CARL EKSTROM SHAPER / DESIGNER / GLASSER
By Thomas Takao
Surfing was still growing and there were a group of guys in La Jolla who were into board building during the 1950’s. To get their balsa, some would drive up to General Veneer and buy their wood. Other times General Veneer would bring the balsa to them at the WindanSea parking lot.
Either way the guys would put their money together and buy a full bundle of wood. Of course they would argue over the best wood after the delivery. Reason being there were really light boards and really heavy boards that came out from same bundle.
Carl Ekstrom was one of these guys who would chip in. His good friend Al Nelson was another. Al’s early beginnings in shaping started in any garage in La Jolla. He would go into a garage and start shaping his board. The homeowner would come home and say what the hell are you doing in here. Al’s remark would be Ed told us we could shape a couple of surfboards here.
The owner said who is Ed and Al would say the guy who lives in the house. The owner replied that person doesn’t live here and my name isn’t Ed. Then Al would go up the alley to the next garage, finally he had worked his way up the street by La Jolla Blvd. and found 3 garages with dirt floors.
He started shaping in one of those garages and no one kicked him out, they were kinda semi abandoned. Al made friends with the guy in one of the front houses and used an extension cord from the house for electricity. After Al was in the garage for a few weeks, Carl would use the garage next to the one Al was using and started glassing boards there.
Carl had been doing some work at Danny Mack’s house before starting his first glassing shop in the garage next to Al. Pat Curran was shaping at Danny Mack’s house, which was across the boulevard at the end of Bonair Way. The guys working at Danny Mack would go to Tijuana on Sundays for the bullfights sometimes leaving on Saturday for two days.
The guys would tell Carl that they had to get there early to get good seats. Some years later, Carl found out that the bullfights meant the Long Bar. Getting back to Danny Mack’s shop Carl learned to shape from the guys at the shop. His first board turned out alright but his second board was not so good, the year was 1957.
After Danny Mack’s and the garage, Carl started working at AJ Surfboards where George Lanning was working part time and also going to High School. Carl would move up to Hermosa Beach after graduating from High School in 1960. Briefly working at Jacobs surfboards where Hap Jacobs, Larry Felker, and Kenny Tilton were shaping. At the Jacob’s shop, he was introduced to the side shaping lights.
This was the first time he had seen it and it sure made the contour of rails more distinct. A few months later Dick Mobley got Carl to work at Bing Surfboards. From there Carl would shaped at Wardy’s in Laguna Beach, Del Cannon got Carl the job there.
After that it was to Ole’s in Seal Beach. Being a wandering shaper and viewing different techniques, the experience broaden Carl’s outlook on shaping. But it was at Con Surfboard that Carl really got good at shaping. After that in 1963 Carl would open a new shop with Al Nelson in Pacific Beach. It was in 1965 at his Pacific Beach shop that Carl developed the asymmetrical surfboard concept.
Carl would continue making surfboards and glass some of his friends boards in the 70's, 80's, 90's and occasionally a Pat Curren. Pat Curren is one of his best friends and a steady customer through the years. Besides surfboards there have been opportunities in designing varies products. Carl grew up in the old school of surfboard building and pioneered the asymmetrical design in surfboard outlines. He has continued on being a Designer of provocative concepts.