For five years in the early '90s, Steve Kitto resided in a wall tent in the Eskimo village of Emmonak, Alaska, and worked for the Department of Fish and Game. With few modern distractions and long breaks between fish-monitoring shifts, he had plenty of time to embrace new hobbies and was inspired by his Eskimo neighbors' woodworking skills. It took him four months to build his first chair.
A decade later, Kitto can finish a chair in a few weeks. He also makes much more than just chairs. Kitto makes everything from lamps to coffee tables to bar stools and has showrooms in Jackson Hole, Wyo., as well as Victor, Idaho (near Grand Targhee ski resort and next to his home that he single-handedly built—evidence that he believes in his craftsmanship).
During his stint in Alaska, Kitto had at his disposal an abundance of indigenous diamond willow wood, full of interesting knots, knobs and furrows. In Wyoming, he finds similar qualities in juniper wood (a rot-resistant cedar) and harvests the likes of discarded snowfences and windfallen trees. Though there are a number of pieces ready for purchase in his shop, Kitto works mainly on commission. He says of the average lead time: "Buyers will need to be patient and appreciate that the pieces are worth the wait," and his long list of repeat clients is a tribute to that fact. In terms of pricing, axe-handle barstools run about $400 apiece, lamps range from $200 to $2,000, desks and tables start at $1,800, and rocking chairs start at $3,200.
Contact Kitto at 307-690-1044 or email@example.com, or visit rustic-gallery.com.