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    Photos by Katie Molck

    Jeremy Vessels was working as a carpenter on a “million-dollar jobsite” not long ago, and he started to learn how to mold plywood — gluing and pressing multiple layers of veneer together. The lifelong skater knew the boards he’d ridden for three decades were molded plywood. If he could master the process, he’d be able to turn old boards into art and furniture. After purchasing the tools and supplies he’d need (band saw, bearing press with a 12-ton jack, wood glue) and finding inspiration in the work of Haroshi — “the Picasso of recycled skateboards,” Vessels says — he got to work making tables, wall hangings, sculptures, cutting boards and even beer tap handles on commission. 

    He starts by picking up used or broken skateboards from Home Skate Shop on Bardstown Road or Tiny Skate Shop at the Riot Skatepark off Bluegrass Parkway in J-town. “Until I started doing this, they were just going in the trash,” Vessels says. He works out of his Germantown home, where he strips each board, or deck, down to its raw wooden state. He peels off the grip tape with a heat gun or by setting a deck in the sun. A razor blade scrapes off the adhesive residue. He sands off any graphics. What’s left is a seven-ply piece of maple wood. Many decks have colorful layers within. “Since the ’80s, (the skateboard industry) has been dyeing the veneers. It’s basically food coloring,” says Vessels, who’s in his 40s. To make a table he needs 25 to 30 decks. 

    “It’s a ton of work,” he says. Some people tell him, “Yeah, but you get the material for free.” His response: “But I’m polishing dirt over here.”

    Visit the Jeremy Vessels Art and Furniture Design website here.

    This originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazine, click here. To find your very own copy of Louisville Magazine, click here. 

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    About Katie Molck

    Loretta Lynn is the best country music singer of all time and if you don't like pickled foods, you can leave.

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