Carving Out a New Career
Wood artisan brings the soothing power of the outdoors into homes
By Dianna Troyer
Whatever wooden decor she creates, Jayme Knight hopes each piece infuses homes with the solace, scents and sounds of the outdoors.
“I am a huge outdoor and nature lover, especially the ocean, coastlines, mountains and desert,” says the Wells artisan, who works in her home studio.
After sawing and sanding longboards, balance boards and other wall hangings, she paints or burns in waves, scenery, wildlife and
inspirational sayings on them.
Jayme’s pieces sell nationwide at Wildland Living on Etsy with 5-star ratings and more than 1,600 admirers.
“I’m a huge believer that our living space can have a huge impact on our well-being and mindset,” she says. “If I can help someone feel happy in their space, then that makes me happy.”
To do that, she says she strives “to bring the outdoors in. That’s what I’m thinking when I design and make a piece—creating the feeling of rock climbing or that ocean wave calm. My pieces are little bits of the outdoors. I’m addicted to fly fishing so am making pieces that remind me of the feeling of being on the lake.”
Jayme says inspiration comes from the places she has lived and activities she loves: fly fishing, surfing, rock climbing and longboarding.
“Beach and surf culture has been a huge part of who I am. It’s a way of living.”
Born in Fort Myers, Florida, Jayme grew up in southern Florida and later lived along the coasts of Massachusetts and Ireland.
After moving to Wells in October 2017 when her partner, Mike Sellers, accepted a new job, she added deserts and alpine lakes to her list of cherished places to explore and linger. Mike was hired as an engine captain at the Wells Bureau of Land Management fire station.
“We fell in love with the East Humboldts and Rubies and are grateful to live in a quiet town like Wells,” she says.
Shortly after moving to town, Jayme began exploring options to work from home while caring for their five boys, ranging in age at the time from 3 to 16.
“I’ve always been creative, so I first thought of designing new art for a longboard that I had,” she says. “Then I started making surf style balance boards as a way to train for better balance for longboarding.”
She converted part of their home into a studio to paint and do wood-burning and rented space in a former car dealership to do woodworking. A source in Salt Lake City provides Baltic birch, an ideal wood for surf, snow and balance boards because it is durable and flexible.
“It’s super strong without having to be super thick and has good give,” she says. “It can take more than 250 pounds without snapping, which is critical for balance boards.”
Satisfied with her creations in late 2019, Jayme began posting them on Etsy.
“My goal was to offer affordable products,” she says. “I love customizing pieces and adding personal touches, too.”
Sales soared during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think people were looking for a way to be entertained and to have something to do inside; balance boards were a great option for fitness and fun.”
Never Too Late
A self-taught artist who encourages others, Jayme says “creating with my hands” has been a way of life.
“Based on my experiences and what I’ve learned by age 41, I tell my kids, ‘You can do anything and become great at anything if you practice,” Jayme says. “The more you do something, the better you get. We learn from mistakes and trial and error.’ ”
Taking her own advice, she recently began doing pyrography, using a wood-burning tool to etch patterns on wood, creating a tooled-leather look.
“I love the challenge—the smell of the lumber mixed with the smoke from the burn.”
Jayme reminds anyone with a someday-I’d-like-to-do-that wish list “it’s never too late to try something new—something you have always wanted to do. Before this, I started and ran an American- style bakery for eight years in Ireland. If you put in the work and time, you can make it happen. I’m proof of that. All you need is a passion and drive!”
Jayme has a someday list, too.
“We’re considering fixing up our 1956 Aloha camper as a mobile retail space, if we can get some extra time,” she says. “I’d rather be outside, but when I have to be inside, it’s great to have pieces of the outdoors around me.”
Watch Jayme demonstrate pyrography on her Wildland Living Facebook page.