An interview of Tristan Mausse by Glenn Sakamoto
Tristan Mausse is a French surfer/shaper who spent years travelling the world taking work as a laminator for various factories and continues to do so today. The result of his experience is visually chronicled in his latest book, Glass Shops. We asked Tristen a few questions to learn more.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I started surfing when I was 10. I shaped and glassed my first 10 boards when I was 16 in my parent’s garage. Around that time, I was able to get a full time job as a sander/glasser in one of the best European factories – UWL in France. I was really passionate about surfboards and working in a surfboard factory. At only 17 years old I was living the dream of working in the surf industry, learning how to make a surfboards from start to finish, and I was able to meet all the international shapers who were coming from Australia, the US, and Hawaii.
After 3 years, I left UWL and spent a year in Australia on the East Coast. I worked for many many glass shops and kept learning more. With all of my gained knowledge and experience, I was able to work anywhere in the world. I started working as a glasser in different factories and countries: Australia, Spain, Brazil, Italy, Canary Islands, Canada, Bali, France, California. I never stopped. I am set to spend a full year in Indonesia with my family and I will be working for one of the best factories in Bali. I’m glassing all the resin tints, back shaping some Lost surfboards, and running my own label Fantastic Acid – 100% hand shaped, single fin planing and displacement hulls.
What was the inspiration for your book, Glass Shops?
The inspiration was all the wonderful people I’ve met for the past 10 years in factories. All of them are like brothers to me. It’s really difficult to work in a glass shop because if you want to make a decent salary you have to work a lot. You are exposed to dust, noise, fumes – and you have to stay all day long, in the dark, under fluorescent lights.
You need to be passionate to work in surfboard industry. Because of this, there is a strong relationship between glassers, sanders and shapers. It’s all of the wonderful people working with me that became my inspiration. And the art. There are colors everywhere, dried resin mountains, graffiti on the walls – all of which contain history.
It’s all of the wonderful people working with me that became my inspiration. And the art. There are colors everywhere, dried resin mountains, graffiti on the walls – all of which contain history.
The photo on the cover of the book was when I working for Matt Biolos of Lost Surfboards. The factory named Catalyst were just a tiny glass shop in San Clemente, with only two rooms, in front of the ocean, and it was the first factory for Herbie Fletcher. The painting on the wall and the posters are still the same since 1976.
Why did it take 10 years to complete? What were some of the challenges?
I never expected to do a book. 10 years ago when I had my first job in a surfboards factory, I was just so passionate and I fell in love with the beauty of a surfboard. I began taking photos of almost every board Ii had ever worked on. And over the years, I also took photos of the shaping rooms and of shapers. I lost maybe 3/4 of all the photos (dead computers, lost hard drives, etc,). With the remaining photos, I decided to do a book.
What can readers expect from Glass Shops?
It’s mostly a book of board photos. It’s not a book with the selection of the best boards made in 10 years. It’s more an archive of the many different boards i have been working on. Beautiful and unique boards, or photos of production clear shortboards. Included are portraits of shapers and glassers. And photos of people in action in the shaping and glassing rooms. There is some text, too, with short stories and a big introduction. Readers can expect a huge book of 480 pages – an archive of 10 years of my life of making surfboards around the world.
Of all the people you discovered and learned about, who impressed you the most?
The first ones forever were Renaud Cardinal and Louis Robert. I was impressed by the quality of work they were creating. They were the first ones to show me how to work properly.
I think the one who impressed me the most was Malcolm Campbell. How he kept believing in his design, and never quit it after 40 years. The Bonzer is really famous now, but I remember when i started it was still pretty underground. I made a surfboards documentary in 2011 called Sacrebleu and i went to California for film Malcolm. The thing he told me many times was during the early years, nobody trusted his designs because they were different. In the ‘80s and early ‘90s the focus was on the classic Thruster evolution and he was not selling many Bonzers. He had to work for Channel Islands on the side. But he never gave up and now his boards have rightly earned their place in today’s alternative surfboard market.
What has been the reaction to Glass Shops?
People like it. It’s an underground subject and not everyone wants to see photos of dirty workshops and not everyone can understand all the work and hours there is on just one piece of foam. But I feel that those who are passionate about surfboards will definitely like it.
How can someone from the US order Glass Shops?
I’m working with a worldwide printing company, if Ii get an order from US, I will get the book printed in USA and have it sent directly to the customer.
I’m working on another book project named Surfboard Dynamics. It’s contemporary research about planing and displacement hulls. I’ve included many shapers and designers. It’s a small book – more technical than my first book, and it covers the theory and culture of the hull. It should be finished before end of this year.