What happens when you play with your fruit rather than eat it? You can make all sorts of beautiful, noisy things, according to Santa Fe gourd rattle artist, Marianne Macres.
Macres, began painting ornamental gourds for ceremonial rituals after she met a friend in Taos several years back who taught her all about the viney fruit.
A trained artist from southern California, Macres found a new passion when she picked up her first dried gourd rattler and shook it. Fifteen years later, Macres founded Gourdjus Rattles and began selling her custom made designs for Native American rituals, spiritual ceremonies, and personal collections.
Before coming to New Mexico, Macres lived in Maui for nearly two decades earning her living as a well-known scrimshaw artist. Her love of flowers was apparent in all of her pieces, each design had a blossom or a plant that she painted in tiny detail. As much as she loved her work, Macres began to get discouraged over the harvested ivory that came from elephants which provided her art medium. She eventually ended her career working with ivory and focused on raising her family until she moved to New Mexico in the early 90's.
She chooses her gourds based on their shape, texture and variety. Ornamentals, including Crown of Thorns, are great for floral designs while hard shells work well for animal and pagan totems. She buys local, getting the majority of ornamentals from a roadside stand in Riconada, NM. If she can't get certain varieties there, she purchases them from several organic farms in California. She refuses to buy imports from other countries.
Macres explains her design process is a random one. She says the stick or handle often comes first, which she finds on her long walks in the mountains. Her favorite material is aged wood that she gets from juniper, cottonwood, sycamore, apple wood and cholla plants and trees. Her prerequisite is that they must have character.
A deep spiritual connection is apparent in all of Macres's gourds. Creating art from a living, organic source that is used for a ceremonial purpose gives her great pleasure. Healers, Shamans and therapists all use her gourd rattles to call upon spiritual guides from the past to integrate and heal those in the present. Macres says each gourd she designs has its own personality, soul, and sound, which she says "invokes the spirit... driving the heartbeat of Mother Earth."
"I couldn't be happier doing my part as an artist to create something that is used in the healing process," says Macres.
Rattles range from $30.00 to $75.00. Marianne Macres may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by her Etsy website: www.GourdjusRattles.etsy.com
All photos provided and property of Marianne Macres.