Founders of new Cornwall-based community initiative Giftwood Projects think learning to build a surfboard can be a life-changing experience.

Founders of new Cornwall-based community initiative Giftwood Projects think learning to build a surfboard can be a life-changing experience.

Giftwood Projects is a new initiative from the good people behind bespoke wooden surfboard company Driftwood. Based outta Cornwall (the UK’s California), Giftwood Projects aims to provide design and manufacturing courses to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to equip them with the skills to start making whatever they want to make.

At the moment the founders David and Jenna are trying to raise money on Crowdfunder to get the equipment necessary to get the courses up and running. We caught up with the pumped pair to find out why woodworking is rad for everyone.

 

Why I Do What I Do

by David Forsyth

 

What exactly is Giftwood?
Giftwood is a new arm of Driftwood Surfboards to give something back to society. The Giftwood Projects are all about providing bespoke enrichment programmes to people of all situations, backgrounds and ability levels, by offering them the opportunity to have creative freedom in design and manufacturing. We guide them through the process of designing and making their own handplanes, surfboards and skateboards, which they then learn to ride. Hopefully people will get hooked for the rest of their lives and improve their physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

Why did you decide to try and make it happen?
I’ve spent five years studying sustainable product design and building wooden surfboards has been an amazing experience – surfing a board you made yourself is something very special. We are initially starting to teach unemployed teenagers, who are out of education, with the aim of getting them into work experience, employment or back into education. When I was younger I struggled to find a decent job and got sick of rejection letters when applying for jobs. This really knocks confidence and motivation. We hope to bridge this gap between school and work/college and beyond. If something like the Giftwood Projects was around when I was younger I would have gained work experience at a much younger age and had more motivation. We feel that we can make a real difference in young people’s lives. After meeting Jenna and hearing about her success as a youth worker I realised we would make a great team. My expertise in design and manufacturing and Jenna’s expertise in youth work is going to be a great combination.

How do you hope it will have an impact?

Initially we want to get teenagers back into education, employment or work experience by teaching them about sustainable surf or skate products and how they are made. This will then roll out to high school, college and university students to give them life skills and work experience skills. It’s not just making a handplane or a surfboard. The real impact is teaching about the transferable skills involved in the process of making these objects. We hope that the biggest impact will be motivating people to learn a little about design and sustainability while improving employment in the South West.

What’s the shaping scene in the South West like?
There’s a real underground scene of backyard shapers down here and indeed the whole world. Whether it’s foam/wood or a hybrid of both. I think it’s great and everyone who surfs would benefit from making a board and understanding why they work the way they do. In recent years there has been lots of imported surfboards. I think consumers are realising that it’s best to buy British and more people are looking for sustainable products. It’s an exciting time for surfboard design and it can only get better.

Who’s involved in Giftwood and what does everyone do?
I’m the founder of Driftwood Surfboards. Driftwood Surfboards began in my garden shed three years ago with a stack of reclaimed wood and a goal of making a sustainable surfboard. After finishing furniture design I studied sustainable 3D design at Falmouth University, which helped me find my feet. After completing the degree I was asked to continue with the university to teach CNC Manufacture and Computer Aided Design on the Sustainable Product Design Course. I now want to teach others what I’ve learnt.

Jenna is an experienced Youth Worker and has been working with a well respected organisation in Cornwall for the past two years planning and delivering events, learning programmes and activities. She has supported people from a variety of ages, abilities and backgrounds and is very passionate about ensuring each individual gets everything they need to help them move forward.

How can people get involved/show support?
People can get involved in a number of ways. Simply spreading the word through social media etc is a great start. We have some great rewards for people who pledge money to the Giftwood Projects to help things move forward – anything from a custom handplane to coming to our studio to build your own Driftwood surfboard. We will be using the money to set up a brand new training facility, so any help from tradespeople would be awesome. We have also been very lucky to get limited edition prints from fashion photographer Josh Ollins that will come with a certificate of authenticity and a great wooden frame. If you are a teacher or organisation that would benefit from our classes we’d also love to hear from you.

What have been the challenges in bringing Giftwood to life?
All is going well to be honest. We have schools and universities interested in sending their students on activity weeks or offering our courses as prizes for competitions. We’ve also got some great local business mentoring from Unlocking Potential and Oxford Innovation. The biggest challenge is getting the new workshop set up and the tools needed to help bring the project to life. That’s why we are seeking help from the community.

What have been the major inspirations?
Since studying sustainable product design I have just had an urge to create and share and improve my craft. There’s a few quotes that inspire me – “choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life”.

What’s the future for Giftwood?
Giftwood will to continue to grow and inspire people to learn how to design and make their own innovative products. We will start with surfboards and handplanes but will evolve into other collaborations with skateboard designers, guitar makers and anyone else with a passion to keep craft and design alive – we want to nurture a community of designer makers teaching people their craft.

You can support Giftwood Projects on their Crowdfunder page.