJClaassen)

Gourds are a fun plant to grow in your garden. Not only are the vines lovely, but you can make crafts with gourds as well. One very utilitarian craft you can make with gourds is water canteens.

How to Make a Gourd Canteen

So, you're ready to make crafts with gourds, now what? Get started with growing and making your own water canteen. Here is how you can do that:

  1. Choose a gourd for your water canteens craft- When making any crafts with gourds, you need to decide what kind of gourds you should grow that would work best with your project. For water canteens, use gourds with a somewhat evenly thick shell. For this project we recommend the Mexican Water Bottle gourd, a Canteen gourd, or Chinese Bottle gourd.
  2. When to harvest gourds- Let your gourds grow all summer then harvest the gourds directly after the first frost. The plant will be dead, but the gourds will still be green. Be sure to leave a few inches (8 cm.) of stem on each of the gourds.
  3. How to dry a gourd- The best way on how to dry a gourd is to place it somewhere dry and cool. Swab the outside of the gourds with a 10 percent bleach solution to help prevent rot, then hang the gourd up somewhere cool, dry, and well ventilated. You can either attach a string to the stem or you can place the gourd inside a piece of panty hose and hang the gourd in the hose. Check the gourd once a month till dry. When the gourd feels light and sounds hollow when tapped, it will be dry. This will take from six months to two years.
  4. How to clean a dried gourd- Soak the gourds in a 10 percent bleach solution water for about 15 minutes, then remove the gourds and use a scrubby pad to remove the soft outer layer of the gourds. When clean, allow it to dry again.
  5. How put a hole in the gourd- Choose a tapered cork for the top of your gourd water canteens. Trace around the smallest part of the cork at the top of the gourd. Use a small bit on a drill or Dremel to pierce holes around the traced hole. Do not use large bits or you will break the gourd. Continue to drill small holes until you can break the cork opening out. Surround the cork with sandpaper and use the cork to sand the opening smooth.
  6. How to clean the inside of the gourd water canteens- The inside of the gourd will be full of seeds and soft fibrous material. Use a long, curved wand of some kind to break up this material and pull it out of the gourd. A metal coat hanger works well. This task may take some time. Once the gourd is relatively cleaned out, put a handful of sharp stones into the gourd and shake it around to loosen additional material.
  7. How to seal the gourd water canteens- Melt beeswax and pour it into the water canteens. Swirl the beeswax around until the entire inside of the gourd is coated.

Now you have a finished set of gourd water canteens. This is just one of the many fun crafts with gourds that you can do. Birdhouses are another.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.