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Reduction Rebel Interview: Recycled Skateboards

Trebird upcycled jewelry

Today’s Reduction Rebel in the spotlight is an upcycling artist who has cornered the market on cool. Her name is Katie  McGinnis and she recycles old skateboards into jewelry. You can find her upcycled jewelry for sale on her Etsy shop Trebird Buffalo where she sells beautifully handcrafted earrings and bangles.

As soon as I heard about her work I had to find out more. Her art has mass appeal, recycles something that would otherwise go to waste and is so interesting that Katie recently was asked to be a designer at the Mercedes-Benz of Buffalo Fashion Week.

Eve’s interview with Katie  McGinnis, upcycling artist and Etsy shop owner for recycled skateboard jewelry

1. What triggered your “ah-ha” moment where you first got the idea to turn old skateboards into jewelry?

I took a jewelry class back in my sophomore year of college and I absolutely loved it. A couple years passed and I didn’t really think much of it until a couple months after I graduated. I gathered up all of my supplies from my class and tried making spoon rings. Needless to say, that didn’t work out too well. I eventually started making wire-wrapped jewelry, but I was never completely pleased with the results. My boyfriend, came home from the skatepark one day and suggested I use parts of his skateboard to make some type of jewelry out of it. From there, the rest is history.

2. To sustain your business, have you identified a source where you can get your materials – broken skateboards?
I mostly get my skateboards from my boyfriend and his friends. If they run out, I’ll usually get them from a skate shop near where I live.

3. How many pieces of jewelry can you make from one skateboard?

Usually it depends on what type of piece I’m making. I’d say from one board, I can usually make about 10 pairs of hoops and then I’ll use the scraps to make studs and necklaces and such. (psst~she is so resourceful!)

4. What are your upcycling origins? 
My parents always taught me the basics, recycle, reuse, reduce. They’ve always been really handy and hard working. My dad even built a bar in their basement! My mom would always make all of my halloween costumes and decor around the house. My old roommate, Kate, also had a big part in reminding me to recycled and reuse. She grew up with that mindset and always pushed it onto me.
5. Taking waste and repurposing it into something useful is a key to sustainable living. Are there other areas of your life where you practice this?
One big thing that we do is make our own beer. We’ll buy beer and instead of taking the bottles back, we’ll try to keep them and in-turn make beer. We’ll make beer and give it away. Also, my boyfriend and I just recently bought a house in Buffalo, so we’re going to upcycle and reuse as much as we can when it comes to updating/decorating the house.
6. What’s next for Katie  McGinnis?
Woodworking is definitely something I would like to get into more and eventually start making furniture. For now, making jewelry out of skateboards has a lot to do with woodworking, but I’ve only really practiced the basics. I’d love to start selling at small local business’ in Buffalo and start doing some more art shows. Back in August, I had the opportunity to sell my jewelry at Buffalo’s Communify event at 464 gallery.

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for...

The upcycled skateboard jewelry eye candy

Just remember, to visit Trebird Buffalo to see all the styles available!

trebird jewelry


So, who just put Trebird on their holiday shopping list?

Eve of Reduction: Extra tips and wit on Facebook; Reduction Beauty on Pinterest ; The debut DIY lifestyle book (includes 10 upcycling tutorials); and the guide to creative streams of income ebook (only $2.99).

I’m Cristin Frank (AKA Eve). I love all things frugal and crafty. My mindset is always on upcycling, repurposing, reducing waste and saving money – and Eve of Reduction is my roadmap. You might also want to check out my book, "Living Simple, Free & Happy."

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3 Responses to Reduction Rebel Interview: Recycled Skateboards

  1. Carol Grund October 31, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Lovely jewelry. How clever!

  2. Ann@Australian Boutiques November 3, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    I never thought that used skateboards can turn into something this beautiful.

  3. Aaron Taylor November 13, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    If I were a skateboard, I’m quite certain this is how I’d want to spend my final days. I hope more people start doing creative and resourceful things like this!

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