Gourd Art Wood Spirit Mask, Free Project by Lora Irish

Gourd Art Wood Spirit Mask Free ProjectWood Spirit Gourd Mask

Learn how to turn the cut sections from your craft gourds into Urban Warrior Masks.  This Lora S. Irish free step-by-step instruction project will guide you through the painting, colored pencil, and permanent marker work needed to create a detailed wood spirit pattern on your next gourd project.

Wood spirits are a favorite wood carving theme and their amazing, emotional, wild faces are also perfect patterns for your gourd art.  Let’s look at a simple coloring technique that uses an undercoating of acrylic paints for colored pencil detail work to create your own Urban Warrior Mask.  Finished mask measures 31″ long by 24″ wide.


The outer surface of a gourd is slick – it acts as a polished, sealed surface on which your paints and colored pencils can slide.  To make the surface more acceptable to color application we will begin with a light fine-grit sanding.  This opens the wood-like surface of the gourd and allows your acrylic paints to soak into the gourd fibers.

A base painting for shading and highlighting is done first using acrylic craft paints that have been thinned slightly with water.  After the craft paints are well dried the entire face is detailed in a free-flowing manner to add more color, fine lines, and enhance the depth using colored pencils.  To add a few final bold, strong strokes of black a fine point permanent marking pen is used.

Painting supplies:

Cut gourd section,  7″ high x 5 1/2″ wide
1/8″ drill bit
fine grit fingernail files
acrylic craft paint
burnt umber, navy blue, ocher yellow, titanium white, carbon black
flat 1/4″ sable shader brush
#2 or #1 sable liner brush
artist quality colored pencils
black permanent fine point marker
re-workable spray matte sealer
graphite paper
transparent tape

Mask construction supplies:
hot glue and glue sticks
florist moss
twisted sea grass
assorted large hole jewelry beads
24- and 16- gauge copper wire
1/4″ wide x 1 yard leather cord
2mm black rattail cord
assorted vintage jewelry

Preparing the gourd

1.  This mask is created from the cut-out section from another gourd project.  It measures 7″ high by 5 1/2″ wide.  Clean the inside of the gourd section, be sure to use a dust mask whenever you clean, sand, or  trim any gourd.

2.  Using an 1/8″ drill bit and power drill create a hanging hole in the top of your gourd section.  One-half inch from the bottom edge drill 7 evenly spaced 1/8″ holes to use for corded jewelry.

3.  Using foam-core fine-grit fingernail files lightly sand the outer surface of the gourd section.  This very light sanding allows the acrylic paints, colored pencils, and permanent markers adhere to the surface.

Gourd Art Wood Spirit Mask Free Project 4.  Trace your wood spirit face pattern to the outer surface of the gourd.  You cam cut lemon wedge slices in the sides of the pattern paper to allow the paper to fit the curve of the gourd.  Slide a piece of graphite paper under your pattern paper, tape both onto your gourd with one or two pieces of transparent tape.  Trace along the pattern lines with a colored ink pen.

 Try our Fun Wood Spirits pattern package at ArtDesignsStudio.com for your wood spirit craft pattern.  This pattern package by Lora Irish contains 14 wood spirit patterns, each accompanied by a detailed shaded drawing to guide you through the shading of the face.

Creating an underpainting


Gourd Art Wood Spirit Mask Free Project5.  On a clean palette place a small amount of burnt umber, navy blue, ocher yellow, and titanium white acrylic craft paint.

6.  Thin each color slightly with water.  Using a 1/4″ flat sable shader and a #2 or #1 liner begin with your burnt umber to shade the darkest areas of the face.  As you work you can smooth the edges of your shading by following each brush stroke with a slightly damp  brush.  Run the damp brush along the edge of the brush stroke to lighten the color application.

The darkest areas of the face are in the space between the eyes and nose bridge, in the cheek folds along the sides of the nose and nostrils, and under the mustache.  The inside of the nostrils and mouth are painted solid burnt umber.

The medium dark areas are just below the lower eye lids, at the outer corners of the eyes, the top of the chin which is in shadow from the mustache, and along the bottom rolled edge of the nose.

Highlight with titanium white at the center of the upper eye lids, along the center ridge of the nose, along the tops of the nostrils, and at the top of the lower lip.  Add a small white highlight at the center top of any cheek wrinkle.

Use ocher yellow on the bottom edge of the mustache.  Titanium white fills the eye area.  Add a small amount of navy blue to the white and shadow the eye ball along the upper eye lid.  Use carbon black to create the eye pupil.  Allow to dry, do not use a spray sealer at this stage on your gourd.

Gourd Art Wood Spirit Mask Free ProjectColored pencil detailing

7.  After the acrylic paint has dried it creates a finely textured surface that is perfect for grabbing colored pencil work.  As you add the colored pencil details keep each pencil very well sharpened.

Use a wide variety of colors in your colored pencil work.  For my Urban Warrior I used cherry red, indigo blue, forest green, and royal purple, along with the tones of umber brown and black.  Use fine lines to accent the acrylic painting.




Gourd Art Wood Spirit Mask Free Project8.  Using tones of ocher yellow, orange, rust, and maroon red colored pencils add your skin tone coloring.  The brightest area of skin color on a face falls along the ridge of the nose, high areas of the cheeks, the upper eye lids, and the lower lip.


9.  A final colored pencil toning is done using beige and titanium white to add highlights to the top of the nose, the highlights in the cheeks, and along the center of the upper eye lid.




Gourd Art Wood Spirit Mask Free ProjectSharpen your titanium white pencil and create individual hairs in the eyebrows, mustache, and beard.








webface-00810.  To add strong, bold lines in the face use a fine-point or medium-point permanent marking pen.  My solid black line work falls along the upper eye lid, the cheek wrinkles near the nose, along the lower half of the side of the nose, and along the outside lines of the lower lip.  Add a second layer of titanium white colored pencil to strengthen the hair in the eyebrows and beard.

Lightly spray your gourd painting with two coats of re-workable matte spray sealer.

For more great wood spirit patterns at ArtDesignsStudio.com please visit Leaf Eatters, 14 line art craft patterns based on the classic Gothic leaf eatter and Green Man Cathedral patterns.

Decorating your Urban Warrior

In this close-up photo the brightly colored pencil work stands out because it lies upon a darker, shaded acrylic paint base.  To add to the brightness of the finished mask let’s add the raffia, seagrass, and vintage jewelry work.

Decorate your Urban Warrior Mask with any type of craft products – raffia, yarn, string, scrapbook paper, ribbons, jewelry beads, and even vintage necklaces or earrings.

1.  Using a hot glue gun secure a strand of twisted seagrass, a basket weaving product, around the cut edge of the gourd section.  My gourd was thick enough that it took three complete turn of seagrass to completely cover the edge.  You could also use bailing twine or sisal, thick knitting yarn, or basket weaving round reed.

Gourd Art Wood Spirit Mask Free Project2.  The long turquoise bead strands were worked from a vintage necklace.  Cut the necklace apart, saving all beads.  Cut a 1 yard length of crochet cotton or any other heavy thread.  Fold the thread in half, feed the loop through one of the drilled holes at the bottom of the gourd section.  Thread the ends of the crochet cotton through the loop and gently pull into place to create a half-hitch knot.

The ends of the thread can now be threaded through your vintage jewelry beads.  Tie a simple overhand knot in the string to secure each bead at different levels along the thread.

3.  Create the beard using raffia.  Do not dampen or per-moisten the raffia, work with it dry.  Pull three to four long strands from the hank.  Fold them in half and tie a simple overhand knot about 1″ from the fold.  Hot glue the knot to the inside area of the gourd along the lower edge.  I added raffia beard hair to the mid-point of the mask.  After all of the beard is in place that the glue set, trim the raffia to create a long oval-shape to the beard.

Beards can also be created using yarn, string, crochet cotton, sisal, and even ribbons.  For finer thread material you can sew the folded center of each strand to a length of bias sewing tape, then hot glue the tape – not the individual strands – to the back of the gourd.

4.  Lay the jewelry crochet strings over the face.  Along the top of the raffia beard hot glue brown floral moss to the outer edge of the gourd.

5.  Using large holed beads, thread several lengths of raffia through a bead and tie a knot near the end of the raffia to hold the bead into place.  I added about seven large ceramic beads.

6.  As you are looking through your vintage jewelry look for any out dated bracelets or damaged necklaces that can be hot glued to the outer edge of the gourd.  As my finishing accent I glued a large, bold copper hooped earring to the side of his face and added a few leather and rattail strands.

7.  Use 16-gauge copper wire to create a hanging loop through the top drilled hole.  Your Urban Warrior is ready to display.

For more great craft, wood carving, and pyrography projects, please visit LSIrish.com, where we will spark your imagination!

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