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ARTS: Llano artists open studios during annual tour

What: Llano Art Studio Tour

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Sites in and around Llano

Cost: Free

What else: Maps with lists and locations of art studios are available at shops throughout the city or from the Llano Chamber of Commerce, 100 Train Station Drive.

Contact: 325-247-5354 or

Llano is famous for its endless fields of bluebonnets, but wildflowers aren’t the town’s only source of beauty.

The Hill Country town’s artists will open their studios from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday for the second annual Llano Art Studio Tours.

Living their slogan, “We live here, we create here,” 16 Llano County artists will display — and sell — art in mediums from fabric, glass, paint, jewelry and photography to clay, iron, leather, metal and wood.

The event takes place at their studios in and around the town, which is about 130 miles southeast of San Angelo.

Tour information and maps to studios are available at shops throughout the city and at the Llano Chamber of Commerce, 100 Train Station Drive (on the east side of Highway 16, just north of the Llano River Bridge).

Kathleen Smith, whose Texas Tin Lizard gallery is included on the tour, said she has been creating unique art from recycled metal and glass for more than four years.

Her first creation was a “bottle tree,” created from eight bottles she found.

“They were so beautiful when the sun hit them,” she said. Using “trial and error,” she put together an original sculpture using the bottles and metal.

Friends who saw it asked her, “Where did you get the bottle tree?”

“From the backyard,” she told them.

She made a few more of the bottle sculptures for friends and gradually began selling them.

“I don’t get rich,” she said, laughing. “But it’s what I enjoy. I like showing you can recycle things and turn them into conversation pieces.”

She also creates her trademark “tin lizards” from found items. They decorate her fence and yard, along with other assorted “critters.”

Kathleen said Llano’s art community continues to grow as retirees and others — artists as well as potential art customers — move to the area.

“We’re making things here, not in China or Mexico,” she said proudly.

“I see good things happening.”

Metal artist Richard Wendt offered visitors live music at his shop during last year’s studio tour. This year, he’s planning to serve hors d’oeuvres. “And we’re sprucing up the shop for the visitors,” he said, chuckling.

His metal fabrication shop, located in a former gas station at the south end of the Llano River Bridge, is a landmark in the town’s art community.

Richard’s father, Charles Wendt, founded the Nailhead Spur Co. in Van Horn in 1996 and relocated to Llano two years later. (Now retired, Charles runs Rocking W Spurs from home. He is a part of Saturday’s studio tours and will demonstrate how to make “thunder gourds” at his home shop at 2 p.m.)

At Richard’s downtown shop, he and four employees build everything from spiral staircases and lighting fixtures to ranch gates. (They built the gate at Bentwood in San Angelo.)

“Our claim to fame is custom work, but we also stock items like Western wind chimes, boot scrapers and more,” he said.

He said Llano has a group of artists who are “very focused on what we do — and we do it day in and day out.”

Richard suggested visitors to the Llano Art Studio Tours see as many studios as possible.

“You’ll go to one place and say, ‘Wow! That’s cool,’ ” he said.

“Then you’ll go to the next place and say, ‘Wow! That’s even cooler.’ “

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