What do you do when you break a board? Toss it in the Dumpster, save it for your wall collection or paint something on it and make it an art piece? George Rocha takes his broken decks and makes them into decks! How is Rocha resurrecting the dead? Black magic, perhaps? Well, he wouldn't go too deep into the actual process of his technique, but you will find out that he's a 100% skateboarder and that his company, Iris skateboards, is making a deck skateboarding has never seen before.
ESPN.com: Can you explain what is an Iris skateboard?
Rocha: They are cruiser boards made entirely of broken skateboard decks. Skateboards are made with glue and the catalyst in that glue is toxic, so it can't be put into landfills. So you have to do something with them. So I take broken ones and make them into skate-able ones and it just perpetuates the idea of keeping skateboards under your feet.
Are you an eco-conscious person?
Yes, I am. I'm not, like, a tree hugger, but I do think that we do have a responsibility on this planet not to kill it. So this is like an extension of that.
Is that the inspiration for making these decks?
No, it was more like a bonus. The inspiration is skateboarding itself. There are other people that will take broken boards and make sculptures -- for example, Haroshi, who's amazing at his craft. I'm not trying to copy; I'm just doing my version of what to do with a broken board.
Where are you getting the broken boards from?
Fortunately I live in San Francisco, where a lot of great companies exist here and they allow me to use their returns -- places like Deluxe, FTC and NHS. Big thanks to them. I do want to make a note that every board I use must be broken or cracked. If it's rideable, I'm gonna go down to the park and find a kid who wants it.
Is it possible to take a broken Iris board and make another one?
That's a good question! I can't wait for the day to have a stack of broken Iris boards and glue them together! Just perpetuate the cycle, you know.
What's your work background?
I've been building skateparks and working as a masonry carpenter most of my life. I started making ramps when I was 10 years old. I got hooked on making skateparks first at Freddy Smith's Skate Park, called "The Skate Hut," in Providence, RI. When my friend Sloppy Sam began a company [called] Breaking Ground is when I learned concrete. I basically jumped in and had to learn; that was 1999 or 2000ish. After that I've worked with Grindline, Red and the Dreamland crew -- great dude doing great work. Then I decided to stop traveling so much and to try and make my living in SF. I made Thrasher's "Double Rock" park and I make private pools for people.
How long does it take to craft an Iris board?
It varies. I make them by hand, so at best I can probably make 10 a week, just me. You can't walk down the street with one of these boards without someone stopping you and being like, "What is that?" It's obvious it's made of other boards, but [you] don't know how or the story behind it, so hopefully when someone gets one, they will know the story and keep passing it on.