3 September, 2015 3 September, 2015

Liam Bulgen’s Re-Purposed Fins (We Make It Sic)

After winning R10 000 worth of power tools in last year’s WE MAKE IT SIC competition in association with Bosch and Dremel, Liam Bulgen has been hard at work – putting his tools to the test and coming up with even more brilliant ideas. We caught up with him to get the lowdown on his latest entry, which consists of an assortment of re-purposed fins made from a computer motherboard, an old skateboard deck and a vinyl LP record!

Liam killing electronic waste one epic re-purposed fin at a time…

ZIGZAG: Last year you won the We Make It Sic! Functionality award for your Eco-Tailpad made from cork, has any further interest or production developed from that since?
LIAM: Although I haven’t taken the grip to market, I will be using a cork grip on a custom eco-board designed for a high profile musician/surfer.

How have the tools you won been treating you? Have they fueled your enthusiasm to create and work on new projects?
I must warn you, these tools have taken a toll on my relationship and social life. I can’t get enough! Not only do they enable me to properly execute my ideas, but they have inspired me to do more. Every project I start I can now finish better, which I draw new inspiration from every time.

Once again there is an epic collection of Bosch and Dremel tools up for grabs as prizes.

This year you’ve impressed us again, with three different re-purposed fin systems. How did you come up with the idea?
Thank you! Last year I made a hollow wooden 5’6 fish and used the Dremel to cut the fine wood inlay [pictured below]. I started using the leftover wood to make fins and realised that I could use a broken skateboard deck for fins too. The Keel Sk8 fins worked out well and I really enjoyed the process. While I was finishing them I was already thinking of other materials to use for my next fin project. Using a computer motherboard hit me after watching Star Wars. The next day I went to computer shops, scrap yards and finally found the precious motherboards at a place in Grassy Park on the Cape Flats. The look on people’s faces when I told them why I needed them was priceless. The idea for the LP fin was a result of me making modular shelves for my LP’s. I found a broken record and immediately got to work on the Flex-fin.

Liam’s homemade hollow wooden 5’6″ fish – one of his entries from last year.

Why did you use the materials that you did? The computer motherboard, record and used skateboard?
Motherboard: It’s naturally rigid and made from epoxy. I also like the intricate detail and contrast of the metal against the tinted epoxy. Stoked I found a functional way to up-cycle E-waist.
Skateboard: Wood is naturally strong and easy to sand and shape. The pieces I used were from the tail area of the skateboard and had a pre-shaped curve which is perfect for keel fins.
Record: The more recent LP’s were made out of vinyl, which is a type of plastic that allows for limited flex. I wanted this fin to inspire people and get them thinking.

What challenges did you face when making each of them? Did you have go through a few prototypes before achieving what you wanted?
The finished products are a result of lots of trial and error. It was challenging at times especially when combining different materials together because some where incompatible with each other. The break and flex test took up a lot of time. To be honest I got stuck in immediately. As soon as the idea came about and I had the materials it was a matter of plug and play.

The keel fin, crafted from an old wooden skateboard deck and re-enforced with carbon fibre.

Are re-purposed fins a viable option in practical terms, or is it more of a novelty? And what are the benefits as opposed to your standard mass produced fin systems if any?
In my opinion anything that is made using re-purposed materials and from natural materials is viable. The strength-to-weight ratio of these fins (expect the Flexfin) versus mass produced plastic and resin ‘pop-out’ fins is very impressive. The natural epoxy that I used is also stronger and less brittle than regular resin. I appreciate unique items that have good attention to detail and I favour products that consider the environment and have a healthy balance between form and function.

Last but not least, how do the fins go? Have they been surfed yet?
They go good! I am stoked with the performance. It is a really good feeling jamming a drop knee cutback and hooking the lip on fins that were hand made from junk.

Got any sick ideas of your own? Send in your entries to wemakeit.co.za and stand a chance to win your share of R30 000 worth of power tools from Bosch and Dremel. As far as rules are concerned, as long as you’re South African and your design is ocean or surf based, you’re in the green!

Single Flex (1)
This vinyl LP record gives this single Flexfin limited flex on turns and carves.

Liam’s winning entry from last year, the Eco-Tailpad made entirely from cork.

Liam Bulgen Elandsbay_26
Liam putting his 5’6 wooden fish to the test at Elands Bay up the west coast.

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