Debbie and John Wiles of GourDesigns took home first place in the craft division at the Professional Artisans Exhibition at the 2019 Illinois State Fair in Springfield.

The Mattoon couple juried into the exhibit earlier this month following a busy summer at local art festivals such as Art on Main in Canton and the Sugar Creek Arts Festival in Normal.

This first-place work (pictured above) features Illinois state insect — the Monarch butterfly. The large gourd bowl required teamwork by the retired couple that travels to Arizona each year to collect the gourds and then spends time preparing and carving as a team.

GourDesigns is a home business run out of the couple’s home. Their designs mainly feature the beauty of mother nature, including dragonflies, leaves and butterflies. Other items include Native American imagery.

The couple are members of the American Gourd Society, the Show Me Gourd Society and the Indiana Gourd Society.