Coming of age

Local residents focus on their passions

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Carver Ken Craig built much of his Washougal home himself, using reclaimed douglas fir and cedar boards. He describes it as a "work in progress." Placed beside his home are various carvings he has created over the years. Craig turned his passion for carving into a career of sorts after moving to Washougal 10 years ago.

It’s not uncommon to change career paths as a millennial, but this trend isn’t limited to those from younger generations.

After moving to Washougal in his mid-50s and facing challenges securing steady employment, Ken Craig turned his passion for woodcarving into a full-time vocation.

The 63-year-old recently created a series of 30 wooden Sasquatches for the city of North Bonneville, as a part of its 12-mile paved “Discovery Trails” pathway project. The creatures range in size from 2 to 15 feet, and depict a variety of scenes.

“You start doing odd jobs to make ends meet, then discover you can trade your work for different services and it goes from there,” Craig said.

Craig started carving 30 years ago, after a former girlfriend introduced him to the craft, and says he’s been doing it ever since. Now, Craig carves everything from Native American themed museum pieces to Bigfoot, bears and critters.

When he’s not carving, Craig, a lifelong musician, enjoys playing his 6- and 12-string guitars, along with the banjo, mandolin, cello and keyboards. He recorded CDs in the past and used to tour with Lee Douglas Crossing in the 1980s and ’90s. He still performs at weddings, retirement parties and other events.

“Music and carving are my favorite forms of expression,” Craig said.

His business name, Shota Woodcarving, is inspired by his Native American heritage. “Shota,” means “smoke,” Craig explained.

He mainly works with reclaimed cedar or redwood as these types of wood are more pliable and make it an easier fit for carving.

When Craig’s career as a carver first took off, he would spend most weekends traveling up and down the West Coast to art and craft fairs. It was fun, and he made good money, but it also got hectic.

Nowadays, you’re likely to find him in his garage studio or tinkering on his house, which is made mostly from douglas fir and cedar lumber. Like his carving career, his home is always a work in progress, Craig said.

“I’m pretty much self-taught with everything I do,” he added. “I love the letting go, (becoming) involved with carving and the freedom of it. Engaging in music and carving, you go to this place where you’re not inundated with thoughts. You’re just creating and letting things be.”

Craig used to maintain a website, but now relies on Facebook and word-of-mouth referrals.

“I decided about three years ago, that I didn’t need to strategize anymore,” he said. “I believe that everything which needs to happen, will. And I will keep riding along.”

“All about that junk”

Tracey Buxton has been a “junker,” as she describes it, for 30 years.

“I did it before it was cool,” she said. “I love yard sales and finding junk that can be treasure.”

Indeed, her business, “All about that junk,” has the tagline, “It’s not hoarding if it’s cool stuff.”

The career junker has recently refocused her business vision on a line of shirts, tank tops, coffee mugs and other shabby chic items with funny sayings.

Until recently, Buxton worked as a full-time talent recruiter for a Portland company, but was part of a layoff in June. Like Craig, Buxton, 60, has decided to refocus her energies and pursue her true passion by growing her “All about that junk” business.

“I didn’t feel bad about losing my job because it is allowing me to spend more time doing this,” she said, gesturing to her space at Camas Antiques. “I love it.”

Buxton will be one of the featured vendors at the upcoming Vintage and Art Faire, held on the streets of downtown Camas from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, August 26. This event brings more than 60 vintage, antique, and local art vendors to Camas each year and fills the downtown streets with vintage, antique, repurposed and other offerings.

Vendors will bring a large variety of indoor and outdoor furniture, home and garden items, as well as clothing and accessories. Art will include paintings, metal work, garden art, photography, handmade jewelry, fiber art and recycled art.

It will be Buxton’s third year at the event.

“It’s exciting and I love it, especially being around like-minded people,” she said. “I even love the setting up and the tearing down. Everyone who visits your booth, you get to know them. It’s a real feeling of community.”