Gourds ‘n Glass

By Dawn M. Aerts

Iron County Today

MESQUITE, Nev.–Lyle and Diana Powelson have been working together as artisans for decades – Diane creates decorative gourds with colorful patterns and images inspired by everything from Native-American culture, and nature, to embellished designs using beads, raffia or pine needles.

Her husband, Lyle is an accomplished colored-glass artisan.


“Lyle has a life-long passion for working with stained glass,” said Lyle of a self-taught journey into art.  He comes from a 40-year career working with sheet metal construction, patterns, and sodering. “I’ve always liked colored-glass, so when I retired, I joined a Club in Sun City here and made my first hummingbird with the group.”


He also enjoys gardening, deer hunting trips, and today with his wife Diana, they travel to more than 25 festivals and shows to display and sell intricate stained glass-art, while Diana works on artistic gourds of various sizes and shapes.


“I would say that we’re often inspired by the work of each other,” he said from his home in Mesquite.


On June 22 and 23, the Powelson’s work will be featured among 35 other vendors at the Frontier Homestead Museum ‘Folk Life’ festival.  The Powelson’s made their home in Nevada, after moving from Lee’s Summit, Mo., over seven years ago.


“There were a lot of clubs here to consider joining, but we really wanted to have outlets for the art we love doing,” Lyle said.


While Diana began oil painting years ago, she also pursued an interest in quilting, cross-stitch and other craft-making.  It was only after a friend suggested working on gourds that she began researching and experimenting with art-inspired gourds.  She uses a range of mediums in her work, from ink dyes and acrylics, to pyrography (wood burning) and oil painting.


Lyle, who had a lifelong passion for stained glass that began with a Glass Club, moved his work to an in-home studio to create custom-made and large-scale pieces.


“I had spent years soldering, so it came quite naturally for me to create patterns, designs and pieces that fit together technically.”


Their home is made full with stained glass elements and the equipment needed to create his work – from smaller ‘trinket’ size examples of geckos, turtles, Iris and butterflies to large-scale landscapes and desert scenes.


Meanwhile Diana’s work table is surrounded by a wide collection of gourds, large and small, with the precision equipment used to etch, imprint, draw or wood-burn into her work.

“I’ve probably created up to 300 gourd works and designs over the past several years,” she said of the craft. “It takes a lot of patience but we love the artistic outlets and it’s something we can share with others.”


According to Lyle, many hours of focus go into each piece.  “It is a little stressful, but I also find it very satisfying,” he said.  “We both have some physical conditions that can slow us down. But I think this is a very helpful form of art-therapy and takes your mind off the discomforts.”


When the Powelsons are not busy with their art-inspired creations, they enjoy spending time in a friendly (club) game of ‘Hand and Foot’ or Texas Hold-Em card games.


“We don’t have the five acres we used to have in Missouri., just a patio space and small yard, so Lyle still loves the garden, but we’ve found our niche in art.”


Their work can be seen at the Tuachan Saturday Market (Ivins); and at shows like the Enterprise Corn Fest, the Kony Coins for Kids Quilt Walk; Rising Star Women’s Day Out Craft Show, Mesquite.


Caption:  Diana and Lyle Powelson travel to more than 25 festivals, craft fairs and other shows to display decorative and artful gourds, and her husband’s talent in creating intricate stained glass work in customized sizes with varied inspirations — from landscapes, and butterflies to flowers and desert sunsets.



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