Monday, October 11, 2010


Lat week, The Hoffinator  and I headed to the hills for a 5 day workshop in making hollow wooden surfboards. Little did we know what an emotional roller coaster we were about to paddle into! Day one was awesome - unpacking our wood and assembling the inner skeletal frame. Day two was cool too, creating our individual designs and playing with the layout of the wood grains. A Paulownia tree had been ceremoniously felled before our arrival and each of the 13 participants had a slice or two to play with, along with strips of red cedar and western red cedar. Glassing the inside of the deck and bottom brought out all the gorgeous colours of the wood and we were riding the wave of stoke.
But then we had to become mistresses of power tools we'd only ever heard of like routers, belt sanders, angle grinders and glue guns. It was empowering to wield them around the workshop of our host Andrew Turner in the little dairy town of Comboyne under the instruction of Paul Jensen. But my enthusiasm got away with me and I nearly grinded the deck right off the board. Luckily Andrew's son Rye stopped me before it was too late. An accomplished woodworker who makes guitars for a living, Rye was making an impeccable 5'10" Fish. I opted for the 9' plank - less room for error - or so I thought.
By Day 5 I was in trouble. Having not had much experience with contact adhesive, there was a weakness emerging in my cork and plywood rails. The Hoffinator was in even deeper shit with no cork left to finish off her 5'5" fish. And being the perfectionist that she is, she wasn't going to use a patchwork of scraps like I had on my last of four layers of cork. We had become the outcasts. Set adrift on our intuition, we'd floundered. There was no choice but to leave. Everyone else was going the distance, pushing on into the unscheduled 6th day but we'd had enough of sawdust and rain and cold and concrete underfoot and most importantly - no surf! The only light at the end of the tunnel was the bath, the beer and the black market unpasteurised organic milk procured for our morning chai ritual. So we wrapped our unfinished boards up in layers of builders plastic and left star pupil Jane and co. behind.
But from power tools to couture, Comboyne delivered the goods. As we left we struck gold at a Katie Pye sale in the old Cheese Factory - a couple of choice outfits to help our re-entry into civilisation. And now we're stocking up on inspiration to complete the rail shaping and glassing back in Avalove. Watch this space.

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