Wood becomes art

Karel and Bill Hurt work in their shop on their respective lathes. Bill makes beautiful bowls and Karel turns smaller items. Enlargephoto

Special to the Journal

Karel and Bill Hurt work in their shop on their respective lathes. Bill makes beautiful bowls and Karel turns smaller items.

Bill and Karel Hurt, of Cortez, are featured artists at the Artisans of Mancos. A reception will be this Friday, Dec. 7, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The Hurts both turn wood on a lathe in their shop at their house. However, Bill mostly makes bowls that are made of different kinds of wood, while Karel likes to make smaller items, such as tops, thimbles, necklaces, tiny vases, and salt and pepper shakers.

Bill, who comes from a family of farmers in Kentucky, built the lathe when he retired in 1996 that he still uses today. He became interested in turning wood at that time, and building a lathe was the only way that made sense to him. His bowls take a while to make, as he glues the various kinds of wood together, and then shapes it into a bowl as he turns it on his lathe.

Karel uses a commercial lathe — a Grizzly — and enjoys seeing what she can do with the wood. She likes to pick out wood that Bill has discarded for one reason or another, and seeing what she can make with it. “I just do whatever the wood tells me to do!” she said.

The wood they use in their projects is mostly the harder woods, such as walnut, maple and poplar. The softer woods, like aspen and cottonwood, are what Karel can use for her smaller items. They don’t throw much away, as evidenced by their shop and outside woodpiles. But it all goes to good use.

Many of their projects are made of burls, which are large growths in a tree that have caused the grain to grow in a deformed way. As Karel said, “Until it gets made into something and a finish is put on it, it’s just wood.” But the Hurts can see the beauty in just about any piece of wood they find.

“The nice thing about working with wood is that when you make a mistake, it can go in the woodstove,” Bill said.

Karel was born in Cahone, and grew up in this area. Bill was born in Kentucky and served in the U.S. Army. They met through a mutual friend and schoolmate and were married in 1960. They have two sons and three granddaughters.