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All my gourds are insecticide free. They are not cleaned- some have beautiful markings. They're naturally lovely when waxed or sprayed. Just gently rinse, blot and air dry, then gently use paste wax, dry and buff, or you can spray with a finish for more of a shine. (Don't spray if you have waxed!) The finish will bring out the beauty of the patterns. Try dying right over the markings and then applying your wax or spray.
They are gorgeous displayed in a basket, or go elegant and place them in a fabulous glass or pottery vessel as a focal piece. They are also great for painting, pyrography, decoupage, making ornaments or natural jewelry (pendants) or other mixed media art. Some of my customers leave them as is, for lovely primitive rustic display.
Thorough cleaning for painting will remove some of the markings. To clean gourd shell: Put gourds in a bowl of water for a minute- hot or at least warm water loosens the outer skin more quickly than room temp. Adding a cap-full of bleach is optional. Use a metal scrubby and very gently rub in a circular motion until they are clean. Rubbing too hard may create scratches or break the egg. Rinse, let dry and you're all set. Tip: if you intend to paint these, gently buff the surface with 400-600 grit sandpaper for a super glass-like finish.
Have fun creating!