We met Katie McGinnis of Trebird last December at one of Public Espresso’s pop up shops. We were so intrigued by her work, turning discarded skateboards into all different shapes and sizes of jewelry, that we wanted to know more. We finally got around to interviewing her and are really happy we did. Check out the conversation below and see her ridiculously cool and unique products here on etsy.
Ok so let’s talk about this name. Trebird. Tree-bird or tray-bird? Where does it come from?
I usually say Tray-bird. But when people say Tree-bird, I don’t mind! The name came from where Trebird was born (the corner of Tremont and Bird Ave.) BOOM – Trebird.
Do you skate yourself?
I do not, although I envy those ladies who can rock it out on a skateboard.
So walk me through how you went from a snapped board to saying, “Hey! I can make some earrings out of that!”
When I was in college I took a jewelry making class and absolutely fell in love with the art of making jewelry. After I graduated, I wanted to get back into it. I started making spoon rings and wire-wrapped jewelry but I was never completely happy with the results. My fiance, Kyle, came home from the skate park with a broken board and suggested I try making something out of it. My first piece was a pair of Linwood Hoop earrings. Pretty butchered too – but I was so excited to see the colors that showed through the more I sanded down that I kept practicing different techniques until I was completely satisfied with the result! I kept them mainly to test them out, but a friend of mine loved the way they looked so she wound up with them.
So… many… skateboard decks? Where on Earth do you get your supply?
I get most of my boards from local skaters in Buffalo! They’re awesome and are always willing to let me use them. I do offer an incentive too! For each board donated, you get a free piece of jewelry! Seems to work pretty well. Also, Phatman Boardshop donates boards too!
Where’s your base of operations? What kind of tools are you using to cut up the boards?
My base is in my basement. It’s where we started and seems to be my little dungeon. I work on a computer all day, so it’s really awesome to escape to my basement where I get to work with my hands. My main tools are my table-top drill press and my belt sander. Of course there are other tools I use too, but those are my best friends.
Are you adding color and design to the boards yourself before chopping them up? Or going au naturale, grind marks and all?
Every single piece is au-natural! The colors come from straight from the board itself because each different ply is a different color. The backs of the board make for a pretty awesome patina too and kinda tells the story of each skater and how they created each scratch and gouge.
Most of your jewelry is named after the streets and avenues of Buffalo? What’s your favorite street in the city? Best street to skate on?
We try to name every single piece after a street in Buffalo. It’s our way of showing our Buffalove and incorporate the aspect of local skaters. My favorite street in Buffalo would have to be Elmwood of course. It’s the heart of the city! Best one to skate on? I’m not sure if there is one. These guys can rip anywhere.
So your jewelry was once on the runway at Buffalo Fashion Week. That must have been a HUGE honor. How did you come to collaborate with Marc/Ella New York? Is there anyone else you’d love to work with, local or otherwise?
Buffalo Fashion Week was a surreal moment for me. I was still pretty new to making jewelry and I didn’t feel completely comfortable showcasing it just yet. A friend of mine approached me and mentioned Marc/Ella New York was looking for some jewelry to show with their line. I would absolutely LOVE to work with Wrafterbuilt to see if there’s possibilities to incorporate making some home-goods with skateboards!