Gourd Club News

Totem pole by Susan Walker

Martha Spillane

The members of the Gourd Club hope everyone had a wonderful summer and are ready to settle back into the many activities here at the Ranch. I know many of you took well-deserved vacations and brought back countless memories. My husband and I took a tour of Antelope Canyon, Page, Ariz., and Mesa Verde ruins in Colorado. I brought back enough inspiration to recreate our vacation decorating gourds.

I’d like to introduce you to Susan Walker, Gourd Club president. Susan was raised in Franklin Park, Ill., until the age of 13, along with her five siblings. I know we have several residents from Illinois. Anyone from Franklin Park? Susan’s grandpa had the local general store where she spent most of her summers helping him sort out the nuts, bolts, and screws. She recalled the sound of customer footsteps on the wooden plank floor. But mostly her fondest memory was sitting with her grandfather listening to Amos & Andy on the radio in the back of the store after closing. I bet that brought back some old memories for many of us. Thanks, Susan, for that reminiscence.

Her family moved to Stone Lake in northern Wisconsin, a small town of 300 private residents in the winter. During the summer however it became a bustling summer resort.

After attending college in Whitewater, Wis., and later marrying John Walker, no relation to Johnny Walker Red or Black, the couple took up residence in Minneapolis where they would eventually retire. By this time, she was becoming disenchanted with her present job and knew she wanted something more challenging, something she could call her own.

It was back to Susan’s old stomping ground of Stone Lake where they bought their home. Like so many of us, DIY (do-it-yourself) became our savior. In Susan’s case, she prevailed and realized her dream of opening “Betty Lou,” (in honor of her mother), a repurposing boutique shop. Pent-up for years, Susan was finally able to show off her creativity. She loved taking something old and repurposing it to become something else, such as an old bed spring into a trellis or a cocktail table into an upholstered bench. The shop was a success and so was retirement.

While vacationing in Phoenix they decided to take a ride to Tucson. During that ride they came across Robson Ranch. They’ve been here now for three years.

Susan’s gourds are all unique, creating one-of-a-kind wall masks, bowls, and vases with abstract designs. Susan has never had an art lesson and laughs when she thinks how an unknown item (“what’s a gourd?”) brought out this unknown talent of gourding.

Watch for upcoming art events in November. Susan will be displaying her gourds along with our other talented gourd members and their art interests.

Thinking about joining the Gourd Club? We’re open four days a week:

Mondays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Studio 3 of the Fine Arts Building. Come by and admire our showcase.