Preserved gourds are often used for decorative purposes, as well as for the construction of some percussive and stringed instruments. Gourds are fruits that belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, a family of fruits with over 800 different species. A great deal of the gourd preservation process involves adequate drying, followed by minor chemical treatments.
When severing a gourd loose for preservation, cut with well-sharpened shears or a knife to make a clean cut, and leave a couple of inches of stem on the gourd itself to prevent damaging the gourd. The severed gourd should be washed clean in lukewarm soap water, followed by a rinse of clean lukewarm water mixed with a liberal dose of 5% strength white vinegar for disinfecting. Use a soft, clean cloth rag to dry the gourd off.
For the drying, lay sheets of newspaper on a flat surface in a room that is warm, dark and dry, and place the gourds on the newspaper so that they aren't in contact with each other. Since the heat in a home rises to the uppermost floor, an attic space with little to no sunlight exposure is ideal for gourd drying. Leave the gourds to dry for four to five weeks. As they're drying, check to make sure that the newspaper they're on hasn't become dampened. You'll also need to wipe them down two to three times a week during this period with a soft, clean cloth rag dipped in 5% strength white vinegar, to prevent mold growth. The surface of the gourds should become hard during this period. Any gourds which become soft and wrinkled are rotting rather than hardening and should be disposed of.
Once the gourds have dried and hardened thoroughly, they can be coated with a clear paste wax or a shellac varnish to further preserve the outside shell of the gourd and give it a shiny exterior.