I had a media guy come up to me Sunday evening last year at Nahbs and matter of factly ask, "Who does your paint?"
A bit confused, I responded. "Uhh, I do."
To which he added... "Really? That's odd"
In the ensuing conversation, I found out that of all the exhibitors he had seen that weekend, less than 5 (by his account) not only built but painted their own creations.
My initial reaction...that's really sad. Let me tell ya why.
One of the aspects of building bicycles that I enjoy most is controlling the progression of a project from visualization to reality. Being able to shape the end product into a fulfillment of the customers desires with my own skills is quite satisfying. So I am constantly amazed at the number of builders who don't embrace the same opportunity, instead choosing to end their work at the fabrication stage. Now, don't misunderstand, I'm not getting down on those who do not do their own paint work, just discouraged that more are not sharing in the fulfillment that comes with doing all the work yourself.
So why aren't more guys throwing their own color? Paint is a elegant, artistic, super fun aspect of the build process that enriches the artist and further completes the vision. Conversely, it also has a very steep learning curve, is intolerable of poor technique, is tres expensive, and can be a frustrating process at times.
It also is a terrible time sink...
How often do you see someone walk up to a new bike and comment "Damn, look how tight those miters are?" or "I really like the butted tubing used on this frame". Yeah, I know, it just does not happen. Often the first thing to catch someones attention is the paint on the frame. A good painter can make a turd attractive, and conversely, a beautifully constructed frame can be lost in a poorly applied finish. This is where the time sink comes in. I often spend as much time on paint work as fabricating the part being painted took. I've botched lots of jobs, resulting in hours of time lost and money literally down the drain. But it's forced me to grow, attain new skills, and excel in uncomfortable directions...and I've still got a long way to go.
I suppose there are lot's of factors to consider, both for and against doing your own work; time, expense, skill sets, environmental concerns, interest, quantity of products produced. I don't know, just kinda rambling as I'm pretty tuckered out.
Paint...I like it. Wish more guys would give it a shot, literally :)
So anyhoo, I got started on lots of paint today. Just to show ya what goes into one finish, here are all the liquid supplies for Jay's Bigwheel.
Them thar are lots o' cans my friends. Each one has a specific purpose. You got your primer, your catalyst, your reducer, your base color, your highlight color, your translucent colors, your clear, your hardener...the list goes on. Knowing what to do with all this stuff is really what matters.
So today, I began work on 4 frames, 3 forks, and 11 bars. All of them needed a minimum of 3 primer coats, each baked and sanded between coats. That pretty much filled up the day's activities. Spray, bake, sand, repeat. Here's a bake box full of goodies...Goyo's and Jay's frames.
Goyo's frame after sanding...ready for the next trip to the booth.
In between sessions in the booth, I had lots of deliveries. Here are some of the goodies that arrived.
I also grabbed a few minutes and pulled the material for Steven's Klunker 29er. Most likely will start on this when I get back, as I want it to have my full attention and due diligence. I had hoped to have it done for the show, but it will be better for both of us if we wait.
I got some bad news today as well. I finally heard from Bill Grove after an uncommon absence. Seems he tore his rotator cuff in his shoulder, ironically, working out to strengthen the area. He's been down with a broken wing the last week and lost some more time on the cranks. As terrible as he feels, I think I feel worse. You see, I encouraged Bill to reintroduce the Hot Rods as his desire to step back into the building scene was eating him up. We both figured this could be a project that would allow him to work at a measured pace in the evenings, enjoy the time in the shop, and leave everybody with a warm fuzzy feeling. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Multiple sub-contractor errors have cost mucho time and money, living the dual life of bread winner and builder has been very stressful on Bill, and now he's physically broken to boot. I wonder if everybody would be happier if I'd never suggested the idea. On a positive note, both Hubby and I have offered to step in to help get the project wrapped up and it looks like that will be happening in the coming weeks. So, for everyone who has waited oh so patiently, I ask that you give it a bit more time, and hopefully we'll get some product out in April.
See ya tomorrow,