By: Ann Marie Dotson
Bowling Green Daily News
Art can come in many forms, from oil painting on canvas to digital art to sculpting with clay.
One Bowling Green artist has chosen hard shell gourds as a way to showcase his passion for creating art.
Paul Buhrmester, known as the Burned Gourd artist, has been creating pieces from gourds since around 2010 and has been using the art of pyrography, a type of wood burning, for his designs.
“Basically, I have always liked making things,” Buhrmester said. “I have always tried different crafts. The only art class I had was in seventh grade. Beyond that, I liked fiddling around with everything.”
Buhrmester graduated from Western Kentucky University with a degree in communications and began working at Service One Credit Union. He then decided he wanted to find something to do outside of work, so he started making ornaments.
In 2008, he became interested in pyrography.
“Someone got me to try wood burning, so I bought some cheap wood and that was it,” he said.
His love of wood burning began to translate into his artistic use of gourds.
“The more I learned about that art form, that’s what led to my use of gourds about a year or two later,” he said. “It took a lot of self-learning.”
Burhmester said he first began to create his art with gourds after a visit to a farmer’s market, where he spotted two dried gourds, took them home and began experimenting.
“I would try different things. My main focus is wood burning, but I have started to delve off into carving, cutting and inlay,” he said.
His creations include small items like ornaments, bottle stoppers and necklaces and larger items like decorative bowls and lamps, “which are very popular.”
“I have also made some earrings out of gourds and one or two honey dippers,” he said. “It’s really cool to see the different things you can create.”
Burhmester’s artistic abilities have also led him to collaborate with other artists and to understand the importance of hand-made materials, rather than mass-produced items.
“For the most part, whatever it is I am doing, the detail makes the difference with me, and I always tell people if you find that one thing you like to do, you just keep doing it,” he said.
His works have been displayed all over Kentucky, including at The Gallery on The Square in Franklin, Completely Kentucky in Frankfort and at the Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea, which is one of his bigger displays.
He also plans to travel to Berea in July for a craft fair.
“I will be there hopefully teaching some workshops about the basics of pyrography on gourds,” he said. “That will be my focus. I absolutely love to do that, and my dream would be to teach in a classroom setting.”
Burhmester said the exciting part of his artistic journey is where it has taken him.
“I could never have imagined it,” he said. “Being able to open my eyes, meet all different kinds of people and discover all of the different things about art, that it is much more than just what is hanging up on a wall.”