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Sandra Cilyok of Elizabethtown looked at a yellow gourd in her hand and saw a penguin.
“He just looked like a penguin when I looked at him,” she said.
Cilyok once held a fuzzy newborn penguin at an aquarium and is a fan of the animated movie “Happy Feet,” which is about the animals.
She used a palate of acrylic paints to add a glossy coating of black and white to her gourd and transformed it into a bird during a class about decorating the vegetables Tuesday at the Hardin County Public Library branch on Jim Owen Drive in Elizabethtown.
The class provided about 20 visitors with gourds and materials and tips to decorate them
Cilyok thought the class sounded like fun.
She used to volunteer at the library twice each week and had to drop to once a week because she began participating in so many library events, such as the gourd decorating class.
“I love getting out and meeting people and learning new things and new ideas,” she said. “There’s no reason for someone to say there’s nothing to do because the place is humming with something all the time.”
Instructor, Rita Wooden of Elizabethtown, said it was great the library provided patrons the chance to learn the craft. She wished she had known of similar classes when she was teaching herself to paint, stain and burn designs along the gourds she grows on her family’s farm.
“I have learned a lot through trial and error,” she said.
Wooden explained to visitors how much work it can be to scrub gourds clean to use and how unforgiving leather dye can be as a material.
She enjoyed watching the amateur artists each interpreted their different visions of how the gourds could look.
Linda St. Clair of Elizabethtown carefully painted a patchwork of multicolored squares on her gourd and laughed as she said she was having too much fun.
St. Clair said she’s not usually creative, and she learned a lot from the class.
“It’s always fun to do something new,” she said.
Wooden said the creations can be kept forever or can safely biodegrade outside, rather than taking room in landfills.
“I think we need to be teaching more of that to children,” she said.
Natalie Sloan and her brother, Nicholas, had fun painting their gourds along with the adults who attended the event.
Natalie, a sixth-grader at T.K. Stone Middle School, carefully painted a cat, imagining the thin, curvy section as a tail.
Nicholas, a preschooler at Elizabethtown Christian Academy, was designing a superhero of his own imagining.
Their father, Tim Sloan of Elizabethtown, thought the activity seemed fun and educational.
“It’s better than watching TV, or in her case, doing homework,” he said.
Their mother, Irina Sloan, hoped to be able to bring her family to enjoy similar events in the future.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.