Challenge Accepted: Unique Pendant Lights from Bike Parts

Until recently, a large majority of my work would be considered by most as “static” art.

Although almost every piece I build has some sort of moving component to them, it is static in terms of its overall function. It sits on a desk or hangs on a wall.

Found object art pendant light fixtures hanging

Finished Pendant Lights hanging in Victory Velo Bike Shop

To quote my Uncle Tom, “It doesn’t ‘do’ anything.” I love all my builds, I truly do, but I’ve been itching to try something new… to me.

Lighting.

This is absolutely not a new or unique idea, but one that has my curiosity.

A few months ago I was given the opportunity I had been looking for.

Dan Tebbs at Victory Velo Bike Shop in Auburn CA had some awesome new counters… slash bar…made for the shop. Amazing steel structures fabricated by Moore Iron and skinned in reclaimed wood with butcher-block tops. Dan was looking for creative, yet simple, lighting with a bicycle and reclaimed theme to hang above said counter.

In the great words of my good friend Tony, “Challenge accepted!

After going over basic measurements and designs concepts with Dan, he left the rest of the creative process to me. I sourced a selection of reclaimed bike parts.

First, I found some chrome steel wheels in varying sizes. Also I had obtained vintage styled pendant light sockets and cloth-covered wire. To get the socket to connect to the lamp “shade” I found a bicycle disk brake rotor that it fit through. This rotor served as the starting point for the whole design.

Out from the rotor I welded a carefully selected arrangement of cogs
from a bicycle cassette. These cogs met up to a child size steel wheel, that of which they were welded.

Found object art pendant light from bike parts

Rotors, Cogs and Rims

Now that the main structure was sorted, it was time to add some size. I cut up several of the adult sized steel wheels into sections. These sections where then welded to the initial smaller wheel as downward supports. Lastly a larger rim was welded to bottom of the supports.

At this point I repeated the above steps and had two really rad chrome lampshades!

I wired up the pendant light sockets with the cloth wire and headed to the shop. I feel very fortunate that I was given the chance to help install these light fixtures. Seeing them come to life for the 1st time, was truly gratifying.

A huge thanks to Dan for the opportunity! Stop by the shop and check them out if you’re in the area.

Oh, and keep your eyes on this page, I’m already looking for that next found object art lighting project!

Permanent Cards – Personal & Forever

One of my favorite art pieces to make are Permanent Cards.

I have always searched for greeting cards at unique stores hunting for the one that I think will have the greatest impact on the person I’m giving it to.

Unique Permanent Metal Greeting Cards

Unique Permanent Metal Greeting Cards

It was not the words inside I hunted for, although I feel preprinted words can be clever; they lack a personal and intimate message to the recipient.

I only purchased blank cards, as it was the cover art I was after. An image, painting or symbol that I felt would make whom I was giving the card, laugh from the gut, or smile from the heart.

I felt then, and still do, that personal words are of far greater value than printed ones a few thousand people could purchase over the counter.

Mothers Day a few years ago I was on this quest for a unique card.

After several stops I just wasn’t finding what I was looking for. Drawing a card for my mother was out of the question as she is a very accomplished pencil and paint artist…me? Not so good. For some reason I was stuck on a card. While standing in my garage I figured I’d try and make her something. After years of building cars, bicycles and motorcycles, I had all kinds of metal parts around. I spied a piece of scrap sheet metal I had, and the lightning struck! Make a card of steel!

Mother's day permanent metal art cardThis 1st card was admittedly basic, but I’ve always strived for a “less is more” attitude with my builds…art to cars. Randomly, I had a piece of pink bicycle chain (sometimes I don’t know where I get this stuff!) and I welded it in the shape of a heart to the cover. In another pile of items I had an old cabinet hinge, found some hardware and viola… the 1st Permanent Card was born!

Inside was blank…just the way I like it. This way I was able to write my mom a personal message with a paint pen.

Custom commissioned permanent metal art cards

Custom commissioned permanent metal art cards

Since this 1st Permanent Card, I have gone on to make many more. Some have been artistic designs I’ve created and others have been custom commissions from clients.

The wide variety of events I’ve been asked to create these metal art cards for has been a bit surprising. Guys birthdays and weddings, sure, but I’ve now done several for men to give to their wives for anniversaries and even to recent mothers as baby welcoming cards! I never suspected that when I started this, but it is awesome!

I love a new challenge!

I’ve always liked repurposing things, rebuilding things and appreciating the way stuff used to be made…to last. In a throw away society, I enjoy making art and these cards from steel in a fashion that they will be durable and timeless.

You know I like to make things move…take a look at this unique Permanent Card with a money holder and art that moves on the cover.

Personalized Valentine's Day Unique Permanent Metal Art Card

Personalized Permanent Card – One of a kind!

The fact that these cards won’t get crumpled up and thrown away makes me smile. My hopes are that they are placed out for all to see for years to come.

A meaningful card with a personal message and art piece in one package!

Check out Facebook for videos of Permanent Card movement and new examples as they are added over time.

 

Where does your Found Object Art come from?

When talking with people about my work, there is one question I get asked on a fairly consistent basis: “Where do you get these found objects?”

It’s a straightforward question, yet there is not a straightforward answer. All artists need medium with which to create, like a painter needs paint and a sculptor needs clay; I need parts.

Car parts, motorcycle parts, tractor parts, bicycle parts

Although there are many arts and craft stores of all varieties around the world for paints and clay, found object medium is often just that…found. As I’ve noted before, creating this type of art started with my family deciding we should not buy gifts for Christmas one year, but make gifts.

Amongst the bins and boxes of car, motorcycle and bicycle parts of past projects in my garage I “found” the medium I needed to create those pieces. I had quite a lot of parts, but not all of them where done with their usable life as they were intended, so soon the stash ran low and the hunting began!

Bicycle parts and more…

Still being very involved in the cycling industry myself, it has been easiest to obtain worn out bicycle components… as you may notice by their presence in my work.

But, without revealing my sources, many other long-term relationships yield medium. Such as my connections in the motorcycle industry, some in repair, some in salvage and some in building. Chains, sprockets, rods, springs and upon occasion I will even obtain an engine or two to tear down and harvest the goodies inside for medium.

Not all of the bits I get are two wheel based, I have friends in the automotive, 4×4 and tractor repair industries. These relationships account for a lot of the larger gears, chains and of course…those huge bearings! I love all the parts I get the chance to obtain, but tractors use some really awesome bearings. Since I like to make everything move, these are very welcome editions any time I get the opportunity!

The hunt for parts

The sum of my medium does not come from these sources alone. I still have to, and love to, go hunt for medium. I generally skip over antique stores…for multiple reasons. I enjoy garage and estate sales and the occasional flea market most. It’s like treasure hunting! So many times I’ve found a unique item while hunting and it’s sparked a completely different type of build!

I’m the found object

Andy Clark - Custom Metal ArtistOther times I’m the found object. I’ve had people hear what I do and bring parts to me. This is always exciting!

I’ve had people bring me everything from boxes of old nuts and bolts to helicopter turbine components! I’ve showed up at the shop to mystery boxes or buckets of random bits in the driveway, all of it’s potential medium.

You never know what you are going to find, or what finds you, and that is what makes found object art so fun and creative, everything could be medium!