FEATURED MEMBER OF THE MONTH

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MARTHA VAN RIPPER

was born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Crawfordsville to be exact.  I mention the town only because it does have a New Mexico connection.  General Lew Wallace, the first Territorial Governor of New Mexico, was from that town.  He was a hero to us, and New Mexico presented a vision of life so different from our life in Indiana.  I graduated from Miami University school of education and taught elementary grades for two years.  After marrying my husband Richard, we lived in Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and New York where we raised our two children Steven and Robin.  In the mid 1980’s Richard’s job took us and our teenage children to Tokyo, Japan.  In spite of the initial culture shock, this was an opportunity to learn new traditions and expand our horizons.  I did study the language with a private teacher, but mostly she spoke with me in English.  We discussed Japanese history, the origin of the festivals at the numerous temples, how to prepare Japanese food, etc.  Once a week I studied Ikebana, Japanese flower arranging, and received my teaching certificate shortly before our return to the US four years after our arrival.  

It was after we moved to New Mexico in 1998 that I became familiar with hard shell gourds.  Every home we have had featured annually a small vegetable garden.  Our property in Corrales quickly gave birth to quite a large garden.  Richard is a fabulous vegetable grower, and we soon started taking our excess produce to the Growers Market.  My growing contribution to our enterprise became gourds.  I learned they are terrific vehicles for crafting, and I became captivated—totally hooked.  Although we no longer participate in the Growers Market, I have continued growing gourds.  It is thrilling to see what one tiny seed can produce during our growing season.  My first gourds were treated with a min wax finish and colored with pencils.  Painting on gourds is not fun for me.  Now my favorite techniques are wood burning and coloring with ink dyes.  When I finish a gourd, I like to see that it is after all — a gourd.  I have enjoyed my association with NMGS since its founding 2003.  I’ve been introduced to new techniques, ideas, and possibilities; plus I have made wonderful friends.  Thank you for being one of them and HAPPY GOURDING!!!
 

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