At a time when it seems like technology is everywhere, a Brunswick-based company called Docksmith has found a way to let nature back in.

The company makes docking stations for recharging smart phones and tablets out of birch wood from Maine forests and driftwood collected on Maine beaches. The stations walk the line between art and practicality, which is apparently appealing to the nature-starved among us since the docking stations have been sold in 20 countries. Last year, Docksmith took home the Best New Product Award at the New England Made show in Portland.

Katie Francis came up with the idea when she was living in Boston, and she asked her husband Chris, a carpenter, to execute it.

“The first one we made was a Christmas gift for my aunt,” she said.

The couple had a busy life at the time but had a hunch about the docking station idea. Why don’t you start making them, they suggested to Katie Francis’ brother Lee Goodwin, who was living in New York. The pieces started selling well at craft shows, and before you know it they were all moving back to Maine to launch a business. (All four partners in Docksmith have ties to Maine. Katie Francis and her brother grew up in Harpswell. Chris Francis grew up in Georgetown. The fourth partner, Olivia Turrell, summered here when she was growing up.)

Chris Francis and Lee Goodwin collect the birch from friends’ land, cutting it in the spring and drying it for six months. They comb midcoast beaches for the driftwood. Most of the wood remains just as it was found, but when Francis and Goodwin stumble upon a piece with an unusual shape, they ask Georgetown artist Ethan Russell to burn a design into it – a whale, for example, or a fiddler crab.

The docking stations were recently redesigned so the cable attached to the wood is removable. If customers break the cable, or want to upgrade to a phone that requires a different kind of cable, they can easily replace it themselves.

The stations start at $82, but special pieces – including those etched by Russell – cost as much as $160. The company sells them online at and through Etsy. On April 16, when Etsy Inc. went public, it invited just 14 of the 1.4 million sellers on Etsy to the bell ringing at the New York stock exchange. Docksmith was one of the invitees. Katie Francis found herself standing on the podium, next to Chad Dickerson, the CEO of Etsy, holding one of 36 bells gathered from other Etsy sellers. Everyone rang their bells together, and that day’s opening of the exchange was broadcast live in Times Square.

“Mine just happened to have a lobster on it,” Francis said. “It was perfect.”