One of the greatest things about being in the living history, reenactment, film, theater, and the music worlds is all the amazing and beautiful people I meet, whether in person and online.
Read on below and find out more about the amazing artisan of 18th century jewelry, historical romance book covers, and horse sanctuary advocate Kimberly Walters (also known as Sign of a Gray Horse online).
TA: First, for those unfamiliar with you, tell a little about yourself.
KW: I always have a hard time talking about myself. To be brief, I am a 32-year Department of Defense employee that has a passion, encouraged by my father, for genealogy and history – most specifically 17th and 18 th centuries. On the side, I operate a small business that I started in 2011 called K. Walters at the Sign of the Gray Horse to off-set the costs of my rescue horse. It has since blossomed to a total of five horses, which includes one Colonial Williamsburg retired horse. The original Gray Horse was Southern Belle. She started all of this in my life, and her spirit continues since she passed away of a tumor-related colic in 2014. She is the true brains and beauty of the business and why it exists. My hobbies are research, writing, hearth cooking, antiquing, and participating in living history events at various historic sites on the East Coast. I seem to work more often than not since I have two jobs; however, I truly enjoy the creativity that jewelry making has brought me since I am a more analytical person. I am also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, but am not active in a chapter. Most importantly, I am a lover of animals and all things good, honest, and kind. My favorite bible verses are Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and Proverbs 3:5-6.
TA: What would you say were some of your earliest influences for your work?
KW: When I started reenacting and participating in living history events at historic sites, I started to delve into studying portraits and prints to learn the dress, hairstyles, etc., and that included jewelry. I liked to emulate some of the styles when I am trying to put together an outfit for an event. I learned how to make earrings at a Daughters of the American Revolution chapter meeting focused on teaching crafts, and that started me on my way! Some of my earliest work was focused on pearls and other beaded jewelry. I was encouraged to sell by April Thomas of Fashion’s Revisited. She purchased a pair of some of my first pair of earrings, and the business blossomed from there. All proceeds from the business go to care for my horses or back into the business.
TA: Now you’ve not only made historically inspired jewelry, but you’ve also collaborated with some authors in creating book covers for their novels. What authors have you collaborated with and what covers can we see your work featured on?
KW: I have collaborated directly with authors Donna Thorland and Lucinda Brant. My jewelry is on Lucinda’s five new book covers for the Roxton Family Saga. I was honored to be a part of the project, and her website and blog have behind the scenes videos and articles of the making of the covers. I “met” Lucinda via Facebook when I approached her to review my cookery book. Things fell into place from there. She trusted my knowledge in jewelry that best matched what she had written in her books (I have actually listened to them all), and it came together beautifully. Her website is https://www.lucindabrant.com/blog. Donna’s book, Mistress Firebrand, does not have my jewelry on the cover, but Donna told me she was inspired by a Marigold yellow gown that she saw me in via Facebook, and had her heroine wearing a similar one on the cover. I was so honored! The photo in question I am sharing is the inspiration. I like to also think of myself as a firebrand! The photo was taken by Harry Aycock, a fellow living historian and friend with an excellent artistic eye. I have collaborated with Donna as well on Cardimom and Orange Flower Water cookies for the release of her book, The Dutch Girl. I also created a video on how to make the cookies, and she used my first book (A Book of Cookery by a Lady) as a reference that book. You can read more about Donna on her website at https://www.donnathorland.com/. My jewelry has been in other print media, television shows, movies, theatre productions, and advertisements shown on my website/blog. In fact, I met Donna Zakowska when I went to the set in Richmond, Virginia, for TURN, Washington’s Spies. She was the costume designer for that television series during the 2014-2015 timeframe and she also worked on the set of the HBO series John Adams. She purchased jewelry for the show, and told me that my shop was a treasure trove of all things in one place and saved her a lot of time and research looking for the right things.. The jewelry continued to be used and seen in Season 4.
TA: In addition to collaborating with others on their books, you’ve also written a couple of your own (I have my own copy of Tea in 18th Century America!). Would you talk a little about those?
KW: I have written two books, one you have mentioned, and the other is “A Book of Cookery by a Lady” published in 2014. That book was “in the making” when I was interpreting Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson, General Washington’s housekeeper during the American War for Independence in my early reenacting days in 2009. I dedicated that book to my parents and Mrs. Thompson as I felt she needed to be remembered. There is an entire chapter about her in the book. In order to write “A Book of Cookery by a Lady,” I had gone down the rabbit hole of reading 18 th century cookery books, making the recipes that I was interested in for reenactments, and then started to compile all of the tips, tricks, and specialty information in a file that you don’t learn in classes or with other hearth cooks. I found the books on-line in various places, purchased originals, and reproduction printings. I had had a hard time with people sharing their knowledge just to get me started unless I paid for it. Most in the hobby that I participate in want you to do your own research. I think that is fine and we certainly should, but there are many who do not know where to start or do not have the interest in doing so. It can be a struggle to do things right, so I decided to try to fix that for others coming in. The book is the perfect start, guide, and reference for anyone at any stage or just because you love early cooking methods or recipes. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and what time we want to put into what we are doing in every aspect of our lives. I decided to share all of my research to help progress the hobby in the collective knowledge. This book is totally self-published. That doesn’t mean that I did not have a publisher interested in putting my books out there, but when looking at the terms of a publisher, I realized how much of the money they keep and how much I would receive. So, I decided I wanted more money for my horses which is where the money goes when a book is sold. Not many know about “A Book of Cookery by a Lady,” but “Tea in 18 th Century America” was taken from a chapter of that book and expanded. That suggestion – and push to write it – was also encouraged by another friend, Jim McGaughey who runs the British Brigade. The “Tea” book was a collaboration with Jera Publishing, and I have them printed via Ingram. It is also dedicated to my parents, and Mrs. Margaret Tilghman Carroll of Mount Clare in what is now Baltimore with a chapter dedicated to her life.
My books can be purchased in my Etsy shop “SignoftheGrayHorse,” in select gift shops, or even on Amazon. I get more of the profits for my horses when purchased directly from me (and I can sign and personalize it as well).
TA: I’d also love to know more about your work with horse rescue!
KW: The horse rescue that I do is all my own. I am not a non-profit as I do not want to be beholden to the rules or dictates on how to care for my horses or what to do with them as a 501c3. I’m a very independent person, and an overachiever. I also do not rehome horses as many rescues do. I keep them. I now have five horses, and they are boarded at a private farm. My goal with my business was to always off-set their costs and hopefully pay for their board. I am achieving that with the help of all of those who purchase and support my business. I would LOVE to take on a few more horses; however, horses are expensive. Many do not understand just how expensive they can be and the real care needed. It isn’t the purchase of a horse that is the issue, it is the maintenance, boarding, feeding, etc., that is the true cost. My mindset of adopting animals is that they are with me for the rest of their lives or mine, and I do not just get rid of an animal because they are not convenient or healthy. Horses require a lot of time and attention as well to truly bond with them. They have a wonderful spirit and are a very calming influence which helps reduce any stress I have as a person with a disability. They are amazing animals who love to be adored, but doesn’t everyone? I work very hard for them as they are a part of my family.
TA: Are there any new projects or collaborations that you’re working on?
KW: I am working on a few new products to add to my shop that are unique and exclusive. One is a Masonic shirt pin for men, a very sturdy hat pin for the ladies, and a new shoe buckle named “Belle” that is universal. I have posted on my social media pages about the shoe buckles, but not the other two items. So, this is an exclusive reveal!
TA: And finally, where can people find you if they are interested in checking out more of your work?
KW: I can be found on Facebook and Instagram at “Sign of the Gray Horse.”
My horses have a Facebook page called “Southern Belle’s Story Continues with Nelson.” I often go LIVE in the evenings at the farm to watch the sunset and talk about and show off the horses. I have a website/blog where you can find a lot of my research and links (Pinterest, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram) at – www.kwaltersatthesignofthegrayhorse.com
My Etsy shop is SignoftheGrayHorse.
Thanks for reading! Go on a musical adventure with me through time where for three days I’ll send you a new song or story, and a personal email from me!
THREE DAY JOURNEY THROUGH TIME: https://tiffanyapancelticgothicrock.mailchimpsites.com
+++ FACEBOOK: http://facebook.com/tiffanyapanmusic
+++ WEBSITE: http://tiffanyapan.com
+++ INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/tiffanyapanmusic
SUPPORT THE MUSIC AND STORIES AND BUY ME A COFFEE!
Fans are describing her music and stories as a much welcome escape into another world. Drawing inspiration from the works of fantasy writers like JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Diana Gabaldon, and George R.R. Martin, along with historical events, mythology, ancient texts, and lore, Tiffany aims to take you into a world of bonfires, castles, dragons, and of course, time travel!
From ethereal gothic ballads to folk-tales inspired by the Celts and Viking sea adventures, symphonic world instrumentation and operatic blast beats that invoke passion and mystery, her voice and style has been described as being truly unique.