I love bike art. Anything and everything either featuring a bike (napkins, cards, t-shirts, original prints like the one Mark got for me for my first Ironman), as well as creative repurposing of actual bike parts into new and wonderful things. Last spring I stumbled across a dreamcatcher-esque earring holder at a local art gallery with my mom, and on a closer look, realized it was a bike wheel with old tire tubes strung between spoke holes.
It was the perfect answer to my top-drawer jewelry tangle and ongoing search for a neat and attractive way to store my “dangly” earrings, as I used to call them. (I still remember the first time I was allowed to wear dangly earrings—I was probably 8 years old, and it was a summer evening watching The Wizard of Oz at Winnipeg’s outdoor theatre, Rainbow Stage).
I walked out of the gallery that day with a new pair of earrings made from cut-up bike tubes (which you can see above on the second row down, third pair in from the left—thanks, Mom!) and the inspiration to try my used-to-be-crafty hand at making one of my own.
I’d hoped to find a rejected kid’s bike wheel in a back alley somewhere to give the project real hippie triathlete caché, but my schedule just never cleared up enough for a good dumpster dive. I opted for the decidedly non-hippie thing and asked a friend to order a wheel from the bike shop where he works; a few weeks later I had a pint-sized aluminum wheel to call my own. I already had spray paint from my chandelier project, so with the addition of an old tube, the whole project cost me under $15.
Once you’ve got your supplies, this project can be completed from start to finish in about a day. Hands-on time, however, is probably only about 20 minutes—paint drying time is really the only thing you’ll have to wait for. Simply cut an old, punctured tube lengthwise into pieces as long as you need, and weave the pieces through opposing spoke holes. (Cutting the ends diagonally helps with the threading, and you don’t even need to tie the ends, as they should sit snugly on their own.) You can customize your creation to how many earrings you want to store (get a bigger wheel if you have a large collection), and for longer or shorter earrings. I wove my tubes in such a way that some of the stamped-on markings would show, for authenticity’s sake.
Grab a slightly rusted wheel for a more antique look, or paint your rim a bright turquoise, pink, or gold to compliment your style or powder-room decor. And have fun! It’s the off season. How else are you going to fill your non-training time?