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“What Do Llamas Do?”

September 11, 2017

When local artists Katy Torney and Leanne Pizio first met, they probably didn’t think they would one day be publishing a book together; however, after talking about doing a book about two years ago, they have created an adventurous children’s book about a llama named Inca.
Torney and Pizio first met during one of Pizio’s bi-annual Keep It Local Art Shows in Oak Ridge roughly eight years ago. During the art show, Pizio sells her various forms of art, including her pottery, which she is well known for in the area, and where Torney sells items she makes from weaving and spinning and where she shows off her two llamas, Inca and Carlos.
Torney explained that she has had llamas for over 20 years.
“At first, I wanted them for packing to go camping and for their fiber for weaving, but I never ended up using them for camping,” she said, as she shared how much she enjoys the majestic animals. “They are ambassadors of fun and they are calm.”
Torney dismissed the myth about llamas being known for spitting.
“The spitting is only done by llamas who have been mistreated by humans. They only usually spit at each other and it’s usually over food,” she said. “I have only been spit on once in 20 years, and it was an accident.”
While she now only has two llamas, Torney had eight at one time.
Along with using the llamas for their fiber, Torney also uses them for treks with little kids during farm visits, and during preschool visits in Greensboro.
In fact, that is where the idea for the book, “What Do Llamas Do?” came from.
“It’s the true story of what actually happened to Inca when we went to visit a preschool,” Torney said. “She ran down Friendly Avenue toward Wendover Avenue after getting scared.”
More specifically, the book states, “Inca loves to have fun. But sometimes fun can lead a llama into trouble.
Katy Torney, llama lady and writer, loves to tell stories about how she and her llamas trotted into schools ‘to teach the letter L.’ They showed children how llamas look like the letter ‘L’ and can carry everything you need for camping without ever eating your marshmallows. In hundreds of classrooms, Katy read stories and showed students how to turn llamas’ soft, warm fur into yarn that she could weave into scarves.
One thing Katy loves about her llamas is their good-natured patience. For years she dressed them in seasonal hats and trotted them into schools. That worked wonderfully until the day her llama, Inca, wore blinking antlers at Christmas. ‘I was impressed by Inca’s spunk and she seemed to have more fun than all the other llamas,’ remembers Katy, ‘but that December Inca surprised even me about what llamas do!’ Inca’s adventurous spirit was a great beginning to a fantastical story told from her point of view.
Katy knew she had the perfect illustrator for her story in Leanne Pizio, an Oak Ridge, North Carolina, artist. ‘I’d adored the playful whimsy of Leanne’s art for years,’ Katy says, ‘and no one understands the quirky fun of animals like she does!’”
“In ‘What Do Llamas Do?,’ Inca is kind of a rascal and does what llamas don’t traditionally do, but redeems herself in the end, and her owner (Katy) realizes how special she is,” Pizio added, noting that the book is educational.
When Torney originally thought about writing something on her llamas, she thought about making a pamphlet with information about Inca’s story and llamas; however, it ended up turning into a book. Along with the book, she ended up creating a pamphlet as well with facts about llamas.
Pizio explained that many of the images in the book are black and white because she used linoleum block prints.
“The book’s editor and graphic artist liked my pottery, so this is more similar to that than drawing. I used the linoleum block prints that I cut out and put on painted paper, which makes it a little unusual,” she shared, noting that she added paint on top of the linoleum block prints as well.
“Everyone we have met said they had never seen this kind of art in a children’s book before,” Torney added.
Torney and Pizio are having a book premiere on Friday, September 8 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. with a reading at 7 p.m. at Irving Park Art & Frame and a book signing on Saturday, September 9 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the same location. Torney will be doing a reading on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and Inca will be on site to meet visitors.
The cost of the book is $20. Irving Park Art & Frame is located at 2105-A W. Cornwallis Dr., Greensboro.
For more information about “What Do Llamas Do?” or to purchase the book on Etsy, visit www.etsy.com/listing/541183918/what-do-llamas-do or type “What Do Llamas Do” into the search box on Etsy. You can also contact Torney directly at 336-339-7818 or send an email to whatdollamasdo2@gmail.com.

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