Behind The Scenes: Making my Upcycled Surfboard Resin Jewelry

People ask me almost every day in the shop “How do you make it?” about my upcycled surfboard resin jewelry. They are fascinated by how sleek and strong it is, the way the light shines through it and the play of colors. It’s a longish story… Back in 2008 my shaper, Dennis Ryder, who had been making tail blocks for some of his high-end boards out of the stuff, suggested I try making jewelry with it. I was instantly overwhelmed at the thought and let it sit for a while. It wasn’t until 2009, with Dennis’ encouragement, that I decided to take on the challenge and start the development process for this new Betty B. collection.

Upcycled Surfboard Resin Rings by Donna von Hoesslin of Betty Belts

Afternoon sunlight shines through my surfboard resin rings in a display of pretty color.

I knew it would not be easy. I wanted to create something that would make my designs easily reproduced and consistent so I could offer it on my website and in my wholesale program around the world. Working with leftover surfboard resin is not as easy as you’d think. Ask anyone who has tried it. My collaborator in life, David Pu’u, surfboard shaper for over 30 years, told me that he had perpetually lamented the steady supply of waste hardened resin, which would end up in a landfill as a byproduct of the manufacturing process. “We tried for years to come up with a viable use for the beautiful but inert and permanent multi-colored polyesther plastic”, he says.

Surfboards

Some of the actual surfboards the jewelry was made from, courtesy Ventura Surf Shop.

Each stripe in the jewelry is from a surfboard. A board that was made for a surfer. The colors we get in each batch are always random and beautiful, excess resin carefully captured and saved from each board made. Wearing a piece is a very unique way to stay connected to the ocean, because those boards are out there riding waves.

The source of upcycled surfboard resin jewelry

The source of my upcycled surfboard resin jewelry

A year of steady R&D passed and  with the expertise and input of three local manufacturers, I came up with a product that was all of the above but with one serious caveat: It was costly to produce. There are many people in the production chain and it’s locally made right here in Ventura. There’s a lot of hand work on these pieces, a lot of stoke and love goes into them. The expertise and skills combined to make them do not come cheap.

Surfboard resin rings with surfboard

Surfboard resin rings with surfboard

As many will remember who came into my Ventura shop during that time or visited the Betty Belts booth at Sacred Craft at the last ASR show in San Diego, I had some prototypes out just to see if and how people respond to them and if the price was bearable. Luckily response was favorable, and my fear that people may not see the value in a “piece of plastic” was alleviated. We went into production in the Fall of 2010 and the rest is history.

Donna wiring up the upcycled surfboard resin earrings

The earrings are wired up by myself and Amanda here at the shop and at home and I offer the necklaces on a variety of cord styles the customer can choose.

 

Sierra Partridge in a shoot for Hobie Girl, wearing Betty B. Surfboard Resin earrings.

Sierra Partridge in a shoot for Hobie Girl, wearing Betty B. Surfboard Resin earrings.Upcycled Surfboard Resin Necklace

Upcycled Surfboard Resin Heart Necklace

Upcycled Surfboard Resin Heart Necklace

 

Upcycled Surfboard Resin Necklace

Upcycled Surfboard Resin Necklace

Upcycled Surfboard Resin Earrings

Upcycled Surfboard Resin Earrings

Mini Circle Hoops made from upcycled surfboard resin

Mini Circle Hoops made from upcycled surfboard resin

 

Upcycled Surfboard Resin Necklace

Upcycled Surfboard Resin Necklace

By | 2017-01-16T17:07:09+00:00 January 24th, 2012|All, Environmental, fashion, News & Stuff, Products, recycling, surfing|6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Robert Parker February 21, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Do you guys have a rep for the east coast? Have been repping for many years and have lots of accounts from NY to FL.
    Aloha.
    Robert Parker
    910-297-5341

    • donna April 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      Hi Robert! I sent you an email a while back. Did you get it? Aloha, Donna

  2. Carola Donato February 21, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    WOW!!! This is so cool! What a great idea and the stuff looks amazing too! Well done. I love recycling stuff as I live on a small island in the Bahamas and we have to be very resourceful in general. I collect alot of seaglass with my kids and we make jewelry from seashells and seabeans that we find washed up on the beaches. But never in a million years I would have thought of this.

    Best regards from the Bahamas

    • donna April 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Aloha, Carola! Thank you for sharing your stoke. Don’t stop making beautiful things with your kids from your ocean treasures. They will cherish those memories forever! : )

  3. […] my story on the making of behind this unique […]

  4. david puu May 27, 2012 at 11:43 am

    For so many years (Think tens of thousands of hand made surfboards) I would either change out the flooring or empty the shop resin catchers and dumpster this material. It drove me to trying to solve the problem. But we never did completely. We just got better at creating less waste. We could not find a sustainable art based solution that was in keeping with the soul of sport and craft, not really, till now. One time we even got a 10,000 dollar fine in the mail from the Air Pollution Control district for illegal disposal of hazardous waste. (It is not haz mat BTW, they are just duplicitous and backwards leaning SOBS, or were, they grew as a result of our interaction) So this is how we could think. A closed loop life cycle for material which we must use. Simply brilliant in every way.

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