Blake Hansen and I stand close on the balcony of his one-bedroom apartment in Oceanside, chilled by the salty wind blowing through both us and the palm trees that spread to the horizon of the flatlands. His girlfriend and their baby sit warmly inside, entertaining another guest that came to visit Hansen and the four-month-old.
Their apartment is tidy and comfortable for a couple in their early 20s, its empty spaces filled with surfboards, baby stuff, and musical instruments.
The two of us lean on the railing listening to the leaves rustling, looking inside.
Describe to me what a normal day looks like for you.
(Laughs) I don’t really have any normal days lately. On a good day, not like a fried work day, usually wake from Hazel ‘cuz she’s like squirming and making noise and crying and whatnot then say, ‘What’s up Hazel!’ and then she’ll smile at me and that’s always really good and then cruise out here to the living room then Maddy or I will make a pot of coffee, you know just morning stuff, usually some bacon and um after that then Maddy and I will go on a drive on the beach road and look at the waves and if it looks good we’ll – usually she goes first and I’ll watch the baby ‘cuz Hazel will be hungry or something, then we’ll go skate, is that good, should I keep the answers short?
(Laughs) No long is good. Tell me a little about the shop you work at.
Well, the shop I work at is a glass factory owned by Wes Holderman, but he’s also a surfboard builder, he has his own company called Weston Surfboard, they’re really beautiful boards, and it’s also a production glass shop, there’s usually 20 to 30 boards being made a week, from foam. A lot of shapers give their boards to us and we turn them into surfboards.
Yeah, could you tell me about the process of making the whole surfboard and what’s your role in it?
So, there’s a whole process, in a nutshell, it starts off with foam and it’s called laminate where you lay down the fiberglass cloth, you usually do the bottom of the board first, so you lay it down over the bottom and you blast that then you flip it over and do it on the other side, then you add this thing called hot coat resin to it, splash some hot coat on there then you put on some fins and fin boxes and then this is where I come in and I sand them or polish ‘em and make em feel and look good for surf shops or whoever.
Tell me a little bit about what you’re doing with making your own surfboards now and about that first one that you made…the Hazel Blu one.
Oh, that one right there? Blake points inside towards a stack of boards.
Yeah, tell me about that, so that’s the first board you ever made?
Yeah, so Wes taught me everything I know about glassing surfboards and I’ve been doing that for about two years and then I was finally like, ‘I wanna shape a board, I feel like I know how to fully glass it and I know I wanna do it all by myself’ so I just shaped it, I didn’t have a template, I just took a picture of an old Brewer, so I tried to make something like that but the Brewer is a double winged swallow tail so it’s really complex so I was like, ‘I can’t do that’ so I just made it a pin tail.
So you basically just freehanded it?
Yeah, freehanded it, the outline, and then um basically just hacked it up with a planer and expanded it down.
That’s sick, and now you’re starting to make more of those and kinda making it a brand a little bit?
Yeah, so I wrote ‘Hazel Blu,’ that’s my daughter, on there on the deck in cursive and then I was like, ‘I know I wanna get Hazel Blu tattooed on me,’(see left wrist on cover) and I liked that lettering so then I like showed the guy.
Oh, you just drew that yourself?
Yeah, I just wrote it on with a paint pen — laughs — yeah my boss was so confused ‘cuz like my printing sucks so he asked, ‘You did this? What the fuck?’ and yeah so I kinda wanted that writing on my arm so then the tattoo artist made that letter and was like, ‘Oh, let’s throw a lightning bolt in there,’ and I was like, ‘Fuck yeah, that’s sick! That completes it,’ then before he put the stencil on my wrist I was like, ‘Woah, that’d be a cool logo’ and he said he could make it ‘cuz he’s like a screen printer and stuff, so I went forward with it and I started making logos with it and I started making more surfboards and throwing them on there. I actually just sold my first one, to a buddy of mine.
That was the guy I was walking in past today?
Yeah! That was like the first transaction for a surfboard that went down.
Do you see that becoming, like, a future for you?
I mean, I feel like I’ve been putting so much work into this and I really like it, I really enjoy it, so yeah.
Hell yeah. So I just wanted to ask you a couple questions about Hazel too, she’s how old right now?
Four months. She was born December 28.
How’s it been?
Dude, it’s nothing you can explain, it’s so rad. How do I explain it, like you never knew you had so much love for something and everybody always says that but you know, you’re like ‘Yeah, OK,’ but then you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh I understand, this is insane, like you’re the best thing ever,’ like now everything I do is for her that’s why I’m working my ass off, ‘cuz it’s all for her and so we can live here and like not in our van. And I just remember my young memories of my dad and my mom just like stoked on life and now she gets to, and it’s cool ‘cuz I’m pretty young, I’m only 21, so when she’s my age I’ll be 40 and hopefully I’ll still have lots of energy.
You said you usually play guitar for her like each morning too?
Yeah every morning, every morning, unless I have to work super early and she’s not up yet and I have to sneak out. I’ll wake up and like, play with her on the bed and she’s just chillin’ and we’ll grab the guitar next to her and jam or I’ll bring her out to the living room to my electric guitar. I make it point to do it every single day, ‘cuz I remember when I was young and still now to this day I just love the sound. I wanna give her that, hopefully, that feeling where it’s like, ‘Reminds me of the good ol’ days,’ when she’s like our age and thinking about her childhood, I want her to have a sick childhood.