Mike Olivares (Custom Surfboards) an American Craftsman!


Environmentally friendly it is not. Foam dust and cigarette smoke hangs in the portion of remaining breathable air of a  claustrophobic closet of a room. What’s foam dust you ask? Keep quite, learn a little  you puke, as this is no Quiksilver/Roxy pop-out, made in China ,Google analytic marketing hustle designed for the bourgeois. I said, shut-up or get out, I don’t have time or patience for you spoiled maggots!

The craftsman and I kick, step,and shuffle through  small drifts of the snow-like or if you lived through the studio 54 years, Peruvian Flake  powder, freshly  shaven.   A Skil 100 lays on the soon to be cosmic, wave ridding, dream machine. Sinbad wished he had a magic carpet of a ride like this beauty, man!  “7′ ohh”, I say salivating as The man, a ghost from Dogtown past puffs his smoke simultaneously saying, “Look man I pulled in the rails so she will hold in the tube yet still flow, kids don’t know how to flow these days.Look at their hands when they surf. No flow.” Now listen very closely I am speaking of a certified legend, as this word is used to loosely these days, tagged and hash-tagged attempting to describe many a  juvenile and or apprentice.

I stare at his gnarled hands,the callouses, lines, blisters, age spots, and scars reveal a life of shaping boards by hand.  Dimensions, weight, and the intangible yet necessary are computed in his mind, he wants to talk to the rider about style and flow, he wants the board to work for the rider. “It wont stick in the wave, it will be loose. Your cutback will be like butter,man,” He says, moving his hands to the double barrel concave to V bottom.

Michael Olivares got his start humbly enough,roughing out boards,  being the whipping boy (what would now-a-days be certainly termed child abuse but back then was known as paying dues) hanging around surf shops.  The days when surfers where usually military veterans or other sturdy non-conformist looking to tune out of squares-ville, Dick Dale numbers blared on transistor radios, and the surf movie reigned supreme at the locals such as the Santa Monica Civic and the Hermosa Bijou.  These cats  used paraffin wax for traction, had surf knotts on their bodies and boards were made from balsa. Michael began his apprentice under the tutelage of another legend, Con Colburn who founded Con surfboards of Santa Monica, CA.

… to be continued
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10 Responses to “Mike Olivares (Custom Surfboards) an American Craftsman!”

  1. Mike shaped boards for me back in the 70’s and I’d love to find him again.

    Do you have a contact number for him, please?????

    Is he still living on Bonaparte near Marina del Rey????

    I’d really appreciate any help you can give, Mike is really hard to track down, even for a local.

  2. I crashed with Michael and his wife in Austin’s room many years ago on Bonaparte (for a few months)- sat in the shed with him for hours watching him do his craft, clean up for him etc. I can’t believe he is still alive after all the ‘board’ particles that he must have inhaled. It was extraordinary to watch him. People would come for miles. He had a friend who drew me some artwork and 30 years later, I still have it. Three continents I have carried it and Mike and his ex’s pics. Wish him well for me.

  3. Austin Olivares Says:

    Hi Fran! Because of you I still eat my Mac n cheese with ketchup.

    • omg. What a lovely way to start my day hearing from you! I am so glad that I ‘Canadianized’ you a little bit with the ketchup deal. Told ya it was much better! email me @ phran11@ yahoo.ca with pictures. I’m sure you have a family now! Much hugs! Fran

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