California Shaping

Only a small few remain who are shaping surf boards by hand. After the mid-90s onset of mass board production by machines and imports from China, these photographs share the hidden stories of the people still practicing the dying art of hand-shaping original boards. This is an ongoing project that began in North California after a chance meeting with the one-of-a-kind shaper Ed Barbera.

ED BARBERA, Bodega, North California

I was just about to leave the small town of Bodega on a road trip up North California’s coast road Highway 1, when a barefoot man with long white hair and paint spattered overalls walked by. I stopped and asked: “Are you an artist?” and that was the beginning of discovering the hidden workshop of Ed Barbera, an old master of making individual surf boards by hand.

Ed spent a large chunk of his life in Hawaii surfing and making boards before returning to California where he now shapes boards from a simple wooden studio. The boards are then sold in an adjacent shop with welcoming doors and windows of stickers, blood red roses weaving around a wooden porch and painted letters on a pitched roof: Northern Light Surfshop. He said of his craft: “Everything I am doing is dying”.