Three-plate spit-bite aquatints, 6 x 6 inches, 2009
From the book Craft: Shaping a Surfboard 2009, eight spit-bite aquatint etchings and letterpress, 17 pages, 13 ” x 12”
The idea of putting words with images to create an interaction between them has always fascinated Dunne. This is her first artist book after years looking for the appropriate text. Dunne’s father, Philip Dunne, was a screenwriter, and her grandfather was Finley Peter Dunne, the political satirist. With this background, she realized that to put words and images together required the right text. She found that text in the writings of Dave Parmenter.
Dave Parmenter is a renowned surfboard shaper, writer, and former professional surfer. He writes personally—and often furiously—about shaping boards, surfing, and contemporary surf culture. In his dedication to his craft, Dunne found something akin to her feelings about her own work. His article in The Surfer’s Journal about shaping a surfboard, with all the considerations that make it function in dangerous situations, is excerpted in this book.
Dunne grew up in Malibu, and her partner of many years, Mark Renneker, is a devoted big-wave surfer. She has lived for years with as many as forty-five surfboards of varying lengths and silhouettes. She is not a surfer, however. But it wasn’t the sport of surfing that caught her attention as being the motive for shaping a surfboard. The craftsmen involved in the task, their tools, and the terminology all fascinated her: the shaper, the glasser, a downrail.
The craftsman holding out against technology and mechanized efficiency is a driving force in the author’s monologue. And the prints evoke the working environment of the surfboard shaper. People involved in fine crafts have more in common than not. Since the industrial revolution began, craftsmen have been skulking around, sensing, and maybe enjoying, impending obsolescence.
Craft consists of blocks of text excerpted from the article “A Shaper’s Fugue,” originally published in The Surfer’s Journal 13:4. Each page of text faces a spit-bite aquatint etching. Each of the eight etchings was created at Eastside Editions in San Francisco. The spit-bite aquatint is a technique of painting acid on an aquatinted plate to produce rich and soft tones. Dunne is well known for her spit-bite aquatints in black and white. In this project, however, she created color prints using multiple plates.
This book is about shaping a surfboard, but it is also a tribute to craftsmen, including those who contributed to the book itself: Dave Parmenter the writer, David Avery the etching printer, Jonathan Clark the typesetter and letterpress printer, and the binder Klaus-Ullrich S. Rötzscher, at Pettingell Book Bindery.
I spent a lot of time nosing around in Dave’s San Luis Obispo shaping-shack when he wasn’t there, ogling the strange tools and stranger claustrophobic space. Then I watched him shape a board and envied his skill. A painting or print does not have to perform physically, as does a board, but the pressure on Dave to create a perfect object, his ability to create this great curvilinear shape out of a hunk of foam that will also withstand the force of a large wave, was humbling.