We all feel good about recycling.

That’s why Katie Thompson never felt great about the wood shavings discarded in the shop where she and her hubby run Joseph Thompson Woodworks. The company, which consists of just the two of them in Eutawville, S.C., designs custom pieces ranging from heirloom dining room tables to chairs.

So, there are lots of shavings.

The forgotten curls–reminiscent of the blonde ones on Thompson’s head–went unused for years until Katie recently started Black Swamp Company, a jewelry line.

“I like jewelry. It seems to be a good medium for me, because the possibilities are endless.”

She continues, “This method allows me to look at wood in a different way and to manipulate it into different styles and designs that aren’t normally possible with solid wood.”

Along with the shavings of black walnut, white oak, ambrosia maple, and Wenge, Katie also works in copper and brass wire into her necklaces and earrings.

She was first known around Charleston as a freelance writer who covered fashion. So, after her switch to working as a woodworker in a shop in rural South Carolina, a jewelry line made sense. It was a way to combine her love of the handmade and the beautiful.

“It’s kind of how my life is: I like to get dressed up and go out and be a girl, but day to day, in my job, I wear work boots and jeans and don’t wear make up for days. It’s a nice way to merge the two.”

Her father was also a woodworker and Katie feels Black Swamp Company is a way to honor her home while also presenting her take on southern fashion.

Katie grew up eating at a table her father made in college, and now she has it at her house.

Shortly after they met, Joseph, her husband, said, “If you ever want me to build anything for you…”

And Katie said, “Well, actually,” and then whipped out her sketchbook and hasn’t looked back.

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Story by: Elizabeth Bowers
Photos by: Adam Chandler

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