Friday, October 19, 2012
FREDERICKSBURG, Texas—People in the Lone Star State have long cursed the gnarled mesquite shrub as a pest on par with the mosquito, good for little except adding smoky flavor to barbecue.
It is thorny, forever thirsty and just plain unsightly. Ranchers hate it—they are losing the battle to eradicate mesquite to clear range for cattle.
But a hardy band of woodworkers has higher aspirations for mesquite: turning the twisted trees into objets d'art. And after two tool-busting decades spent carving misshapen mesquite trunks into rocking horses, golf clubs and tables, they have achieved a bit of fortune and fame.
The Texas Mesquite Art Festival, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last weekend, drew 9,500 visitors eager to see what a stubborn person can make out of a warped "trash tree."