She Slangs Wood: Milwaukee woman's pandemic project turns into life-altering passion

She Slangs Wood: Milwaukee woman’s pandemic project turns into life-altering passion

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- With not only head and heart, but also hands a Milwaukee woman is discovering inner peace.

When the pandemic took hold, Tonda Thompson was like many in our area, searching for something new to help pass the time. She took on an unexpected new hobby that has since grown into something much more.

On CBS 58 Sunday Morning, Kim Shine showed how Thompson’s newfound love of building things is bringing her closer to her community.

Inside her garage, Tonda Thompson is finding renewed purpose.

For the moment, she’s turned it into a workspace filled with tools and most importantly – wood.

Every measurement counts.

“We’re gonna make this 33x33," she said while gathering pieces to build a table.

Tonda’s three-year-old son inspired her new hobby while watching cartoons.

Mimicking one of the characters, he climbed onto her glass table – not a good idea but it did spark a suggestion from a friend.

She inspired me to look up building coffee tables online because I didn't want to have just an empty space in my living room. It's pretty weird that way," she said.

Tonda has some woodworking and technical experience, but has never taken it this far.

She gets tips and tricks online and from watching YouTube videos.

She put her work on her Facebook page called, She Slangs Wood”, and now others are buying her pieces.

“I probably got about 10 requests after that one Facebook post within a week of building coffee tables,” she said. 

She showed CBS 58 a folding table/bench she built.

“This is made out of cedar, pressure-treated, cedar wood,” she explained. “You know you can sit and enjoy it. And then when you’re ready to have a nice, little party. Boom!"

It's now her signature creation.

Though she laughs often, Tonda’s hobby came at just the right time.

After losing her first son in 2013, she became an advocate for infant mortality awareness in Milwaukee. She also helped create the HaRUNbee 5K walk/run and vied for 5th district alderman in 2018.

But this year, Tonda decided it was time to rest.

“When COVID-19 hit I was put in the place where I was forced to stay at home. And turning to woodwork, was my desire of healing from all the stuff that I've done, and all the work that I've done in the community, but it turned into an actual business, and now I’m the “Wood Whisperer” now,” she laughed.

She’s now inspiring other women to build and to be creative.

The 32 year old said her inbox is filled with messages asking her to teach.

“I think it’s incredible," she said.

Tonda’s grateful for the support.

But above all else, her message is to be fearless and to take time for yourself.

She did, and has now carved out a brand new path.

“I appreciate everybody placing orders but this is something I love to do when it's special to me, like I said, every piece has my love and joy placed into it.”

To find about more about Tonda and her woodworking, click here to visit her Facebook page.

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