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MT woman using new-found woodcrafting skills to fight pandemic business losses

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Posted at 10:13 AM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 12:14:14-05

HELENA — COVID-19 has forced many businesspeople to adjust to new ways to find revenue. For Rainey Smith of Helena, the pandemic let her explore her creative side.

Smith’s online advertising consulting business was humming right along until the pandemic hit. When she discovered a laser engraver online and helped a friend build a table, Barbed Wire Woodcrafting was born.

She could make intricate, heartfelt engravings on beautiful wood.

“It will engrave down to the thickness of a piece of hair,” said Smith. “So you can take a recipe card from your grandmother who you haven’t seen in 20 years because she’s been gone and you can put it on a piece of wood and hang it in your kitchen and have it there forever.”

Rainey, who doesn’t have a woodworking background, started the business in November. The Christmas season proved surprisingly successful. “In the month before Christmas day, I think I did between 50 and 60 items,” said Smith.

Her portfolio includes cutting boards, wall hangings, dog leash holders and engraved knives. She even engraved a poem that she’ll send to British comedienne Miranda Hart who lost her dog recently and has been an inspiration to Rainey.

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The creative freedom allowed her to make a special wall hanging for some Star Wars loving friends celebrating an anniversary.

“I finally got to use my Star Wars font,” said Smith. “And it ended up really looking good. It was a piece of spalted maple with a little light live edge on top and it just really looked amazing.”

Rainey admits she’s not good at perfect squares and won’t take a cookie cutter approach in her projects, making each creation one of a kind.

“There’s holes, there’s knots, there’s grain,” said Smith. “Those imperfections are what make this stuff unique. When I go buy something from a small crafty business, I want something unique”

The Helena High School graduate who moved back to her native California after high school has been back in Big Sky Country for about five years. She’s overcome obstacles while picking up a new passion.

“It’s just been a lot more fun,” said Smith. “I’ve been doing online advertising for 20 years and to be honest this is creating things and it’s really been a great time.”

Rainey insists on buying her materials locally. She gets her wood from Helena Hardwoods, her tools and supplies from Power Townsend, and the knives she engraves from Capital Sports. Some of her dog leash holders are also for sale at Helena’s Wassweiler Dinner House and Pub.

She continues to do online consulting but hopes Barbed Wire Woodcrafting continues to grow. She has no plans to open a storefront but will continue to market the products online. She’s also hopeful to display and sell products at Farmers’ Markets when they open back up.

Click here to view more of her products or to order.

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