Second Shot

Skateboarders have a unique outlook. They look at steps, railings, benches and retaining walls the way a skier looks at flags on a hill, plotting ways to slide seamlessly from one to the other. John Gibson of Orangeville has looked at things that way for almost as long as he can remember, and, since a moment’s inspiration three years ago, he has had a unique way of looking at skateboards, too.

Skateboards break – often – because of the punishment they take, and there is no way to repair them. However, for the last couple of years, instead of seeing something to be thrown out, John looks at a fractured skateboard deck and sees a watch, guitar, or a pair of earrings… and now he’s selling bits of broken boards around the world.

“Skateboards are made of seven layers of hardwood veneer,” he explains, “cross grained for flex and strength, and the layers are often dyed bright colours. Those are the ones I want.” John removes the outside graphics from the broken boards, cuts them into small squares, and laminates the squares. “I basically turn the deck back into a piece of wood.” The resulting fine, multicoloured mosaic becomes his palette.

John’s workshop is his garage. To control the dust, one corner set apart for sanding, another is for laminating and finishing. In nice weather he takes the dusty work outside.

“The first piece I made was wall art,” John said. “I went out to the garage and whipped it up. I hung it on my wall for a while. When I took a photo and listed it on etsy ( it soon sold for (about a week’s wages). A boarder in Alaska bought it for over his fireplace.” That was what John calls his “moment of clarity” and it’s when 2nd Shot began.

He has created other works for the wall, as well as trophies for local sports clubs, but the majority of his work is applied art. “Functional art is a big deal to me.” So most of his work has another purpose… like telling time. “I made a watch for a friend who had kept the pieces of his first skateboard,” John said. “Now I’m into the world of custom watches.” He created arms for a local company that makes sunglasses with bamboo frames, made boxes for cell phones… designed and made an electric guitar that required nearly 3,000 squares… assembles tiny pieces of his wood mosaic into key chains, earrings, bracelets and other jewelry.  The possibilities are endless. One project he picks up now and then is a fishing tackle box. And he has just purchased a small lathe and plans to start making pens.

Every item seems to have a ready market, particularly on line. “It’s a great way to get launched and now people from all over are interested in what I make.” Now John is firing on all cylinders to keep up with demand. With the support of local retailers and ready access to international markets through Internet marketing and sales, 2nd Shot has become John’s full time job, and the biggest challenge now is to find enough broken skateboards!

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