By NEIL ZAWICKI

Cathy Bohannon turned her first gourd into an art piece back in 2000.

Today, she produces around 75 decorative gourds each year and sells them throughout Vermont. 

The Alburgh resident keeps a gallery at her home and maintains a garden where she grows her own gourds.

Piles of them sit in her studio, and each one has to sit for at least four months before she can begin to work with it. 

In fact, getting to the phase where she’s crafting a gourd to a finished art piece involves avoiding breathing in toxic fibers while carving out the interior of each one.

But the prep, for Bohannon, is just a means to an end, and clearly she’s hooked.

“It was the most amazing thing,” said Bohannon of her first gourd art class, when Grand Isle resident Betsy Sloan taught her the ways of the gourd.

And Bohannon knows her gourds.

“There are so many types,” she said. “There are Bushel gourds, snake gourds. bottle gourds and canteen gourds.”

From there, she started making them for her family and friends, and her methods and designs kept evolving until, one day, she found herself selling them in galleries.

After that, Bohannon said her husband helped her set up her studio.

“I have the best husband,” she said of his help and support.

These days, she’s in Vermont Handcrafters, the Milton Artists Guild and Artist in Residence in St. Albans. Through those venues, she sells her work on a consistent level. But she says she doesn’t want to do more than that.

“It wouldn’t be enjoyable if I did anymore,” she said.

Bohannnon also loves the outdoors, and she likes finding natural things to use in her art. Growing them, as well, adds to her inspiration and creativity.

“It’s nice harvesting in the fall, because you’ll be like, ‘oh look at this one!’” she said. “It’s like a box of chocolates. You just never know what you’ll get.”