Sunny-Side Art: Elizabeth Keith Designs

To Karen and Chris Montgomery, throwing caution to the wind involved a cross-country move from Los Angeles to Cary and starting a brand new home and garden accessory business.

Trading a Hugo Boss suit for shorts and a T-shirt, the Montgomerys can be found pouring cement and cutting metal in their dusty Cary studio daily.

Their company, Elizabeth Keith Designs, creates whimsical wall art and décor that can be displayed indoors or out. The most popular offerings are 3-D cement faces, exhibiting expressions like blissful, grin, peaceful, squint and smokey.

Faces pair with encircling metal rays in endless combinations. Choose from scroll rays, sunflower rays, star rays, windblown and many more.

The faces are designed by the couple’s business partner, Mike Markham, an artist and friend of the Mongomerys who still lives in California. Karen and Chris regularly introduce new rays to keep the selection fresh.

Patina-ed, laser-cut metal art represents a growing segment of their inventory, and gives Karen and Chris an outlet to be creative and take risks. Signs like “so excited we wet our plants” and “a dirty hoe is a happy hoe” show off the Montgomerys’ sense of humor and appeal to fun-loving customers as well.

“We follow the trends in home and garden,” said Karen, “and introduce new designs according to those trends,” such as “Fun Owl” or “Birds on a Wire,” which has sold more than 800 pieces since January.

Elizabeth Keith Designs primarily sells wholesale to shops and galleries across the country. Lazy Daze is one of only two retail shows they exhibit in each year.

“It’s fun to interact with the end customer, since we’re in the studio most of the time,” said Karen. “There’s a sense of pride having a show for our hometown.”

This will be their third appearance at Cary’s signature arts and crafts festival.

“It’s a great show for us,” said Chris. “How could we not do it?”

Elizabeth Keith Designs, Cary

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