Nancy Haddock is the award-winning and national bestselling author of the Silver Six Crafting Mysteries. She draws on historic wealth, southern culture, and the plain old quirkiness of places and people for her books. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
Learning New Skills
Last time Anastasia and Lois so kindly hosted me, I talked about my family’s tradition of crafting. From knitting to crocheting to sewing, from tole painting to batik to refinishing and upholstering trunks, my mother, aunts, and grandmothers expressed their artistic natures. I said then, and I still believe, that if there’s a gene for crafting, I got it.
We have an army of local talent in St. Augustine, Florida, and I love to see what artists are offering at our local farmer’s market events. At one, I met a gentleman whose business name is Chairman of the Gourd. Don’t you love that? He primarily crafts gourd birdhouses and carves walking sticks, and he was wonderful to spend time visiting with me about his work. I subsequently attended one of St. Augustine’s juried art fairs and got a whole new education about gourd art! That was the final punch of inspiration for the featured craft in Paint the Town Dead.
|Gourd Cat Bed|
As I delved into researching the subject, I met several artists who call gourds “Nature’s Sculptures.” When I saw the array of what craftspeople do with gourds, I understood why they’re so versatile. Painted, etched, burned. Used as vases, pencil holders, wall decorations. I saw one huge gourd that the artist had turned into a cat bed!
The more I saw, the more I wanted to try my hand at gourd art. Now gourds are available to buy online, but I needed to start small. The Chairman of the Gourd had “mini” gourds for sale, so I bought six of them. I lost track of them for a while, but the gourds are now safely in a bin. Unless the fairies move them, I’ll be ready to pull those puppies out in the fall, clean them, and let them tell me what they want to be. I’m most likely to simply paint them, but I have a rotary tool that does all kinds of things. I want to learn to use it, though I will experiment on a flat surface first. My gourds are small enough to be Christmas tree ornaments, but I just may paint them tropical colors and mount them on a large wreath.
This is one of the bonuses of writing the Silver Six Crafting Mysteries—the researching and sometimes the experimenting. In Paint the Town Dead, Nixy and the Silver Six are opening the Handcraft Emporium, so I got to research all kinds of painting projects and vicariously craft to my heart’s content.
Still, I’m itching to get my hot little hands on those gourds. I’ll let you know how they turn out!
Paint the Town Dead
Leslee Stanton Nix—aka “Nixy”—thought moving to small-town Lilyvale, Arkansas, would be about as thrilling as watching paint dry. But keeping up with her retired Aunt Sherry and her housemates—collectively known as the Silver Six—has proven to be as exciting as it is exasperating.
To kick off the grand opening of their craft shop, the Handcraft Emporium, Nixy and the Silver Six invite Doralee Gordon to teach a gourd painting class. Nixy isn’t happy when Doralee’s ex crashes the class with his new fiancée, but things really get messy when the bride-to-be later turns up dead.
Now it’s up to Nixy and the Silver Six to use their melons to find the killer—before someone else gets painted out of the picture...