Elgin-based artisan Kiyo Taylor shows off some of her silver wares. Photo by Pat McNamara

One need not look too far in our Sky Island area to find creative and very talented artists. One of them is Elgin-based Kiyo Taylor, whose exquisite silverwork and jewelry have garnered return customers from all over the world.

A difficult family situation spurred Taylor, a Colorado native, to drop out of high school. However, a special program afforded her the opportunity to finish her education if she lived on a reservation in Navajo country and studied there.

She moved in with a Navajo family of silversmiths, whose home had no indoor plumbing or central heat. Under the family’s tutelage she learned her craft, which she continued with several weeks at an engraving school.

Taylor enrolled at Prescott College in Arizona to further her studies, but soon became disenchanted. With a youthful sense of adventure, and an interest in range management, Taylor and a friend left Prescott in
1988 to explore southern Arizona on a self-funded, seven-month journey. They were on a mission to “reconnaissance the area for the future Arizona trail,” says Taylor. Part of their time was spent at the Sonoita Fairgrounds for some rest and relaxation.

Taylor settled in this area in 1990, doing odd jobs on ranches, cleaning houses and working at the original Steak Out Restaurant before it went up in flames. All the while, she worked to perfect her silversmith craft, gradually building a name for herself by spending many a weekend on the road, selling her work at the National Finals Rodeo and other large horse shows and sales.

For a couple of years, starting in 2003, Taylor had a studio in Sonoita. Now, with a loyal clientele from all over the world, she has been able to buy a house in Elgin.

Except for a couple of days a week at an outside job in Sierra Vista to “get out of the house and socialize,” Taylor is content to create and market her jewelry and belt buckles online fulltime. All of her inventory is her own designs. She specializes in the southwestern genre, with her creations featuring mostly horses, cowboys and nature.

Taylor’s business, Horsecamp Design Studio, can be seen online at kiyotaylorsilverwork.com. She is on Facebook and Instagram.