Students design, build custom boards
Camille Young’s four cousins will receive skateboards as Christmas presents – all made by her in a summer session class in the School of Art and Design.
Young also made skateboards for her roommates, her mother, brother and herself – 11 total.
“They are standard street deck style unique to each of them,” she said. “I wanted to make them as unique as possible and put as much time and effort into it so it looks really good.”
Young still needed to attach wheels for the boards already completed and was waiting on wood to arrive for the others. She matched her friends and family interests, ranging from a yellow and black Hufflepuff Harry Potter themed board to a marbled green one that will be painted with a varsity letter and mascot for Ashbrook High School in Gastonia, where her mom teaches. Her mother plans to hang it in her classroom.
Young, an art major concentrating in photography and journalism, prefers roller skates but will try riding her skateboard. “I don’t really skateboard,” she said. “I’m really clumsy.”
Instructor Judd Snapp has taught 14 students over the five-week course how to cut, glue, seal and finish boards made from Canadian rock maple. Seven layers of veneer were glued together and pressed for each deck.
“Because the wood is so thin, it will take a bend,” Snapp said. “We put the glue between the layers and press against a form.”
The students had to work quickly to apply glue and layer the pieces in about 10 minutes before placing them in a vacuum bag for four to five hours. The end result is a rectangular piece of wood, leaving students to decide the shape of their board.
“We have some pretty crazy ones,” Snapp said. “Those boards are more sculptural. I’m not sure how functional it will be.”
One of the ornate boards was made by Christy Vang of Morganton, who painted ice crystals, a lotus flower and a woman’s face and scale or feather-like upper torso in muted blues and purples, all freehand. “I like to personalize my art,” she said. “I don’t know how to ride, but I’m going to ride it.”
Grant Chatham of Statesville is one of the experienced skaters in the class and also comes from a family of woodworkers. He has completed projects in ECU’s wood shop since his freshman year. He’s making three commissioned boards and a fourth for himself.
He picked up skateboarding once he got to college because it’s easier than dealing with a bike, he said.
“I mainly longboard,” said Chatham, a graphic design major. “It’s my main transportation to and from class. I like the freedom and I can get into smaller spaces with more agility.”
For Snapp, he enjoys teaching the students how to make something they can use. “It’s a utilitarian thing. We’re giving them the idea that if they want something, they can make it and they don’t have to buy it,” he said.
This is the third year that the School of Art and Design has offered a hands-on course giving students the opportunity to explore the intersection of art, craft, tradition and function, said director Kate Bukoski.
Students previously made canoes and paddleboards.