DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
LLANO — Randy Hurst leaned forward in his chair a bit, a knife in his right hand and a man’s head in his left.
“It was about 20 years ago I got started in this,” Hurst said after making a small cut in the man’s face. “It was my dad who got me started.”
Hurst, who recently moved to the Llano area along with his wife, Patricia, from Indiana, made another cut to the man’s face before explaining how he came to the art of woodcarving. The wooden head in his left hand isn’t quite done, but when it is completed, it will be one of the many caricatures Hurst carves.
A table of carved caricatures sat before Hurst during the Llano County Lawn and Garden Show at Lutie Watkins Memorial United Methodist Church on March 21. On the table adjoining his caricatures, his wife showed off and sold her handmade reed baskets of all sizes and styles.
Hurst was led to woodcarving when his father told him about a carving group in their Indiana community. It didn’t take long before he picked up a carving tool and started down the path himself.
“And I’ve been working at it ever since,” he said with a grin.
The Hursts were among the many vendors, gardeners and artisans with booths at the annual lawn and garden show, which is sponsored by the Llano County Master Gardeners.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” said Julie Woodall of the Master Gardeners group about the show. “Though it was raining outside, we have over 300 people inside at the show. We had about 300 last year when it was nice and sunny outside. The event is definitely growing.”
It’s a great setting for people who enjoy gardening and similar activities to gather, mingle and share information.
Along with attracting gardeners, craftsman such as the Hursts set up and sell items. While his craft now focuses on caricatures, Hurst started with realistic carvings, including Native American busts. He said he misses the realistic work and plans on transitioning back to it in the future.
Just down the row from him, Jurate Gertzbein of Mermaid Knits (www.mermaidknits.com) spun alpaca wool into yarn — but not with a large, traditional spinning wheel. As she held the wool in her left hand and let it work through her fingers, a drop spindle spun at about 18 inches below. The drop spindle, or in this case, a Turkish spindle, spins and pulls at the wool, making it into yarn and even wrapping it into a ball.
“It just drops down from the wool,” Gertzbein explained. “It’s a portable way of spinning yarn. You can take it almost anywhere you can’t take a spinning wheel.”
Gertzbein, who winters in the area, lives “off the grid” in Canada just north of Minnesota during the summer. She’s not afraid of the cold weather. Before retiring to the lake, Gertzbein worked as a geologist for more than 30 years in Canada. Much of the time, she explored the Arctic area of Canada, searching for minerals in various capacities.
“Knitting became a way to stay alive because I basically knitted my hats, gloves and everything I needed to keep warm,” she said. While in the Llano area, Gertzbein leads a knitting and spinning guild to share the two crafts.
Woodall said the lawn and garden show draws an interesting group of people, but they all have a love for gardening and similar hobbies.
The Llano County Master Gardeners continue to look at ways to improve the garden show. This year, one member suggested a white-elephant gardening booth. Though nobody knew how it would go, the booth brought in several hundred dollars for the organization that will go to support one of the many Llano County Master Gardeners projects, such as the Depot Garden.
“We’re always looking for interesting and good presentation topics,” Woodall said regarding the lawn and garden show,
One of this year’s lawn and garden show stops with the largest increase in activity was the children’s booth, which was run by the Master Gardeners group.
“It’s so important to see that because if you get kids involved in gardening at a younger age, they’ll stick with it,” Woodall said.
While the 2015 Llano County Lawn and Garden Show is in the past, organization members are planning next year’s event. They’re working on about a half-dozen (at least) projects as well as leading a Junior Master Gardener program at Llano Elementary School.
“We’re a pretty active organization,” Woodall said.
Go to www.llanocountymastergardener.org for more information on the Llano County Master Gardeners.