White Mulberry Earthpod: Foraged artwork from The White Mulberry Project

Raw Gourd for the White Mulberry Earthpod

This White Mulberry Earthpod is one of two artworks-in-progress created for The White Mulberry Project: A Silk Road Runs Through It to be presented on August 26, 2023 in my studio’s Eco-Garden in upstate New York.

I decided to use a gourd as the foundation for this piece as the form represents the roots of my artistic practice. My first Earthpod was created over 20 years ago, inspired by the mushroom puffballs I discovered as a child in the fields of my grandparents’ farm in Vermont. I’m taking these “artistic roots” and bringing them to The White Mulberry Project. The work will incorporate foraged materials from the white mulberry trees that made a surprising appearance in my back yard in 2022.

This journal will be updated as the work progresses:

June 3, 2023
I was originally going to use the gourd I grew myself for my artwork for the White Mulberry Project, but the size just wasn’t right. I contacted my usual gourd suppliers and Waylon Wuertz of the Wuertz Gourd Farm in Arizona came through for me. He found the exact size and shape I was looking for from his newly-harvested gourd crop. Yay!

I was thrilled to receive this beauty and right to work on my Earthpod shape which I will use on each piece created for the Eco-Garden Project.

Raw gourd, dried.
Raw gourd for the White Mulberry Earthpod. Photography © Serena Kovalosky

The “earthpod” has been a recurring form throughout my artistic practice. It is inspired by pods in nature, filled with potential that explode in maturity to disseminate their seeds, passing the torch to the next generation, paralleling the trajectory of artwork that plants the “seeds” of new ideas and inspiration through a connection with nature.

Carved gourd bowl by Serena Kovalosky.
Carved gourd “earthpod” by Serena Kovalosky. Photography © Serena Kovalosky

The foraged elements will include leaf skeletons from mulberry leaves and wild ink from the mulberries for the exterior surface of the gourd.

I also have some of the branch tips I pruned last fall from my white mulberry trees, which I may weave around the opening of the gourd.

I will also be creating a wild ink from black walnuts for the interior of this White Mulberry Earthpod.

June 17, 2023
I’m absolutely thrilled with my first attempt at making ink for the White Mulberry Earthpod!

The black walnuts I had collected from a friend’s backyard in 2021 and kept in the freezer boiled down to a wonderful deep chocolate brown.

Making ink: Black Walnuts in pot of water.
Black Walnuts ready to be boiled down to make ink. Photography © Serena Kovalosky

A spicy woodland aroma filled the studio as the black walnuts simmered.

Black walnuts boiled down for ink.
Black Walnuts all boiled down after several days. Ink is ready! Photography © Serena Kovalosky
Black walnut ink bottled up and ready to use.
Black Walnut ink bottled up and ready to use! Photography © Serena Kovalosky

I added gum arabic to thicken the ink and painted the interior of the gourd with it. It’s absolutely perfect!

Gourd with the interior painted with black walnut ink.
Gourd with interior painted with black walnut ink. Photography © Serena Kovalosky

Now I’m waiting for mulberries to get ripe on a friend’s tree in nearby Glens Falls, NY and I’ll be making ink for the exterior of the Earthpod. (My little mulberry trees are still too young to make berries.)

June-July 2023

Adventures in foraging! My little mulberry trees are looking great and have been a good source of leaves for my artwork, but I had to put out a call to anyone with a mature white mulberry tree for berries and bark. And I got to taste my first mulberry! Here’s what collected, with the help of friends and neighbors: Foraging for Art Supplies 

More updates to come….

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See all articles on this project in my Mulberry Story-Box

CLICK for the background story of The White Mulberry Project

The White Mulberry Project: A Silk Road Runs Through It

In 2023, Serena Kovalosky was awarded a New York State Rural & Traditional Arts Fellowship for the White Mulberry Project, administered by the Arts Council for Wyoming County in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts. Funding for this project is made possible with support from the New York State Council on the Arts with support from the Governor’s office and the New York State Legislature.

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