"FOR THE LOVE OF SURFBOARDS"
BY Bud Gardner
For the Love of Surfboards, over 50 years creating in foam, wood, fiberglass, and resin. I've owned thousands of surfboards, but never bought any of them. I've made them all except one. That was my first surfboard and I got it when I was a junior in high school back in 1964.
While in wood shop class, I made a miniature surfboard 3' long. It was made out of Walnut and Ash complete with 3 stringers, tail block, and a laminated checkerboard skeg. I made a clock out of it. The local surf shop owner, Norman Ritchie of West Coast East Surf Shop, liked it so much that he swapped me a brand new custom surfboard for it.
While watching Dick Catri and Gene Eschenbrenner, two of the hot shapers of the area, shaping Walker Foam surfboard blanks into West Coast East surfboards, I realized that I was really stoked seeing surfboards being created before my eyes. I wanted to be able to do that too!
Gene was a great and talented guy and taught me a lot. He would make up names for the building process and I would write them down so I wouldn't forget. Dick, who had recently come from Hawaii knew all of the current ways that the surfboards were being built in the Islands. Slowly, I too, learned how to do all the different phases of surfboard construction. About a year after high school, I started my own surfboard shop and have been officially building Bud Gardner Surfboards since May 6, 1966.
Bud Gardner 60's
At first, like many other surfboard builders before me, I built the whole surfboard myself, but as custom orders started to stack up, I had to have help so I taught and trained guys how to fiberglass, sand, and finish surfboards like the way I was taught, passing the building process along.
I have personally shaped and colored every Bud Gardner Surfboard ever made and I had a lot of talented craftsmen help me build them for more than 40 years, guys like Joel "Red" Raff, Fred Grosskreutz, Dave "Davo" Dedrick, and Ed "ET" Townes, some of the best fiberglass laminators in the industry, Larry Pope of LP Glass, perhaps the best surfboard sander in the world, Joe "J.R." Roberts, one of the best surfboard polishers that ever buffed a board, to name a few.
To stay in the surfboard industry for more than 4 decades, one has to adapt and diversify. Although I now specialize in building the fanciest longboards which usually wind up hanging on the wall as art, through the years, I've built every shape and size that the custom customer could imagine. I am currently taking custom orders for a limited, very classic special board with every option available.
It's hard to beat my impressively equipped, "Bitchin' Edition" model. This special five stringer surfboard has four ¼" side stringers and a 2" Balsawood center stringer with matching nose and tail blocks, fiberglass tips and a wood removable fin. I do all the construction on the "Bitchin' Edition" models just so I can give each one that little extra TLC and personal attention.
It's just about impossible to get a Clark Foam blank with this stringer combination today so replacement of the blank is not an option. I still have a nice supply of Clark Foam blanks, sizes from 9' 3" to 10' 3", but only 5 of them have the "Bitchin' Edition" stringers. These are the last of the fabulous Clark Foam blanks made before they went out of business. When they are gone, they are gone forever.
Over the years I've spun off other products that are surfboard oriented, 2' scaled and detailed miniature surfboards, surfboard clocks, 5' scaled and detailed longboard tables and even turned hatch covers off of old World War II Liberty ships into nautical resin coated tables. My proudest spin off are my paintings, my resin on fiberglass art. When I started building surfboards back in 1966, the surfboard industry had only one way of applying color and that was by brushing colored resin on the sanded fiberglass surface of the surfboard.
To do this, one had to know how to have control over the hardening of the resin. After the catalyst (hardener) is added to the colored resin, there is only a few minutes time before the liquid resin hardens completely. If the right amount of catalyst is not added and mixed properly, the colored resin will not harden. After the design was painted on the surfboard, the board was then coated with clear gloss resin and polished.
The surfboard industry no longer paints its designs with colored resin. Surfboards are now sprayed with latex paint on the finished shaped blank under the fiberglass. Painting with colored resin is now practically a lost art. I mastered this lost art media and first started making resin on fiberglass paintings in 1972. I start with my own designed "fiberglass canvas". They have beveled edges, rounded corners and are 1 ½" thick. To paint the art on them, I apply the same techniques I learned when painting surfboards with colored resin. I use both opaque and transparent tint pigments mixed with polyester resin.
After all the art is applied, my paintings are then glossed with clear resin and polished. My paintings have a look and feel that is unique and all their own. Some of my paintings have been on display at the Melbourne Beach, Florida public library since the first day it opened. To see my paintings, go to Google.com and then type in Bud Gardner Surfboards.
The site shows not only my surfboards and paintings, but many of my other beautiful items that I create in my "Green Room Art Studio", where everything created is made out of foam, wood, fiberglass and resin. My latest resin on fiberglass paintings are the bar tops in the Longdoggers Restaurants in the Melbourne area and the newest one in Daytona Beach. Each section of the 35' bar has detailed renditions of my surfboards painted in colored resin, glossed and polished.
I really get stoked when I make my fancy classic longboards. It is my passion and my tradition. Making surfboards with all the bells and whistles is a challenge to my creativity and eliminates the boring part of this my filthy, hazardous to my health career. The harder and fancier the custom customer wants it made, the better I like it and the less it's like work to me. That must have been the attitude of the original surfboard craftsman, the ones that came before me because those guys sure produced a lot of beautiful longboards that are the classic collectibles of today.
Bud Gardner's motto is "To Ride Great, To Look Bitchin' and to be Treasured for a Long Time".