James first met Hannah and Justin Floyd at last year’s DO Lectures in West Wales, where they were part of the team of volunteers helping the event to run smoothly. Hannah and Justin are from Buckfastleigh in Devon, a town that was once the centre of a thriving woolen industry but which has since declined as demand for the coarse wool of upland hill sheep to make carpets has fallen when the local factory closed. Much of that wool is now considered an almost worthless by-product of sheep farming, and might otherwise have to be burnt. Hannah and Justin are designers, and sought a new use for this waste product; their solution was Solidwool, a composite material combining the coarse wool of Herdwick sheep with a bioresin to produce a material with similar properties to fiberglass.
Solidwool’s core range comprises some beautiful furniture pieces – a moulded chair and a gorgeously minimalist side table – but they also collaborate to find new and exciting uses for their material; handles for knives made by Ben at Blok Knives, glasses frames, and wax combs for our friends at Finisterre. James and Justin got to talking about surfboard fins, and curiosity got the better of them. Justin sent some small offcuts of their 6mm thick sheet material up to us over the winter, and last month James worked with Paul and Bro at Diplock Phoenix (the glass-masters who laminate our surfboards) to produce a prototype single fin from Solidwool, which he then took with him to Ireland to test-ride.
This project is still in its early stages, but we’re all hoping that at some point we’ll be able to turn some of Justin and Hannah’s offcuts into a run of limited edition Otter x Solidwool single fins. We’ll keep you posted.