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.
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.
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.
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.
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.