Monday, August 25, 2014

Bicycle Inner Tube Jewelry: Tour de France

The "Tour de France" wristlet

The third creation fashioned from a single bicycle inner tube. (Scroll down or follow this link — bicycle inner tube — to see the earlier two projects.) This wristlet was made by slitting vertically along one of the inner tube ribs and opening the tube out flat. A search through a button collection surfaced a handful of alphabet buttons and a vintage button depicting the Eiffel Tower. The image is on paper covered by a dome of celluloid.

Click to enlarge

After cutting off a length that easily circled my wrist with a little left over, the ends were rounded off. The "Z" button on one end serves as an actual button to fasten the wristlet. A small slit on the other end cut with an Exacto knife serves as a buttonhole. Happily, the cut doesn't travel or widen no matter how much pressure I apply when buttoning the piece.

Buttonhole slit

The final wristlet in action:



The gorgeous vintage button that makes the piece

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bicycle Inner Tube Textile Patches

Bicycle inner tube cut-outs on recycled shirt

An alternative title for this piece might be, "How to Hack a Villager Shirt." If you grew up in the American suburbs in the late '50s/early '60s and were forced into the lock-step fashion regimen of circle pins, Villager clothing and kilt pins, then you'll understand the desire to tackle a Villager shirt and make it a bit more edgy. This is one of a series of projects all created from a single bicycle inner tube (see Bicycle Inner Tube Jewelry for the first project). Materials: Used Villager shirt from thrift store for $1; section of bicycle inner tube; glue stick; needle and thread.

Original, unembellished cotton shirt

I wanted to do a rabbit-in-the-moon motif (if you view the moon from near the equator, it looks like there is a rabbit on the moon, which has spawned a lot of moon and rabbit related folklore). The first step was to print out a bunch of rabbit, moon, and stars images gleaned through a Google image search. After slitting open the inner tube, I glued the images to the rubber (use a glue stick and the paper just washes right off afterwards) and cut them out. I cut circles out of the scraps.

Cutting out the rubber shapes

Stars and circles were attached with a single "X" stitch. Leaving edges free creates a kind of 3D effect. The rabbits have a couple of stitches up their length to prevent them curling back into the shape of the inner tube.

The finished product: a thoroughly hacked Villager shirt.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bicycle Inner Tube Jewelry

Gingko leaf necklace

The next few posts on this blog involve various experiments, all fashioned from a single bicycle inner tube. I've seen the sort of slashed, punked-out necklaces made out of inner tubes before which have their own Mad Max kind of charm, but I wanted to try for something more delicate.

Materials: inner tube, found red wire

Because inner tube rubber is so pliant and soft, you can not only cut it into fairly intricate shapes you can also sew it — in this case with a darning needle and some found red wire from a spool gifted to me by a friend who knows I like intriguing junk and materials.

Rubber gingko leaves

After drawing leaves directly onto the rubber with a ballpoint pen, I cut them out with a pair of small needlework scissors that enable delicate cutting.

Stitching rubber leaves

Happily, the rubber "grabs" the wire, so you can move the leaves up and down the wire, arrange them where you want, and they'll stay in place.

Sewn leaves

The final necklace is lighter than air. I like using a gingko leaf motif on a recycled materials necklace because the gingko is one tough tree, ancient and able to survive the pollution and vicissitudes of modern urban life. It's a survivor during an era of species extinction.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sixth Extinction Couture: Passenger Pigeons

Passenger pigeon elbow patch

In case you hadn't heard, we are currently in the midst of the sixth extinction. There have been five previous extinction events causing planet-wide species loss. The last, the fifth exctinction, was the one involving the meteor, subsequent Ice Age, and extinction of the dinosaurs. Scientists are predicting that this sixth extinction, caused by man in what is now called the age of the Anthropocene, looks to be more devastating than the fifth. 

Passenger pigeon specimens, Cornell

An early victim of the sixth extinction was the passenger pigeon, once the most abundant bird species on the planet, completely wiped out by us. Passenger pigeons were so thick in the sky in North America that a flock going overhead could blot out the sun for hours. The last recorded pigeon in the wild was shot in 1900. The last in captivity, Martha (named after Martha Washington) died in a zoo in 1914. On this 100-year anniversary, we are introducing the first in the line of Sixth Extinction Couture.

Upcycled Old Navy shirt

Stylish passenger pigeon elbow patches enhance this second-hand Old Navy shirt. The unsightly Old Navy label on the front of the shirt has been over-sewn with an image of passenger pigeon specimens.


Patches and label

There is also a sepia version, with sepia-toned elbow patches sewn onto an old Cotton Basics brown linen jacket.

Sepia elbow patches

Create Your Own Couture
I've included templates below that you may download and print out onto iron-on transfer paper to create your own Sixth Extinction Couture with passenger pigeon elbow patches. When people ask, tell them about Martha.

Template: click to enlarge

Once printed onto transfer paper, cut fairly closely around the images and iron onto cloth (white cotton works best). Then print out the oval patch template below onto cardstock. Place an oval atop your iron-on bird image and use as a template to cut out oval patch. 

Click to enlarge

The Old Navy patches above were done on white T-shirt material and sewn on unhemmed. The sepia version, done on smooth white cotton, was hemmed. Allow a little extra seam allowance around the oval if you're hemming. A strategy: roughly cut out the cloth about 1/4-inch larger all around than the oval. Place oval on cloth, iron around edge over oval template to create even hem and then slip template out.
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