For Chuck and Janet Lipps, the creative forces behind Surf to Art, it all comes down to the connection between the surfer, their board and the vast ocean. As the surfer waits for that perfect wave, with the taste of salt on the lips and the feel of the familiar fiberglass of their favorite board, there is no other freedom, no other peace, and no other excitement quite like it. For a surfer, it is a permanent part of you. Just a glance at the ocean brings it all back. You still remember that special board that you used when you caught your first wave.
Did you ever wonder what happens to old surfboards when they have caught one too many waves? They are called “beater boards,” and believe it or not, there are people that collect and restore them. Some of the boards get restored back to usable status. Others end up in the hands of Janet and Chuck Lipps, where they are transformed from “Surf to Art.”

Chuck and Janet live on the slopes of Mount Hualalai, a dormant volcano overlooking Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii in a house that they built. As you walk through their home, the craftsmanship comes through in each detail. It's the same care and passion that they put into each surfboard they enhance. Their beautiful home is where surfboards are reborn from “beater boards” to fine art.
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The property has become an artist’s palette, where each step of the process unfolds and the memories of the surfer and the boards emerge from water and wave to works of art. Beside the house are the old surfboards waiting for revival. In the garage are more surfboards being prepared and stoned. In the den is another one a little further along. The stones are set, but the intricate patterns of smaller semiprecious stones are being laid out. On the lanai, another surfboard is being painted.
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Each board begins its new life with a frame of stone mosaic artwork that surrounds exotic inlaid island woods. The process starts with Chuck selecting the boards that he wants to revive. “Some boards speak to me right away while the design for others slowly evolves. I love the shape and feel of certain boards.”

As Chuck begins repairing the damaged and tired surfboards, he starts to imagine what design fits that board. Next, he and Janet look at the boards together and she will often make suggestions.
Sometimes when I think I have it all figured out, Janet looks at it and envisions something different.” An artist, interior designer, and art gallery owner, Janet has a keen eye for aesthetics and balance.
Chuck, a commercial general contractor, loves the process of taking something old and broken, and making it beautiful again, in a whole new way. He starts the actual restoration by repairing the existing damage. Making sure the surface is smooth and clean.
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Progressing, he begins to carefully install exotic Hawaiian wood veneers, usually koa or mango. Stones are then secured to the board to create the pattern he has imagined. When he has it exactly the way he wants, he carefully grouts the stone work. “As a contractor, I build what other people design. Almost everything is chosen or decided before I touch it. With these surfboards I get to pick the finish and the design.” Finally, a finish is applied to the stones, grout and exotic wood.
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These are truly a labor of love. Each board has a unique design which enhances the original shape and design. Whenever possible, the identifications mark of the surfboards shaper or surfer are maintained on the bottom of the board. The restoration and new design for each board can take up to one-hundred hours to complete.

When Chuck is done with his part, the surfboard goes onto Janet’s art easel where she sketches, then paints a Hawaiian scene or subject to complete their inspiration. “The shape and the wood grain of each board is unique,” explains Janet, “unlike painting on a canvas. I picture an image that works with each one-of-a-kind board. Sketches are very important to process. I especially enjoy painting water scenes.”

Every board is unique. Every board is different. An idea that was born while enjoying sushi at their favorite restaurant now brings them closer to their goal of working at home, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, far from the corporate mainland careers they left behind. Every board tells its own story. That story which started on the crest of a wave and will now continue on the wall of its new owner.

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