Sunday, March 31, 2013

Buy Handmade vol 53

This week we head out to Prescott, AZ

Name:  Kerry Estey Keith
Age:  48
Occupation:  Photographic Artist/Treasure Maker, Wilderness Wanderer, Optimista
Etsy Shop:

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I find this part hard: the telling about myself.  I have always been a content loner, contemplative wilderness lover.  I grew up with horses and was off riding through the forests and fields of New England at a very young age.  Creative endeavors supported me through college where I earned a double major BA in Expressive Arts and Transpersonal Psychology (I know, right?): I set up a little booth in the student lounge and sold batik t-shirts, beaded necklaces, even haircuts.  I taught rock-climbing and led backpacking trips.  I also met the love of my life at Prescott College and together we created three wild, tree-climbing, dirt-loving children.  Our two sons are now off at college, the 12-year old daughter is still creatively learning about life while “un-schooling.” (You can read about our home-schooling style on my blog.)  In 2005, we moved to a remote off-the-grid environmental education and research center.  We managed that center until last year, when we moved closer to town for the children.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy? 

I have been creating and selling art, photography, and crafts since college in 1987.  However, I put my work aside to create a thriving home-schooling environment and run the environmental education center until just recently.   I have been selling on Etsy for about four months.  

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it? 

I named the shop after my blog, Woman on Wild Mountain, which documents and records my life as an artist living a wilderness-based life.  My original blog was called “Creek and Mesa” named for the two wilderness areas we lived between:  Juniper Mesa Wilderness and Apache Creek Wilderness 

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?I am lucky enough to have an amazing man who really is the “bread winner.”  I took on the role of full-time parent, home schooling mom, gardener, creator of art, and research center manager.  I do bring in a steady income from my Etsy shop and gallery show sales, but at this point it would not be a full supporting income on its own.  My Etsy shop is slowly building on itself and my sales have been steadily increasing as more people read my blog and see my work around.  

Where do you get your inspiration from?  

Every drop of my inspiration comes from the wild places of the earth, a simple life and the silence between the moments of “busy”. I walk, hike and run every day that I can; these are the moments I get inspired to create art.  For many years, my art was my garden and my children.  I felt that everything I had (creatively speaking) was being poured into providing the most nurturing home-schooling environment and abundant garden I could man. I did not create any art to sell.  I did, however, learn to brain-tan elk hides into buckskin, make beaded buckskin bags, develop and print film in a darkroom, make fire with a bow drill, track critters in a creek, pit-fire pottery made with local clay and work with elk and deer antlers.  So in a way, much of my inspiration comes from these special years with young children where I learned many new things.  Although my daughter is still learning at home, she is now the age where I can disappear into my studio for a few hours or go running in the forest while she studies French, trains as a gymnast or goes rock-climbing with her papa.

Do you also sell your work at craft shows?  

I have had several photographic art and jewelry exhibits since beginning my work as a craftswoman/artisan/photographer.  My first show took a lot more time to prepare for than the ones I do now.  I have had very good feedback from my shows and generally get the vibe that people appreciate my work and I should continue.  

What is your most cherished handmade item? 

My most cherished handmade item is one that I ended up selling because a woman wanted an antler/turquoise pendant from me, but she wanted the ONE I WAS WEARING! It was the first one I ever made (2005) and the reason I began making them to sell was because I got so many compliments on that particular one.  As soon as I started making them to sell, I couldn’t keep my inventory up.  It was quite exciting.  

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do? 

I have always been a solitary wilderness explorer.  When I was 19 I hiked for three months (alone) on the Appalachian Trail.  I have been exploring, collecting and photographing ever since. I am a rock climber, forest runner and general bushwhacker.  I hike mostly off-trail and this is how I find most of my natural treasures (twig, stone, feather and bone.)

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be and why? 

If I weren’t an artist, I would be a research biologist living at a remote field station somewhere in Idaho, Wyoming or Montana studying one of the many earth creatures I love and writing a book.

Five years from now you will be… living in a cabin in the wilderness, creating art, running in the forests, collecting bones and photographing the things I love.  I will be growing veggies, hugging my people, horses, cats and dogs.  I will be making a full-time income from my online shop, craft fairs and gallery shows.  Or maybe traveling with husband and daughter to British Columbia in the little vintage trailer I just bought to restore. So you see, I love my life and would change very little.  I would be doing all the same things I am doing now (except making a little more money doing it.)

Describe yourself in five words: In-love, self-reliant, happy-hermit, tree-hugger, GRATEFUL!

Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your <insert whatever type of music player you use here>, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list? 

Blind Pilot, Alexi Murdoch, Three Tall Pines, Ray LaMontagne, Avett Brothers

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?

Oh My Goodness, follow your heart and inspiration!  Be Grateful every day for the gift of creativity and let your shop and business grow organically.  It will come together if you keep your vision strong with intention.  What I mean is if you keep your intention and desire and passion clear and strong, you will accomplish amazing things.