Sunday, May 1, 2011

Love, Love, Love: Bicycle Head Badges

If you asked my grandfather or dad what they loved to do most on the weekends when I was growing up, they would have unanimously replied: bike riding. Both of them belonged to local touring groups. My grandfather ran a bike club when he taught high school ages ago, and many of his students grew up to be bicycle enthusiasts and professional riders. If my grandfather and dad weren't riding, they were fixing bikes.

My grandfather's basement was a meeting place for his local rider friends to custom make wheels or oil up a chain. Rows of wheels and frames hung from the ceiling and deflated bike tubes were found in every corner of the room. Everything seemed to be dingy and sticky. Spare parts littered the floor, spilled on top of an old ping pong table, and the mix of cigarette smoke and grease gave it an old factory smell.

I have fond memories of zipping through Connecticut country roads with my grandfather and dad. I can recall taking an especially long ride with them atop the banana seat on my one-speed Huffy Pinwheel decorated with E.T. stickers. The best part was stopping for a celebratory Yoo Hoo and chicken fried potato before heading home.

My grandfather and dad had great dreams of me becoming a professional bike rider. For my 16th birthday, they proudly presented me with a custom-made touring bike. After the initial disappointment of it NOT being a car, I learned to appreciate the workmanship and love put into my gift and ended up using it for years to come. Though I didn't grow up to love bikes as much as the patriarchs in my family, I was certainly around the gears and grease enough to feel that cycling was really part of my life. It's no wonder that a bicycle part found its way into my work.

Last summer, I was thrifting with my friend Grace at Goodwill and we were both peering through the jewelry case for treasures. While scanning the shelves, I totally overlooked a great find. Grace called me over to point out an interesting looking metal badge. I was about 3 inches long, was stamped out of brass, and had the name "Dunelt" on it. Once removed from the case, Grace pointed out the possibility in the piece. It's funny because I didn't even realize what it was used for until I went home and did a search online. It was an old head badge, used to display the brand of the bike on the front of its frame.

Tour de Chance Necklace
I carefully flattened out the curve of the badge. The three screw holes provided perfect spots to add the necklace chain and a dangling tassel. I found complimentary vintage chains and a tassel from deconstructed necklaces and a few accent beads from a broken bracelet. The piece came together quite intuitively and I ended up naming it, "Tour de Chance." After a few weeks up on Etsy, the necklace road off to a loving home. 

Since then, I have been on the lookout for more head badges. I am in the process of upcycling a unique collection of them into one-of-a-kind necklaces. They range in age (1930's-current) and country of origin (Japan, Sweden, France, Germany, US). My favorite is a Marathon head badge from Sweden with an embossed running man, gorgeous green paint, and elaborate cut outs. There's another one coming in the mail soon that has "Perfekt deLuxe" written on it. Love! The badges are as light as air and create a great focal point for a necklace. 

near perfekt
When I'm done, I'll certainly sit back and enjoy a Yoo-Hoo in honor of grandpa and dad. To see the completed pieces, pedal on over to these upcoming shows:

Friday and Saturday, May 6th & 7th – Twist – Northampton, MA
Saturday, May 21st – Shop the Archway – DUMBO – Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, June 26th - Smith Street Sunday Fun Day - Brooklyn, NY

Saturday, July 9, August 6, August 13 - Greenway Open Markets - Boston, MA

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