We harvested 4 or 5 gourds, and let them dry over the winter in the attic, where they were protected from wet weather but were subject to temperature extremes. The gourds all dried and you could hear the seeds inside when you shook them; the outsides dried and got a mottled, almost moldy appearance.
Following advice on the Internet, I scrubbed the gourds in the shower using a stainless steel Brillo-Pad-like product, let them dry, then applied paint. Results:
[image credit Gary]
It is not artistic and almost looks a tad cartoonish, but our guests on the patio certainly do a double-take when they see it.
I'm thinking of leaving one on the picnic table of the Reese Hollow Shelter (where I am the overseer), but the bride think that'd be cruel. However, I think it'd be obvious that it's NOT alive and would engender the "Oh, how cute!" reaction.
Besides, to get to "my" shelter any hiker or Ultrarunner has to pass through prime Timber Rattlesnake territory, so they oughta be prepared, right?