The first half of my recent trip to France was spent at Blend Glassing, in Soustons. Although I’ve been working with Fabrice, the Blend owner and main glasser, for a few years, I only recently had the opportunity to visit his factory.
Blend isn’t a huge factory nor does it have state of the art facilities. The factory is smaller than I expected, packed with shaped blanks, tools, surfboards, dust and resin – everything you expect to find in a genuine surfboard factory plus an amazingly talented crew of workers.
Blend glasses mostly shortboards, for brands like Channel Islands or Billabong, custom orders amd some World Tour names (I can’t say for who but only the best ones are sent out). They also make some special models that get full tints, polish or glass on wood fins. But it’s from his work with shapers like Chris Christenson, Josh Hall or Ryan Lovelace that Fabrice got his solid reputation as one of the best glassers in Europe – if not the best!
I had the pleasure of spending 3 days with him and my good friend Nico from Wavegliders, who has been working there since June. I lost track on how many boards went through the six stands at the glassing room. The work is completed quickly, on a well-organised workflow. Blanks move in and out of the glassing and sanding rooms; while boards dry, they install boxes or get the next batch ready for glassing.
They talk, they argue, they laugh and they have a lot of fun while doing an awesome job. Fabrice works with passion, he spent a few hours producing the most amazing pinlines I’ve ever seen, without thinking he might be losing precious time. He was working on a very special surfboard which needed time and dedication.
He needs the same dedication to run the factory alone; from getting blanks shaped to organising the factory work, handling costumers and delivering finished boards. Even with these busy and sometimes chaotic days, Fabrice always finds time for his family and to catch a few waves. And that’s what we did on Saturday afternoon, he closed the factory a little earlier and went for a late summer surf on a magical sand pointbreak, just 15 minutes from the factory. A beer while watching the sunset was the perfect end of a great day between friends.
Blend is a genuine “old school” factory, where foam, dust and resin are still part of the magical art of making surfboards.