MENTONE, Ala. (AP) _ Singer Willie Nelson owns three of them and they're winning fans around the nation, even though ''Gourdies'' can look a little bizarre, with gourds for faces.

Gourdies, made of the ornamental vegetables and burlap, can be decked out with painted faces to represent almost anything from lawyers and doctors to Sylvester Stallone's Rambo character.

Edmond Cash of Rome, Ga., said he had been a Gourdie fan for some time and took Nelson to the small shop where they are made in this northeast Alabama town in December.

''He is just a friend of mine and just came up on a friendly visit - sort of kicking the tires, as the ol' boy would say, I guess,'' said Cash.

Sharon Barron, creator of Gourdies and author of a recent book about them, said she had received orders and inquiries from throughout the country.

''It's been fantastic,'' she said.

''I've probably bought every gourd in Alabama - got them stored all over the place just so we won't run out.''

The big item in the Gourdie line today is the professional look - Gourdies designed to match professions.

There's the Gourdie lawyer, which has a divorce decree in one hand and a will in the other. There are Gourdies representing pirates, with a patched eye; beauticians, bleached hair and all; chefs; wizards; teachers, airline pilots.

''I had two people who wanted a country preacher Gourdie,'' Ms. Barron said.