Surf and Turf: Custom Surfboards and Furniture by MakerUSA
In any custom project, the customer and the artisan bring their diverse expectations and experiences to bear as they share and refine a vision for their creation. The collaborative nature of custom work, that intersection of perspectives and skills, is particularly apparent when a team of makers is involved in the process.
The sport of surfing, moving where sea, land, and sky meet, is also a showcase for the creativity that can spring from the melding of worlds.
MakerUSA is a collective that specializes in creating hand-made, hollow core custom surfboards, as well as skateboards and snowboards. Founder Ric Allison has a background in environmental design, fine furniture making, and inlay but he doesn’t surf. No matter. He has assembled nearly twenty craftsmen, designers, and artisans with varied talents and backgrounds, including legendary board shapers John Cherry, Mickey Muñoz, and Terry Martin, who all share a reverence for the handmade, a desire to work in a sustainable, eco-friendly manner, and a focus on the idea as much as the final product. “Maker is about the crossover between high art and street art – that is where the inspiration lies,” explains Ric. Whether you’re looking for a custom board or custom furniture, MakerUSA will create art you can ride, whether literally on an ocean wave or figuratively on inspiration.
In an article by Stephen O’Toole for Shop Talk, Ric described his approach to creating surfboards:
Allison said his goal in crafting boards is to give the ride a “soul-satisfying” experience along with a work of art. Hollow-body surfboards in particular provide that experience … because the smoothness on the wave is matched by the vibrating tone created inside the board. “To me, a surfboard is the ultimate thing to make.”
You can have MakerUSA create a custom surfboard for you, like this 9’6” pintail noserider, made with a laser-cut Baltic birch plywood skeleton and a solid wood bent-lamination rail. This exclusive design “allows us to build a lighter wood-core board without compromising the rail and foil shaping, resulting in a custom performance ride.” You can choose veneers made from reclaimed and sustainably harvested woods, including Spanish cedars, Port Orford cedars, Sitka spruce, box elder burl, imbuya, pommele madrone, and fiddleback makore, and custom inlays by Ric based on designs by artist Imogen Anderson.
Do you have a different vision of wave riding in mind that you’d like to bring to life in a custom furniture project? Check out this cherry, bronze, and glass sculling table, perfect for a dining room or anywhere you’d like a piece with a nautical theme.
Live edge design allows you to see the natural shape of the tree that provided the wood for your furniture and celebrates beauty in shapes that may not square (literally) with popular notions of order and perfection. Take a look at this Gale Wane edge table by MakerUSA.
Imagine the surface of the tree, it’s face, as a wave, the intersection where the tree met the world around it, and the interior grain as an untold story hidden from view while the tree was alive. Rather than erasing those unique contours, Ric incorporated them into the design. After all, finding just the right piece of wood can be quite an experience, as Ric discusses in his blog post on a visit to Hearne Hardwoods:
I have been involved with furniture and wood for the last 25 years, first as a hobby, a profession and later as a passion for art and design. While painters use color and media for their art, furniture designers use wood as a palette for the color, figure, and form (and sometimes weight and feel). Coming by the “right choice” of an ‘image’ in the wood to use for the back of the mirror, the shape of a free form table, the color and texture for a chair, the clearness and fineness for bent laminations is no easy task.
Ric can bring the story of the tree, your inspiration, and his vision together in a one-of-a-kind project. Whether your custom adventures are waterborne, landlocked, or something in between, contact Ric and the MakerUSA collective and discuss your design ideas.