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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Vine Art Center

The Vine Arts Center in Minneapolis is having a show of handbuilt bicycles as art. I know two of the participating builders and have the highest admiration for their skill and craftsmanship. I think that many crafts when taken to a top level become art.

Below is a naked Chris Kvale frame, waiting for paint. In the background some of the paint samples can be seen. When these bikes are painted they are primed, painted, decaled, and clearcoated. This involved a lot of sanding and multiple coats all as thin as possible, to allow the lug workmanship to show. The better frames are painted with epoxies, more utilitarian frames powdercoated.

The joint where the tubes intersect is reinforced with a cast "lug" which is shaped and thinned down by hand filing and sanding. The oval caps are pieces of tubing which are reversed to cover an oblong hole cut on the top of the small tubes (seat stays). The oblong hole in the top tube is a thin steel tube which runs through the top tube. When the bicycle is built up the rear brake cable will be inserted through it. On poorly crafted frames the joints are crude; those by a master are graceful and everything flows together smoothly.


Old Nevermore said...

As you know, I am surrounded by "rock star" frame builders here in Portland, but your man Kvale does the finest lugwork I've ever seen.

Really something beautiful there. You have two?

Gunnar Berg said...

TWO! (2) And they ride soooo sweet.

Mark Stonich said...

I was at the show, twice it was so good. Everyone else's work I could look at and say to myself "It might tale me 5 times as long, but I could do that.". But not what Chris does. He's da man!!

When I built my 1st frame, 30 years ago, I was storing a Kvale for a friend who had gone into the Peace Corps. To get to my work area I had to pass the Kvale. Often as not I'd look at the bike and realize that I'd never be that good, get depressed and go back upstairs and watch TV.

Jonny Hamachi said...

Ahhh, Minnesota