Woodworker, Jamie Yocono
Meet Woodworking Artist Jamie Yocono. She began her woodworking career earning a bachelors degree in Furniture Design at Ohio University. Fast forward hundreds of projects later, in 2004 Jamie managed to do something no one else has done; open a successful Woodworking school in Las Vegas.
Her industrial sized space in North Las Vegas, Wood It Is!, offers classes, open shop work space, and an area to build her own custom projects for clients.
Everywhere! Nature, museums, even just walking around the casinos here in town gives me tons of ideas for my work. I’ve grown really fond of tribal artwork, so lately I’ve been studying and reading about petroglyphs and hieroglyphics. Ancient doodles – how cool!
Carving for a custom headboard by Jamie Yocono
Finished custom bed with hand carving by Jamie Yocono
On a related note – check out Mark Del Guidice’s website: http://www.markdelguidice.com. He’s one of my all time favorite woodworkers, and he incorporates his own hieroglyphics into his pieces. His work approaches perfection, in my mind.
When I was a younger, starving artist – I always dreamed about having a large studio, with every tool I needed right there at my disposal. These days, I actually have two work spaces – one for wood and one for my ceramic work. It’s a dream come true, but – be careful what you wish for!
Jamie at Wood It Is!
There is a joy to be found in having everything right at your fingertips. In my case, having two studios often means that a tool I need at one place is often sitting on a bench at the other shop!
Still – my studios are large, well equipped and afford me all the space I need to create. Especially in my ceramic studio – the walls and shelves are covered with past and present projects. I’m a big fan of full sized sketches, and try to keep most of them for future reference. At any given time – you’ll find pots or handmade tile in various stages of drying, and glaze color tests adorning the walls. It’s truly my favorite “spot” for creating, it just feels very cozy and perfect for inspiration.
It’s hard to describe – but because my woodshop is used by so many students, it feels much less intimate to me. It’s a full time job to keep everything maintained – and those tools feel like old friends by now. So – my woodshop is all about function and providing space for all the projects that pile up. I’m in awe when I think about all the wood and sawdust that is generated – and then when I see the finished pieces that built – it just blows me away. This is definitely a place where “the dance of doing” rules.
I guess that would depend on your definition of success! Are we talking dollars, or feeding our creative soul!?
Tiled Bench by Jamie Yocono
A few years ago, I built three pieces for the Saudi royal family; that was a total “thrill-build” – they’re all sitting in palaces somewhere. But I think my favorite pieces are the tiled benches that I build. They look like a typical bench that would fit perfectly at the foot of a bed, but that particular design has morphed over the years into something really special – something that I truly enjoy building. Each one is different, and amazing.
These benches are actually cleverly disguised lateral filing cabinets – perfect for a home office. Almost everyone needs a filing cabinet, but traditional filing cabinets are awful looking – who can blame anyone for wanting to hide them?
Another one of Jamie’s tiled benches
The first version of my benches featured solid raised panels of wood – and although they were gorgeous, I dreamed of adding color. That’s when my tile making gene kicked in. I started tiling the fronts of these benches – with murals or custom geometric designs – whatever my clients request. Each chest is like a small canvas on which I paint – and I couldn’t be happier coming up with new versions. Something that I never tire of making is truly a success in my mind!
Honestly, I’d just have to say there is not enough time in the day to do everything I want. I’ve kept every sketchbook I’ve ever used – I probably have forty of them on a bookshelf in my studio, and they’re filled with future designs to build. In a perfect world, I would have a chance to build everything I’ve sketched. The biggest joy? That’s hard to say, but it’s possibly the simple satisfaction of a job well done,be it large or small. At the end of a day, I can see what I’ve done. A lot of people can’t say that about their work.
That’s an easy one - Oatmeal/chocolate chip. Chewy, not crunchy.
This is going to sound crazy – but I hate to measure anything!
My eyes have been trained to “see” things perfectly, and they give me better proportions and scale than any tape measure. Still - I have to cut and machine things accurately when building, so my set of Lee Valley Set-Up blocks help me more than any other tool in my shop.
Armoire by Jamie Yocono
I’m almost embarrassed to say this – but I listen to rap almost exclusively. The frenzy and tempo work well with the pace I keep in the shop. There’s nothing like sanding to Eminem, or ripping wood to Jay-Z. It has to be loud and fast, if I want to get anything done!
Handmade ceramic tiles by Jamie Yocono
There are too many!
I use the internet for everything from driving directions to repair information. But I would say my one “go-to” site is All-Experts, where you can write to an expert in any given field and get help with something.
I’ve been a woodworking expert there since 2000, and have answered over 1700 wood-related questions. But more importantly – I’ve written to other experts there and learned everything from how to repair my clothes dryer to what those funny looking circles are that you see when flying in an airplane. (Crop irrigation circles)
Have a question about anything? Legal stuff? Gardening? Car repair? Computers? Health stuff?
Try this: http://www.allexperts.com
Find your niche and perfect it. I don’t care whether you’re making mugs or mantles, learn everything you can about them. And then make yours better.
One thing I’ve learned is that it’s a huge mistake to diversify too much. You can’t be building a bedroom set one week, and then turning bowls the next. You will never become proficient in either. So hone your skills down into one particular area, and become the best.
Like so many artists, I use Esty for selling my work. I joined Etsy without many expectations, but it’s been an incredible resource for selling my work. Here’s my store:
The sad part about being a furniture maker is that most people want to see and touch what they’re purchasing. And shipping is a huge obstacle, with high costs. So I’ve found that my ceramic work sells much better online than the larger pieces I build.
My website (http://www.wooditis.com) features many of my past and current projects, and it’s allowed me to connect with people all over the world – not just buyers, but other woodworkers. The world really became a much smaller place with the Internet, and I love the connections I’ve made.
I thank Jamie for taking the time out of her busy day, (and it is really busy!) to answer my questions. Head on over to her site to see more of what she’s up to .