Monday, March 28, 2011
Spirare Surfboards and Kickstarter.com
NARRAGANSETT–Tired of seeing trash on RI’s beautiful beaches? Local surfboard shaper Kevin Cunningham is doing something about it, and you can help. Kevin, Founder/Owner of Spirare Surfboards, has teamed up with Kickstarter, an organization dedicated to helping artists carry out their visions, to bring you Spirare Sustainable Surf Craft a.k.a. the Trash Board.
Cunningham’s plan is to gather trash from local beaches and re-use these materials in the already green, recycled, surfboards that he creates everyday.
“I like to view my surfboards as functional art,” said Cunningham during a recent interview. The trash he collects will be used in the same vein. Some pieces such as plastic bottles will be cut up, broken down and made into beautiful fins, which he is known for. Plastic bags can be, “woven into a strengthening cloth,” which will increase the boards overall durability. Other items salvaged will be used to cover the canvas of Kevin’s Sustainable Surf Craft with inlays and patterns to please the eye.
From now through April 16 Cunninghan is gathering pledges online to reach his goal of $3,200 that he needs to complete the project. Once he has reached this mark he will begin utilizing trash that he and his girlfriend have been consistently picking up while surfing and walking along local beaches. The boards will be completed by summertime and ready to be displayed in art galleries around the country. After those pieces are done Cunningham will produce a limited run of 100 hand shaped, signed, and numbered reclaimed trash surfboards for custom orders. His boards have already been featured at the One Way Gallery in Narragansett as well as many other galleries and surf shops around New England.
“The atmosphere in which my surfboards are viewed changes the way they are seen,” he said.
People who pledge will get more than just a warm fuzzy feeling and a good night’s rest. Depending on the amount you pledge, gifts range from; Spirare Surfboard T-shirts and tote bags to, body surfing hand planes crafted out of paulownia and found driftwood, to a percentage off a custom surfboard!
Cunningham, a native of Baltimore, MD grew up surfing the beach breaks of Ocean City during his families’ summer trips, but it wasn’t until 2003 while studying architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design that he took to surfing full time.
“I couldn’t afford surfboards, but I could afford the materials used to make them,” he said. Since he began shaping, Kevin has made his own pledge to use green design, and sustainable materials to make boards that perform well, look good, and have a low environmental impact.
Traditional surfboard blanks are highly toxic, only 3 to 4 percent recyclable, and create large amounts of liquid and solid waste. The blanks that Cunningham uses are made from recycled EPS or, extruded polystyrene foam, which is derived from Styrofoam coffee cups and food containers.
Some of Cunningham’s boards are simply EPS foam with a wooden stringer. A stringer is a small strip of wood that traditionally runs down the center of a surfboard. They help the board retain its flex and remember which position to return to as foam itself has no memory and alone will remain flexed if not pulled back by the wood. Many Spirare surfboards contain multiple stringers with beautiful curves and arcs inlayed for artistic and structural purposes.
Kevin also makes boards with a stronger core, and an even stronger pledge to the environment. His wood and honeycomb boards are on the cutting edge of what it means to be green when it comes to surfboard shaping.
The wood boards start with the same recycled EPS foam core but are finished by covering the board in a poplar wood skin, and parabolic wood perimeter made from paulownia to add strength and flex to the board which will help it project out of turns and also increase its life ten fold with no reduction in performance over time. Aside from all the functional purposes that a wood skin provides, the boards are so astounding to look at that even a non-surfer can appreciate their beauty and fine detail.
Kevin’s Honeycomb boards are what truly defines his pledge to the earth and highlight his shaping creativity. There is no foam whatsoever in these boards. In his shop, Kevin pieces together thin strips of bamboo veneer to make a lightweight and super durable honeycomb core.
Cunningham installs the core into a balsa wood frame, which he then shapes and finishes with a poplar wood skin and paulownia rails. The result is the strongest, greenest board on the market today.
These are not just “feel good” boards. Spirare Surfboards are legit. They perform so well that popular professional surf sponsor Nike 6.0 has commissioned Kevin to build boards for their team surfers including Coco Ho, and Carissa Moore, both of whom are rising stars with world title contention in their grasp. His honeycomb design won him the 2008 RI State Fellowship in Design and the 2010 RI State Council on the Arts Professional Artist Development Grant. Recently even the likes of surfing legend Tom Carroll have placed custom orders for Kevin’s boards.
Most surfers make a pledge to help keep our beaches and waters cleaner. Some even join organizations such as Surf Rider and participate in beach clean-ups. Kevin Cunningham has taken this pledge a step further and made it his livelihood, creating greener boards for cleaner waters.
To make a donation to Kevin’s Kickstarter project visit www.kickstarter.com/projects and for more information on Spirare Surfboards visit www.spiraresurfboards.com