Coloured foam makes blanks that aren't

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

“New? Bloody hell no, I’ve been making them for years!”

“Really? How long have you been making them?”

“Aww, maate, thirty years at least.”

I’m speaking to Graham King about his new - to my eyes - foam swirl blanks. A simple premise, a small squirt of colour is added to the polyurethane mix just before the foam goes off, with the end result an abstract flourish of colour set against white foam.

You've seen resin tint swirls before; a complex procedure done during the glassing process. Well, Graham's new/old foam swirl blanks achieve a similar result, except the colour is in the foam not the lamination. 

The thought strikes me that perhaps I have seen them before and not known the difference..? Anyway, I'm too far into this story to stop.

Graham with a hot pink number

The blanks caught my eye, firstly because they’re, erm, eye-catching, and secondly because with the current squeeze on laminating and finishing - some shapers have been waiting six months to get work done - the blanks give the same finish as resin swirls, except without the complexity. They take two, perhaps three, steps out of the laminating process, meaning less time in the bottleneck.

I asked Graham about the process that led to his discovery of foam swirl blanks and his answer was, unsurprisingly, matter-of-fact.

“No big story. I don’t know why I did it,” says Graham. “I just thought, ‘I’ll try this’, so I got some colour and squirted it in, and that’s what happened.”

When I put it to Graham that if it was so easy everyone would be doing it, he expands on it slightly.

“Yeah well, quite a few people have copied it but they can’t get the same result,” explains Graham. “They look bloody horrible. And one of those US manufacturers tried it and they fucked it up - made it look hideous.”

Green in the foam, blue, black, and white on his scone - up the Sharkies!

Timing, as it turns out, is everything when making foam swirl blanks. If the colour goes in too early it gets mixed right through the blank and the end result is a solid colour. The colour has to be added very late in the process. Which is a dangerous proposition when a toxic cocktail is getting mixed into a new chemical state.

“If you see me with one hand you’ll know what’s happened,” laughs Graham.

Graham King has been working in the surf industry since the late 1950s, shaping and finishing boards, and since the 1960s he’s run South Shore Foam, supplying blanks for other manufacturers. In 2018, he moved from the Sutherland Shire, where he’d been located since the early-70s, to the Tweed Coast.

Since the move, he’s used Sanded Australia to distribute some of his blanks, including the foam swirl numbers. John Dowse from Sanded says that the blanks have proven very popular.

“Every order we sell through,” says John. “We keep upping the order. We’re waiting for our next delivery and we’ve upped the amount again.”

And the typical customer? “Not always, but we’re mainly selling them to the backyarders,” explains John. “They might be learning how to cut lap and resin swirl, and those things are a lot more difficult than a basic glass job, but with these blanks it’s all there in the foam.”

“And,” adds John, “every single blank is individual. They’re like pieces of art.”

The latest foam swirl board at at the Sanded factory

I ask John about changes to the blank from adding colour but he defers to Graham: “He’s the guy with his hands in the mold.”

“So many people say that the swirl blanks go better,” says Graham when I enquire.

“In fact, I’ve had one manufacturer even ask me to put white colour into the blanks. Like, the colour is there but it’s not visible against the white foam. He preferred them that way.”

Contact John at Sanded Australia is you're keen on the look

Comments

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 11:14am

well ya learn something everyday...didnt know that.....

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 11:25am

Blank prices are ?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 11:30am

$5 more than usual....I think.

John..?

sanded's picture
sanded's picture
sanded Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 2:46pm

Yep Stu
That right $5 for the smaller blanks to $10-$15 for bigger and mals

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 12:16pm

$5 is good
OceanFoam also do them and Core
https://oceanfoam.com.au/

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 11:40am

I reckon they look cool and no two will ever be alike.

I wonder what would come out if he threw a handful of hundreds & thousands into the mix?

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 11:57am

Call that model the fairy bread

marcus's picture
marcus's picture
marcus Monday, 12 Apr 2021 at 1:26pm

what next? coon cheese?
its called non gendered happy speckles bread mate

tiger's picture
tiger's picture
tiger Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 2:35pm

I made a few boards out of the ocean foam ones back in probably 2002. They looked great, but the foam was far inferior to the burfords I always used.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 2:44pm

i would like to see a yellow one please

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 2:58pm

Personally I think they’re all hideous. Doesn’t detract from the way Graham King has improved my experience of surfing though. To paraphrase the dolphins from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:” Thanks for all the blanks”

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 3:01pm

Fck the lack of an edit button.......

I thought of something else to say but it’s not worthy of its own post. In fact I can’t even think what it was after being stalled by the lack of an edit option.

Apparently a whinge about the site technicals is though....

ron's picture
ron's picture
ron Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 5:02pm

Seen a few of these in the flesh, look good, not as nice as a proper resin tint job.

Fine for machine shapes. I think part of the reason they haven't taken off with many hand shapers is the colours throw your eye off when hand shaping. The shadows and lines are harder to read.

Sacdog1's picture
Sacdog1's picture
Sacdog1 Saturday, 10 Apr 2021 at 9:16am

Love the Sharkies beanie!

Supafreak's picture
Supafreak's picture
Supafreak Saturday, 10 Apr 2021 at 5:20pm

I reckon they look awesome, I've got a Jim Banks with resin tint but these are definitely worth the extra couple of bux

PeteWebb's picture
PeteWebb's picture
PeteWebb Sunday, 11 Apr 2021 at 5:39am

What about doing solid colours in the blanks?

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Sunday, 11 Apr 2021 at 6:05am
blower's picture
blower's picture
blower Sunday, 11 Apr 2021 at 8:06am

Kingy, some like to think he retired after Kirrawee...
Always in the mix, has been from the start. Just not as heralded as Brookvale.
Keep on truckin' mate.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Sunday, 11 Apr 2021 at 10:40am

Geeze,
they'd be hard to hand shape.....
I'm a man in the dark ages.
No shaping machines I can piggyback off.
I think most blanks are white for a reason. White actually hides the shapers flaws.
I always shape a board then spray it.
Great concept though.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Sunday, 11 Apr 2021 at 10:46am

What did happen to the edit button?

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Monday, 12 Apr 2021 at 5:19pm

Saw a board yesterday with a blank coloured like this article. Just a bloke on the beach so didn't know if it was a Japanese board. Looked pretty cool though.