About my work
Gourd Belts
Tangled Gourd Art

About My Work

What to learn my techniques?

Check out my classes

Most of my jewelry pieces begin with parts of a gourd shell and become weightless pieces of wearable art! I taught on a Native American settlement when I was in Iowa almost twenty years ago and have spent much of my time here in Arizona traveling to the different pueblos in Arizona and New Mexico . In fact, I have a collection of Acoma pottery that inspired many of my pieces. The Southwest culture has inspired much of my gourd art.

Some of the pieces include Arizona petroglyph symbols in the design. One of my signature symbols, that I make in wire, is the spiral which many believe to represent “a journey” to the ancient ones who lived long ago here in the Southwest and painted them on rocks. For me, it represents the journey of life that we all participant in everyday. Wearing it reminds me that each day counts and millions of people are also on the same journey, some on harder trails than I. I really am fortunate to have a rich culture surrounding me to draw ideas from and each piece of gourd seems to take me on a journey that taps into my past experiences.

I also try to include animals and images that my buyers ask for. I know many of you are collectors or have friends that collect a certain animal or bird image. So you will find lots of cats, butterflies, dragonflies and lizards and of coursethe kokopeli, the quail and road runner.

But I also have come contemporary pieces that go beyond the southwest look. I have tried to listen to my customers and have images they prefer in both big and small pieces. Being a "big lady" I can wear big pieces of jewelry. The gourd is weightless, so I can make the necklace as big as I dare and not worry about the weight around my neck. If you are a fan of the big pieces why not commission me to create something special for you with your favorite image?

Wire work and wooden beads

One of my favorite metals is copper and we see much of it in southwest design work. I enjoy the challenge of finding copper findings and beads. Many of my jewelry pieces have beads added to the surface using copper or other metal.

I have settled on using mostly wooden beads because they are light weight and help keep the price of the piece low. I have also found beads and embellishments on jewelry found at thrift shops and at the Goodwill store. I really like the challenge of re-purposing jewelry elements taken from old pieces no one wants! I make all the earrings while I watch television. My husband I don't like the same programs so I keep my mind and hands busy making earrings!


My second love is drawing with patterns. I am a fan of the art form called zentangles. I recently moved that interest into my gourd jewelry. Many of the patterns I used in my drawings I found I could not wood burn easily, so I had to create some new patterns to use. This led me to teaching my new technique to others and finally to writing a book which you can learn more about at my Zen Drawing Gallery web site.

I am Hooked!

So I hope you take a look at my work and I promise to add more. If you are interested in something you see on this site, email me and I will share info and more pictures. I would be thrilled if you could take a few steps on my “journey trail” and share some of your experiences and knowledge or just tell me what you think of my work and offer me new ideas!

Bettie Lake