A Retro Perspective

by | Jun 27, 2013

I have a love affair with the work I do. I adore the process. It’s an ever changing game and one I long ago became used to. Never the same day. Never the same bicycle. And certainly never the same result. I’m charmed by how familiar it feels when I gather a pile of metal and begin a four day journey in whatever direction it goes. Years ago I would wrestle with the material and wonder why it has its own mind. Now, I am comfortable with it and almost look forward to the moment when, after everything is going so right, suddenly the work lets you know what it will be. No matter how many starts I’ve had, and regardless of the hundreds of runs of the various sizes I’ve tooled up for, I’ve never made the same bicycle twice. Even those successive orders from clients demanding a pair of mirror image units – these are not identical twins.

Folks also have a love affair with the work I do. Well, love might be the wrong word, but my bicycles are sought after and for that, I am proud. I couldn’t have landed here, loaded with this bundle of introspection and retrospection without lots of clients. It’s their demand for my work that has enabled my intuition and skills to grow.

Years pass. Things change. My perspective regarding what I do has traveled all the way from considering it a creative endeavor, as in – when a young person sees his trade as a canvass on which to leave his mark – to one of labor. After four decades of evolution and repetition, I can’t control it all. But I do accept the variations, their arrival delights me, and I always concede to them.

People can have a love affair with things, particularly hand-made things, and very often with things made for them by someone they know. I make my bicycles for others. But they are still just things.

Everything we touch has our imprint. What others attach to it becomes their own story. Mine is this. Experience, opinions, and decision making don’t exist in a vacuum. They are the tools we own as well as the material we work with. What I make is mine and mine alone, and the sum total of all that preceded it. A maker’s perception, muscle memory, intuition, and mood contribute more to a finished piece than the pile of stuff he starts with. When it’s all combined, and a commission is finished, the result is unique. It can’t and won’t be produced ever again.