Paul Kerlaff

Edinburgh Napier University
Micro-Remaking as a Reciprocal Partner for Mass Production: The User-Remanufactured Surfboard
I propose to shape and reshape one polyurethane foam blank into three surfboards whose reduction in volume corresponds to growth in user expertise. I approach this as a non-expert maker in this field, though as a keen surfer; my intention is to explore our desire to engage with making, and how user engagement with small scale making and re-making can suggest new potential relationships with emergent material technologies. Progression in surfing relies upon a combination of the right sea conditions and equipment to support the user. From catching the first wave and standing up, to riding left or right along a wave and controlling turns, users progress from a large, foam covered board of around 8’ long to a mid length, lower volume board and finally onto ‘short’ boards of 6 feet or less. At any stage, the wrong board for the user level or wave power is a barrier to progress and most advanced surfers end up commissioning a custom made surfboard from a small number of expert shapers. These shapers are increasingly in competition with degrees of digital fabrication, either as a blended approach to rough shape boards or as a means to increase volume, typically with offshore production. The aim of this proposal is to explore the process of user micro-remanufacture in relation to skilled craft, in an age of perpetual uncertainty. It is not conceived as an alternative means of production as such, more as a complementary process, though there is potential for a surfboard designed for re-manufacture, particularly at the beginner/ intermediate phase. The proposal and documentation of the process through film and photography aims to stimulate debate of user understanding of made goods, through re-crafting objects of strong personal resonance. The implications of user micro-remanufacture suggest not only the development of new or hybrid materials which anticipate this process, for example blanks which encapsulate forms or contours to facilitate accurate reshaping, but also the development of social communities of micro re-shapers, and a new economies for the exchange of knowledge, tools and artifacts. This abstract relates most closely to the themes of material circularity, and alternative models of production and consumption described in Lifecycles of Material Worlds – Sustainability in Practice. However, also relevant are themes from Procedures of Making – Materials and Processers in Transformation.