You have got to train and train some more

1 09 2011

I think most people would take it as a given that you have to physically train to be an athlete.  One cannot get physically fit once in their lives and then hope to perform for future events without consistent training.   Another aspect we all take for granted is that one has to work on building new skills or working on the stuff that does not come naturally to them.   If a basketball player has amazing skills with layups but cannot free-throw well it makes sense that you would practice a lot more on the weak part of your game and not the strong one.

The very same is true of craft.  In this case framebuilding.    It takes practice and consistent training to grow as a craftsmen.   It is not enough to be very good at part of it and ignore your weak points.   One should study then practice new skills that will make one a better crafts-person.

Sadly though I see this very problem all too often within the framebuilding community and it is also perpetuated by the consumer themselves.

Everyone starts as a beginner, that is to be expected.   Then there is the period of learning.   You soak up everything you can read and practice.   Your muscle memory begins to develop and your work gets better by leaps and bounds.   A lot like bike racing where an athlete with talent moves up the ranks quickly and then seems to  peter  out when the going gets really tough the same thing happens to crafts-people.    I am not sure why.  Either they are not capable of more, or they feel that is good enough.    These are the types who would often say ” I have been doing it this way for X years and it is good enough for me”.   They don’t practice anymore, they don’t look for new and better solutions, they don’t seek out new skills to add to their existing repertoire.

Customers are also guilty of this.   I know it may come as a shock to some but I do not know how to do everything, I am constantly learning.   Painting  is good example of this for me.   I started the process of learning how to paint around 2006.   Many of my customers expected that two weeks of private instruction would make me a master of bicycle frame painting.   Five years later I am just to the point where I feel confident that I can tackle most anything you throw at me and even though I would be confident I could do it, I still know I have a long way to go.   I train with my painting.   By that I mean I paint more than bicycle frames that come in for service or my own work.   In order to be a good painter you have to…wait for it….PAINT!   I paint everything I can get my hands on.   My motorcycle, my car, the mailbox etc.  On weekends I practice airbrushing or mix a new color or make a panel.   How would I know what could be done unless I try it?  How will I be able to offer my customers something really neat unless I have experimented with it in the past.

So, what I am getting at here is that the time involved with building a bicycle or for that matter a guitar, chair or wonkywonderburple from Dr. Suess is not just the time you use to make it, its the time that you trained to get there.  It’s the time that you practiced and learned and read and failed.    A concert given by a violinist is not one hour at the music hall that you paid for but the thousands, maybe 10’s of thousands of hours that went into that one hour.    A great bike frame is not 300 dollars in raw materials and 16 hours like some think it is.   To me it’s the culmination of all the years that went before, all the knowledge and all the hours, dollars and setbacks. Only after all that effort,consistent training and practice will you be able to make something really great.


Alloneword…Cycling Caps

4 07 2011

Hey, you know every once in a while you come across something so good you just have to tell people about it.

One of those this is Cycling Caps made by Mary at Alloneword.

The caps are great!  Super easy to deal with and comon!  personalized envelopes?  over the top but it won’t probably come as some surprise I think this…..SUPPORT your  local or semi-local crafts-persons!!

Gorgeous student made bicycle!

2 06 2011

I just got some pictures of a student bicycle that was built here earlier in the year.  He got it built up and sent me some pictures.  Wonderful work and shows what someone can do with a little help and some determination.   The finish is electroless nickel plate and I am very proud of his finish work.  Clean brazing and great lug filing/edging.

Let the pictures speak for themselves….

The Future…

18 03 2011

A friend of mine does these “de-motivational” based posters which are a crackup.   What is old is new again…

Recent frame students

16 03 2011
IMG_5471 by dbohemian
Been working with some frame students, they all did great work!

My first female frame student and a 100% KVA stainless steel frame with lugs.

A nice commuting frame.

My calling…

5 12 2010
I think I finally figured out what I was to do with my life…

I want to be a “mixologist”.

Yes, it’s mixology for me, I’ve been inspired, and it’s what I want to give back to the world. So for the past little while I’ve been making all the preparations (google) and undertaking the training and what not (google) to make it all come together. Not too sure about the history of the school of knowledge, “mixology”, or it’s place amongst the other grand human endeavors — physics, anthropology, philosophy.  When I told my dad I was studying to be a mixologist (google), he looked at me as if I had expressed an interest in becoming Optimus Prime.

Yeah a “mixologist” is what I want to be.

No; not a bar tender. A MIXOLOGIST. It’s a real thing that you have to train to become (google).  I assure you, it’s definitely not some utter, utter bullshit that someone made up as a fake thing like five minutes ago, definitely not.

This is my calling my friends and yes I am available to work in your club.  I rely on my intensive training (google) in the craftsmanship and artistry of creating alcoholic beverages — beverages that only I know how to make, like a gin & tonic or a vodka & tonic.

I amass all these special concoctions on a list — a “cocktail list”, if you’ll let me throw some industry jargon at you.  Then I tailor it to the branding, image, and corporate identity of my client club.  I rename the gin and tonic to make it like a pun on your club’s name or if you don’t want a series of puns we can say something like “the signature cocktails”.
The main thing is the artistry in getting together (google, google, google) a really specific list of drinks (goooooogle) that is definitely not the same shit that everyone else has… that’s MIXOLOGY, my friends. That’s my calling…

Mokume wedding rings

11 10 2010

Well, I have been working on a ton of stuff.  But that is just bicycles….Kind of old hat for me.  This was fun! and since I am getting married, timely.

Mokume Gane is translated as wood grain metal in Japanese and is an ancient technique that was often used on swords.   Here is my attempt.  I would very much like to practice more with this. It was a lot of fun and has a ton of possibilities.

Start with this:

Layer up the cake…

Bake at 1400 degrees for an hour….

Add some frosting and Bingo, rings….