I met Kate Marshall at her workshop, her two rescue dogs, Bubba and Tango bounding about as she walked toward me. She seemed surprised that I had found the place, and I had to confess that I did …
I met Kate Marshall at her workshop, her two rescue dogs, Bubba and Tango bounding about as she walked toward me. She seemed surprised that I had found the place, and I had to confess that I did drive past several times. The base of Marshall’s new business, Dog and Wine Designs, is tucked away off of Highway 20 in the Four Corners region of Jefferson County, up a narrow dirt road.
Dressed in safety glasses, worn-in Carhartt overalls, and felted navy scuffs that spelled “l-o” on foot of one and “v-e” on the other, Marshall led the way inside to where her mentor and friend of 12 years, Gary McLuen, has let her set up shop.
McLuen is an engineer, Marshall explained, and hardly uses the woodshop for himself. The two met when Marshall was working on her post-doctorate at a lab in Sequim: he had brought a slew of kids in to tour the lab; now, the two spend time together every week at the shop.
Marshall and her fiancée of 18 years (“I don’t think we’re ever going to get married,” she said, laughing) live in Port Hadlock, and a few times a week Marshall commutes to Tacoma, where she works for the Department of Defense as an independent contractor for the Hearing Center of Excellence on the Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The clinical trials she was conducting were halted or discontinued altogether by COVID, and with a little extra time on her hands, Marshall found herself in the woodshop time and again.
While she completed her first project, a dinner table for her house, around 8 years ago, she started her business last year. Combining two of her best loves, dogs, and drinking wine, she honed in on her essentials for happiness when coming up with a business name and logo.
“Wood has not always been my medium,” Marshall said, sitting across a work desk from me with Tango nested in her lap. Shoulder-length strawberry blonde hair framed her face. She said as a teen, theatre and performance arts had interested her. Then came adulthood and a long dry spell from artistic endeavors.
Now, Marshall has fallen for wood. “Originally it started out, ‘I need a coffee table,’’ she said. But for her, the draw extends past the utilitarian.
“I like wood, how could you not,” she said, explaining how she loves to let the simple beauty of the wood’s grain be the showstopper centerpiece of her work.
A stack of unwaxed end-cut cutting boards made with cherry and walnut woods sat on the desk to my left, destined for Uptown Cutlery in Port Townsend. She spoke joyfully of three pieces of furniture she’ll be giving back to the community through upcoming charity auctions or to non-profits. Marshall has been the chair of the board of Port Townsend’s Domestic Violence Shelter, Dove House, for three years. Community causes are close to her heart.
She and McLuen source much of their wood locally, use a powder coating business in Port Hadlock to paint metal items, like table legs, and use wood harvested directly from McLuen’s 22-acre property too.
As we walked around the studio, Marshall pointed out ebony, walnut, cherry, madrone, and maple among other hardwoods she works with.
She hefted a piece in the works, a rectangular tray made of two maple cuts that looked like river banks with a clear resin river flowing through. Wine corks bobbed at the bottom.
Then she pulled out a set of coasters she’d made scaling down the process and adding some gold shimmer. They were a Christmas present for her mother. Often, her projects start out as gifts, she said.
Two maple nightstands stood together, waiting for finishing and legs. A request for a scotch board was on the to-do list, and after finding some photos of a beverage dispenser online, Marshall had an idea mulling about for a prototype.
The dogs ran in and out of the shop, a constant pop of energy. When Bubba started yipping uncontrollably, she got up and redirected his attention.
‘He’s a rescue,” she said. “He came with some baggage.”
While projects of all kinds inspire Marshall, she’s honed in: “I’d like to focus on furniture,” she said.
Creating custom, heirloom-quality goods makes sense to her.
She showed me a photo of her first piece, the table, with wooden butterflies drawing the cracks in the wood together.
The dogs climb on it, it’s gotten banged and bumped, moved to another home, but it’s solid, dependable, and made by hand.
Marshall is humble about her abilities.
“I just kind of putz,” she said.
To see examples of Marshall’s work and inquire about custom orders, go to dogandwinedesigns.com.