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Northern Express – Art to be ‘used and abused’

Jun 16, 2014 | Hype

Growing up in Petoskey, Jason Thelen dreamed of being a surfer and riding the big saltwater waves. But fate kept him near fresh water, so he adapted accordingly and began building custom standup paddleboards that “take the big lake’s little waves,” he said.

“My paddle boards are perfectly designed for all facets of the ride,” said Thelen, who opened Little Bay Boards in 2012. “Surf, flat, yoga, relax” anything you want to do on a board.”

With contrasting woods and a gleaming finish, Thelen’s boards are one-of-a-kind art works that salvaged. He picks up red and white cedar and basswood that mills don’t want.

“Every part of my boards is okay to the world,” said Thelen, who also uses VOC compliant resins. “I find the stuff mills are thinking about burning or throwing out and I try very hard to use all scraps from my boards. A half a trash can is usually what is left after a build.”

Little Bay Boards is a one-man shop making one board at a time” but they aren’t too precious to be used and “abused,” Thelen said.

“This is art, yes and these boards are amazingly beautiful, but they are more than that. They are built to ride – to be used and abused,” he said. “I get the biggest kick out of stories of clients hauling their boards off the car and inside for the night” cause it was going to rain! It’s a paddle board and supposed to be in water!”

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