Updated: Apr 14, 2022
I am regularly amazed by the people I meet as my American Faces series continues. Paige May #76 is another example of the kind of people I have had the privilege of meeting. Paige, the owner of Wilderness Effects, is an artisan and an avid outdoorsman who makes his home in Babbitt, a small town nestled deep in Minnesota’s Arrowhead Region. When I visited Paige in his little home in Babbitt I stepped across the threshold and into his story. Paige’s story is about a Nebraska born, young man who came to Minnesota following what you might refer to as, “The call of the wild.” He attended school in Ely, MN at Vermillion Community College, where he earned a degree in Outdoor Leadership. That degree was only the beginning for Paige. He is also an accomplished sea kayaker and guide, dog sled guide, as well as a renowned knife maker. Being a knife maker is the artisan side of Paige’s story that caught my attention.
Paige buys blades made by a good friend and fellow craftsman; Jamiah Mahoney at Subtle Forge and then crafts handles turning them into works of art. While he explores the Superior National Forest that is his home, Paige finds natural materials he can transform into knife handles. Even his dog sled ventures are opportunities to find moose antler sheds and then incorporate that material into his knife handles. It’s like magic to see what he can do with tools and sandpaper to create the handle for a knife from compressed birch bark and burled maple. His hands are so wonderfully gifted in coaxing beauty from what might seem like common materials, even in some cases, throw-away items from wilderness creatures.
When I look at what Paige does to create amazing knives I think about the stories of each of us. Our stories are not done yet. There’s more forming and changing in each of your lives yet to come. Each of you who read this are an amazing addition to humanity. Be open to change. Be open to adventure.