It's taken me years to write this post as I've long been fascinated by US Navy dazzle camouflage and how I could interpret it into a project. Widely used by the allies in the First World War and then again sparingly in the Second, it's distinct erratic line work was designed to confuse the enemy as to the size, speed, direction and angle of the travelling vessel, thus making it difficult to get an accurate bearing to launch an attack.
Inspired by the work of Carrie Schneider 2008 Dazzle Canoe, I had the idea of applying the pattern to a surfboard, but then realised that there would not be a 'glasser' anywhere in the world who would touch a project like this and so the idea got shelved.
A couple of months back on Instagram Jon of @mosquito_boat posted a photo of a chest of drawers that he had Dazzled and that photo made me think of wood instead of fibreglass and this revelation drew me to the Alaia, a finless wooden surfboard favoured by the Ancient Hawaiians. Choosing this medium made the whole concept possible and so I contacted Jon and and we worked on several ideas to arrive at a pattern to suit the profile of the Alaia board.
From here I teamed up with life-long friend @Charcoal_Smith, a talented sign writer, artist, ladder climber and hero and got down to the business end of applying paint and loads of masking tape. The final touches was the marking of the 'ships numbers', 44, the numerals of the Papa Nui Combat Beach Battalion.
Original sketches. Bottom and top.
Marking out the block colour seemed the best way.
Layering on the darker shades of grey. The pattern was basically two shades of grey, sporadic white and then overlayed on top with the black stripes.
It amazes me how dramatic an effect can be had with the simplicity of line.
Battle flag and numbers.
44 numerals of the Combat Beach Battalion.
Cole 'Charcoal' Smith, artist and sign writer.
Papa Nui with finished Alaia.
Having finally finished this project and seeing the ideas come to life, it reminds me of the importance of inspiration and that adage that says, 'It's not where you take things from, it's where you take them to'. All of us need to be inspired but we need to interpret things in our own way, we need to find a connection and draw our own parallels, we need to personalise and individualise and ultimately take ownship of an idea because this is what gives substance and authenticity. There is only one true way and that is in the words of Chris Issacs, "Be yourself because everyone else is already taken".
This forum is an opportunity for me to shoot shit on my favourite topics, namely surfing, board design, WWII military stuff, beachcombing and grass shack living and lets not forget vintage clothing and lots of other off beat and interesting stuff.
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