Meet Handcrafted America’s Artisan Jamie Yocono, Wood & Tile Cabinets

Handcrafted America:

Jamie Yocono of Wood Is It!

Growing up in Los Angeles, Jamie Yocono often played in her father’s workshop, but it wasn’t until the family moved to Ohio, and Jamie discovered her new high school offered woodworking classes, that she started working in wood. She went on to Ohio University, earning a degree in furniture design, and ultimately opening her own studio.

Now located in Las Vegas, Jamie has created custom pieces for Nellis Air Force Base, the Prince of Saudi Arabia and the Thunderbirds pilots, among others. In 1994, she discovered her talent and love for teaching, when a friend asked if she knew of anyone who would teach woodworking classes at the University of Akron. Instead of offering a name, Jamie went ahead and developed a course plan and taught it herself.

In 2009 she took the plunge, and opened her own school to great success. Classes are always full and in high demand. Her teaching style is unique, infused with passion for her craft, encouragement, fun and creativity.

Meet Jamie…

What drew you to your chosen craft?

I grew up in a private school that didn’t offer Industrial Arts classes, so when my family moved across the country and I had an opportunity to go to public school for the first time, a woodworking piqued my interest. This was when women weren’t allowed to take them, so at first, the school balked. After I agreed to take Home Ec at the same time, I was given the chance to take a woodworking class!

What do you enjoy most about your craft?

Working with wood is remarkably forgiving, and every board presents its own challenge. If you come across a knot or defect, you can make decisions about it – keep it? Cut it away? Fill it in? The design decisions are endless, and every piece is different. It’s never boring!

Why is it important for people to make things with their own hands?

In our disposable society, we often gravitate toward pieces that have meaning to us – maybe a cradle that our grandfather built, or a chair that your aunt made. We enjoy pieces with meaning, and these days – less is more. Handmade pieces have a sentimentality to them that mass produced pieces don’t have.

In what ways are handmade goods better than those that are mass produced?

There’s no doubt that a handmade item is better scrutinized for quality and aesthetics than a mass produced item. Better attention is paid to the small things—sanding and finishing, for example. Details that are otherwise missed by “machines” can be carefully approached by humans, as we appreciate that attention to detail.

What does the future hold for your type of work?

As I continue to explore color and texture added into my work, I suspect I’ll be adding a variety of different materials into my arsenal. This will include metal, concrete, and of course – more handmade tile, with new glazes that I create. I enjoy including dual purpose to the mixed media that I employ, so much of my tile and inlay will include hidden messages and secret codes. For example, when I recently finished a set of dining room chairs, I inlaid the word “finished!” in Morse code on the back of the last chair. I definitely like the challenge of dual meanings and dual materials.


Handcrafted America is back with all-new episodes starting
Friday, August 11th at 8:30p ET!

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