Author: Hannah Gordon
While southern tier citizens dug themselves out of the snow, Katie McGinnis used the weather as an excuse to make jewelry.
McGinnis, 24, owns Trebird, an artisan jewelry business that handcrafts accessories from used skateboards. That’s right—skateboards.
Everything about Trebird traces back to its Buffalo roots. McGinnis names each design after a street in Buffalo and all of the boards used are from skaters in Buffalo. Even the name is discreetly Buffalo-esque. It comes from the place where the business was originated—at Tremont Street and Bird Avenue. McGinnis lived there at the time with her boyfriend, Kyle Toth.
While attending Buffalo State College, McGinnis said she took a jewelry making class and fell in love with the art of making jewelry.
“After I graduated, I wanted to get back into it,” McGinnis said. “I started making spoon rings and wire-wrapped jewelry but I was never completely happy with the results.”
Her boyfriend came home from the skate park with a broken board and suggested McGinnis should try to make something out of it.
“My first piece was a pair of Linwood Hoop earrings, pretty butchered too,” said McGinnis. “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.”
None of the jewelry is painted. All of the colors in the jewelry naturally show through from the board. She uses boards with vibrant colors and graphics. Even if the graphics are worn off, the designs are still unique, said McGinnis. She then cuts the shape out of the board, sands the shape for the colors to show through and finish with a clear coat and hardware.
“Every single color you see comes from the board itself,” McGinnis said. “Which is my favorite part – you never really know what you’re going to get until you sand through to see the boards different colored plies.”
Currently Trebird pieces are available at Phatman Boardshop at 2889 Sheridan Dr., Tonawanda, and Paperish Mess at 1955 West Chicago Ave., Chicago, Illinois. You can also purchase Trebird jewelry at the Etsy shop. Trebird’s holiday special starts Dec. 1; customers get a free pair of Allen Street Studs with the purchase of any two Trebird pieces.
Trebird will be participating in the 4th Annual Queen City market on Dec. 13 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Karpeles Manuscript Library at 453 Porter Ave.
Artist photo/s: Kyle Toth