Resin takes new shape in one local glasser’s hands
In surfing lexicon, the phrase “give a wave” is used on a rare occasion by nostalgic and well-intentioned old-timers who have reached a point of Zen-like surf satisfaction in their lives. Cynics may scoff: that just translates into “give me a wave.” But the more enlightened among us recognize the karmic value in letting the odd peak slide under their longboard to a stoked grom on the inside with an encouraging “Go!”
And while the act of giving a wave is ephemeral, one local surfboard glasser has found a unique way of making a more lasting statement.
Santa Cruz’s Vince Broglio has been laminating surfboards since the ’80s, having worked for both Bob Pearson and Doug Haut before going into business for himself in 1991. Broglio Glassworks is a thriving operation serving Northern Californian shapers, as quality craftsmanship remains in-demand even through the current economic tsunami. Yet, like many others in the surf industry, one hurdle Broglio didn’t anticipate was Gordon “Grubby” Clark pulling the plug on mass surfboard blank production in late 2005. Once his backlog of the shaped foam cores was glassed up, Broglio found that Glassworks faced its first real lull as shapers scrambled to find quality blanks and reroute their supply lines.
At the time, Broglio’s clients noticed that the multi-colored resin in his drip pans “looked like art.” A cartoonish light bulb went off inside his head: Why not cut out and transform pieces into permanently standing waves? His vision, combined with his years spent closely studying waves (from inside and out), transformed the resin waste into translucent works of art. It’s really a cliché, he says, but the hardened resin really “talks to him.”
These days, after chunks of resin are cut out from the long drip trays that collect excess resin below the board stands, he stores them at his ranch and waits for the shapes to reveal themselves. Then he liberates them after several hours of inspired effort with his 5,000 r.p.m grinder, sandblasters and Dremel drills, and hand-sands the tight curves.
Broglio says that while he’s working in “the same medium as glassing boards, the experience is completely different, way more creative and imaginative.” Thriving with this new creative outlet, he acknowledges that “glassing boards is repetitive, but with grinding out unique resin waves you can go as far as your imagination will take you.”
In tapping this source of inspiration, Broglio has been lauded by such surf art luminaries as Kevin Ancell, who said frankly that he should tell his shapers to go “get a new glasser” and just pursue the art.
In a way, Broglio’s art captures nature’s purity in kaleidoscopic colors, be it a slice of a shorebreak or a segment of a Teahupo’o-like slab. They are pieces of wonder that betray the fact that Broglio is actually, ironically, color blind; upright backwashes spray their blue-green geysers skyward, and impossibly vertical A-frames cause one to mind-surf—just wondering for a moment if that one’s makeable. The crisp blue of a sunrise, calm turquoise hue of a protected cove, iridescent shimmer of a wet kelp leaf—all are amplified with renewed electricity in Broglio’s recycled waves.
Is that not the essence of good art, to draw you into that picture, landscape, scene or sculpture—and involve you, if only for a moment? Surfers spend hours, days and years doing just that with the kinesthetic version, and even non-surfers can appreciate the message of the fleeting generosity of Mother Nature frozen in this resin art. Perhaps we should follow her lead and occasionally “give a wave” too.
Vince Broglio’s colorful works of resin wave art can be found in local galleries, including Many Hands Gallery in Capitola, and mysoiree.net. Broglio will also be taking part in Open Studios this fall on October 3,4,17 and 18.
Photo Credit: Kelly Vaillencourt