I came across Mat Heriottalk, known as The Hairy Handyman on Instagram through a tag from flluske.bubble and immediately fell in love with his creations made from broken skateboards! I found it fascinating that someone could envision creating adornments from random bits of skateboards and actually make them. In my eyes these works are another excellent example of the creativity that can be used to solve our waste problems and create a more circular economy through reuse, repurposing, and recycling.

A stack of broken skateboards.
Broken Skateboards in the workshop. Image credit: Eva Kiss.

I checked out Mat’s Etsy store and can now say I’m the proud owner of a bangle, ring and earrings made from upcycled broken skateboards. And just to underline how much I like them, it has been 11 years since I got married and that was the last time I got myself some jewellery.

I contacted Mat to ask him a few more questions for this blog post and discovered that the bangle I picked out was actually the first one he ever made. For some reason that has meaning for me, not sure why. I guess it’s the sort of thing that comes with knowing your things are handmade by someone. Check out more about Mat’s great story below.

A bangle made from upcycled broken skateboards hanging on a nail in The Hairy Handyman's workshop.
This is my bangle in The Hairy Handyman’s workshop. Image credit: Eva Kiss.
A bangle and ring made from upcycled broken skateboards shown on a female hand.
And here it is on me, along with one of the rings made by The Hairy Handyman.
A jumble of rings made from upcycled broken skateboards on a bench in The Hairy Handyman's workshop.
Here are some more rings made by The Hairy Handyman. Image credit: Eva Kiss.

How did you come up with the idea to recycle old skateboards into jewellery and other products? Where do the skateboards you use come from?

It all started when I saw a ring on Instagram made from skateboards and I wanted to try. 

I went to see the owner of SkaterHQ (a skateboard store here in Manly) to see if I could get a broken board. Basically he said no, and he went on to explain that he gives all his old gear to a charity called Recycled Fun by Skateworks. I went home a bit peeved and looked them up.

Basically they collect skateboards and take them out to remote indigenous communities where they teach people to skate and keep them involved in education.

I loved the idea so I contacted the founder and instantly became the Sydney rep who drives all over town collecting boards. It’s a double win for me though, as I love helping the kids and I get boards.

I post through different Facebook groups asking for good boards for skateworks and end up with broken bits too.

It’s been an amazing experience as I have met loads of skaters and they are all incredible. For a genre of people who get put down continually they are the kindest and most helpful people. 

I’m still always on the look out for boards though.  

A jumble of skateboards and gear ready to head to the indigenous youth of the Northern Territory. 30 complete boards along with an extra 30 sets of trucks, 50 blank decks 486 wheels, bags and bags of bearings and other stuff that skateboarders love!
“More skateboards and gear ready to head to the indigenous youth of the Northern Territory. 30 complete boards along with an extra 30 sets of trucks, 50 blank decks 486 wheels (approx. I didn’t count) bags and bags of bearings and other stuff that skateboarders love!!
Many thanks to @skaterhq for their continuous support, @balgowlahsocial who are so generous to offer a free coffee for every board that people take in, @quaintly @darrenmobbs and @aintnoslr for their massive donations and every single other person who has been kind enough to donate.”

How do you make the bangles?

How I make the bangles is pretty simple.  I usually use the nose section of the board.  I screw it to a backing board and mark out where I can cut two bangles. I use different size hole saws in a drill press to cut the shape. I then use an epoxy to glue the two pieces of deck together. Then it gets really old school and I sand them. I have to use a dremel to start with because the circles are often pretty wonky in the beginning. Then once the shape is right I just go through the grades of sand paper to get it really smooth. When it’s done I use an oil based exterior gloss varnish. I do four coats to try and make them as tough as possible. So, unfortunately the making process is nothing amazing. It’s the boards that are the stars and not me. 

A bangle made from upcycled broken skateboards hanging on a nail in The Hairy Handyman's workshop.
Image credit: Eva Kiss.

Mat also makes other things so be sure to check it all out. I hope your as excited as me about these discoveries. And how great to discover Mat’s involvement with the Recycled Fun Skateworks Project! I definitely think there is a follow up opportunity here for another blog post.

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