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Designing With Old Decks

5 Questions With... Katie McGinnis, owner and operator of Trebird, a brand that makes jewelry out of recycled skateboard parts.

Artvoice: Tell me about Trebird.

Katie McGinnis: Trebird is a jewelry company. I take old or broken skateboards and I cut them up and turn them into necklaces, dangles, earrings, or hoops, really anything I can. I took a jewelry class in college. We started off with wire wrapping jewelry, but I was never happy with the results so I just kept practicing with different mediums. My boyfriend came home one day and said “Hey why don’t you make something out of my skateboard,” and it started from there.

AV: What does Trebird mean?

KM: It’s where the whole idea started. I was living on Tremont and Bird at the time. All of the pieces of jewelry are named after streets in Buffalo.

AV: Where do you get the skateboards?

KM: They’re all donated by skaters from Buffalo and I’ve gotten a couple skateboards from Phatman’s on Sheridan Drive.

AV: What is it like to work with skateboard wood?

KM: It’s really fun actually. A lot of people don’t realize that skateboards are made of colored plys throughout the board, so that’s where all of the pieces get their colors from: straight from the boards. They’re never painted. Basically whatever shows up while I’m deconstructing the board is what the piece turns into.

AV: Tell me about the process of creating a piece of jewelry.

KM: It’s a lot of woodworking. I cut circles out of the board. Then I cut it into the shape I want it to be. Then I just sand it down into a smooth finish, slap on some nice hardware and that’s about it.

AV: Where did you learn to woodwork?

KM: I kind of taught myself. I had never worked with wood before, I mostly worked with metal in college. For the most part it’s all been learning by chance and experimenting with new tools and figuring out what I could work with on my own. I get a little nervous working with these big tools sometimes but I like the challenge.

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