As an artist with a passion for sustainability, I have found a unique way to merge my creativity with environmental consciousness. At the Carolyn Johnson Gallery, I transform discarded surfboards destined for landfills into one-of-a-kind, textural artworks. However, before I can unleash my artistic vision onto these boards, there is an extensive 7-step process involved in preparing them.

The Hunt for the Perfect Board

It all begins with the thrill of the hunt - scouring surf shops, swaps, and beaches to source the ideal discarded surfboards. I seek out boards of various shapes, sizes, and tail and nose designs because their unique characteristics add unparalleled charm to each final piece. While it would be easier to purchase new, uniform blanks, there's something special about breathing new life into well-loved boards with stories to tell.

Transforming Retired Surfboards into Creative Pieces of Art

Step 1: Removing Fins

With my recycled mediums secured, the real work begins by removing any protruding fins. Since the majority of my surfboard art hangs vertically, those fins would hinder the display. Depending on the board, this step involves either unscrewing or sawing them off completely to create a smooth, hangable surface. Removing these elements also makes the remaining cleanup process easier.

Step 2: Patching Imperfections

Every discarded surfboard bears its own unique scars - gouges, holes, cracks and other wear from years of ocean adventures. I see these character markings as features, not flaws, but still need to stabilize the surface. Minor imperfections can be filled using wood filler, while larger areas require a heavy-duty auto body filler like Bondo. Once applied, the fillers need several hours to fully cure before sanding can begin.

Step 3: Stripping Away Traction

In their former lives, textured traction pads and layers of sticky surf wax helped riders stay firmly planted on their boards. As an artist, these elements need to be stripped away completely to reveal a virgin slate. The foam traction pads are easily removed, but the wax is another beast entirely...

Step 4: The Wax Removal Workout

Since wax is not water-soluble, simply scraping away the built-up layers isn't enough. I employ a solvent treatment using good ol' rubbing alcohol to first break down and dissolve those stubborn wax remnants. This step requires some serious elbow grease and patience as I scrape and scrub repeatedly until the entire surface is finally wax-free. It's an arm workout for sure, but so satisfying once the raw, blank medium emerges!

Step 5: Sanding to Perfection

With any remaining fillers, wax residue and imperfections removed, I can finally put my passion for power tools to use. I employ a combination of circular and vibrating sanders, gradually working my way from an initial coarse 40 grit up to an ultra-fine 320 grit. The higher the grit level, the smoother and more uniform the final surface becomes - ideal for displaying brushwork, colors and textures.

Step 6: Appreciating the Transformation

After so many labor-intensive steps, it's at this point I pause to appreciate the full transformation of what was once trash into a unique artistic treasure. I feel gratified knowing that this well-traveled surfboard has been diverted from the landfill and given a rebirth.

Step 7: The Priming Blanket

With the board's blank medium prepared to perfection, I apply the first layer - a priming coat of paint to the top deck surface. The bottom remains raw for now since additional sandings are required to remove any hardened paint drips between the artwork layers. Once primed, I can let my imagination run wild and truly begin the artistic process!

The Eco-Friendly Art Experience

I invite you to visit the Carolyn Johnson Gallery and appreciate these incredible transformations. You'll find vibrant, textural masterpieces created on substrates that were once discarded surfboards at the end of their ocean lives. Appreciating the full journey from surf to transcendent art is all part of the unique, eco-friendly experience.

Stop by the gallery or explore my online collection to see available surfboard artworks and learn more about my sustainable process giving new purpose to this beloved coastal sporting equipment. Commissions are also available for customized surfboard art featuring your own designs and inspiration. Let's collaborate to create a meaningful, one-of-a-kind piece that extends the life of an otherwise landfill-bound surfboard.

My 7-step process is lengthy and laborious, but the reward of rejuvenating discarded treasures into vibrant, lasting artworks makes every minute worthwhile. I'm able to pursue my passion for creativity while making a positive environmental impact - and to me, that's as satisfying as catching the perfect wave.