Wax the Coping: Andy Vasquez' Curved Parking Blocks
For the past year or two, I kept seeing these really rad curved parking blocks popping up in my Instagram feed. Then a few months ago, a buddy of mine, Dan Pensyl, posted a photo of one chilling in his driveway. "You know the dude that makes those?" I asked him. "Yeah," he replied, "Andy Vasquez." And that's all I needed to track Andy down on the Internet and harass him for a bit. —Michael Sieben
What was the inspiration for the curved parking block?
The way the curved parking blocks came to be was that I was thinking of making a mold for a regular parking block for a DIY spot and thought, "If I'm going through the trouble of making this, why not jazz it up a little?" But the inspiration for the thought that led to that thought could be given to Jason Adams, John Lucero, Natas, Tom Knox and everyone else who's made parking blocks look fun and every bank to parking block on planet Earth. And I'll throw Pontus Alv and Malmö in general in there because I was really hyped on Steppe Side and the Train Bank spot I saw in In Search of the Miraculous. That was the kind of stuff I wanted to try to make with my friends.
Feeble. Photo: Max Zahradnik
Had you ever made a parking block before? If not, how'd you go about figuring out how to do it?
No, I had never made a straight one and still haven't. I made some concrete molds in college and in the internship I did after college—I got the gist of how to make molds. Essentially, you make a vessel of any kind and don't let water leak out. The hardest part with the curved parking block mold was figuring out how to cut the beveled radius.
How many have you made to date? Do you sell them?
I think 75 now. Yes I sell them but not usually. Mostly because it's a bummer that they can't be shipped. That's why I make the little miniature salesman sample-type ones. It's a way to have a little part of the project and contribute to blocks being made and dropped off at spots. But I have been thinking lately about putting it out there that I'll make them to order. Fuck it, I'll announce it here: $65 for one, $110 for two. Anyone can email me at [email protected] I can deliver them around eastern PA, Jersey and NYC (with a little gas money thrown in). But they can't be shipped unless someone wanted a pallet of them.
So do you mostly just make them and leave them at spots?
Yeah. Usually the places aren't too random. I usually leave them at skateparks or DIY zones in nearby cities. Although, I'm always looking for parking lots where there is one block missing in a row. That get's me so psyched. I try to make blocks and put them in those open spaces when possible.
Have you had any celebrity clients yet?
I just mean skateboarders that the average kid would have heard of.
Dan Pensyl and Rob Gonyon each have curved parking blocks in their driveways. I hope the average kid has heard of them. Danny Montoya ordered a mini block. Converse bought 30 parking blocks to be distributed at different skateparks in the Boston area. That was my favorite gig to date. That project was definitely a Russ Pope idea. He should be more of a celebrity in the skateboard world, I think.
Hurricane. Photo: Max Zahradnik
How difficult is it to make one of these things? Do you think your average kid could figure it out? How much stuff do you have to buy to get cranking on something like this?
Making the mold is kind of difficult. It's tough to figure out that curved radius, no matter what profile or variety of parking block you fancy. I made mine have the profile with the 45-degree bevel halfway up the block. That's the way most parking blocks are here in Pennsylvania. My first mold was made from plywood, but after I poured 30 of them it started falling apart. I invested in making a rubber mold and that's the way to go if you want to pour something over and over again.
But to return to the question, I don't think the average kid could do it because most kids wouldn't have the attention span for it. I know I didn't ten years ago. Making a straight block mold is straight forward and you could bang it out in a few hours. When there's radius's at play and every edge needs to be water tight, it takes some time and you've really got to stick with it through some headaches and brain farts. But if you want to take it on, first thing you want to do is figure out what type of mold you want to make. I now prefer making rubber molds, but the rubber to make a full parking mold is around $200, and I know that will scare away some people. If you're going to make a wood or melamine mold, you'll need a jigsaw, miter saw and drill at least. Also, if you're going to do this, make up your own shape or do something to make it your own. I'm not saying the curved parking block is off limits; I'm just saying do something new that's your own thing. Do something with it that's original to you. Mine isn't perfect. There's a lot I'd like to change about mine and I'm working on new shapes of parking blocks now. But do something original. Make your dream parking block or whatever else you can pre-fabricate away from the spot. Make something that doesn't exist in the world yet.
Did you ever consider putting rebar holes in your blocks just for aesthetics?
Ha! Yes. That's the one thing that bums me out about mine when I put one in a row of straight blocks. My next shape will have holes in it.
Do you have plans for making other shaped parking blocks in the future?
Yeah. Working on a hump parking block now. After that I'll make a ski jump parking block and a bunch of different ones after that. Every time I make progress on the hump block I get slammed with real work that I have to get finished. So it works well as a rain dance.
Speaking of real work, what do you do for money? You make furniture, correct?
Yep. Custom furniture and other functional woodworking and cast concrete work. I make smaller home goods like cutting boards and planters too, but that's mostly during the holiday season.
Slappy. Photo: Max Zahradnik
Well thanks for taking the time to talk parking blocks with me, Andy. And thanks for making your scene rad. Keep up the awesome work, sir.
Always been my favorite thing to talk about. And thank you! It's been an honor.
Filmed and edited by Max Zahradnik
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