I've been meaning to write a few words about the upcomming North American Handmade Bicycle Show to be held in Houston. As always, please excuse my spelling and grammer mistakes, as I'm just blasting away at the keyboard. (I know that drives some people nuts, but see my job list below to understand why I don't have time to monkey around.) You may have noticed that I am scheduled to present a seminar on the topic of "Lug Carving", as many have come to call it. Personally, I call it lug modification. I told Don that I will also expand that topic to include the actual important part of working on and finishing lugs; that being the finish filing and schulptureing of the lug surface, either before and/or after brazing to the frame. No matter how hard I try or how many times I say it, people in general focus on "carving" lugs but ignore the finish filing altogether. I cannot stress enough that a simple and elegently well balanced design that has been expertly and artistically finish filed is a FAR GREATER accomplishment than an ornate design to which poor framebuilding skill was applied, or the finish work was skipped and a snazzy paint job is the main attraction. Please don't confuse this statement with someone who is saying one is BETTER than the other. I say no such thing; what I do say is that they are DIFFERENT than one another. I have been asked to demonstrate how to do it "old school" and I will do exactly that. ALL BIKES ARE GOOD! With the proper state of mind, all bikes are wonderful, and fun can be had on anything, TRUST ME ON THIS! But by the same token, the few builders who enjoy or focus on this type of framebuilding must maintain a seperate identity and their work needs to be recognized and appreciated for being different. We have entered an age where tourchbearers build full carbon fiber frames. Since we oftentimes cannot maintain a seperate identity in the media, me must do so at these seminars. This information may (or may not) be of "historical interest" to framebuilders who do not build lugged steel frames. For those who do build lugged steel frames but want to or have to make a living at it, again the information is most likely not going to be of any actual use to you. For those who want to build an "art frame" once in a blue moon or whatever, or the aspiring and/or advanced hobbiest type of person; you may find my demostration interesting and informative. I will make one promise to everyone. I will make the experience both memorable and more importantly, entertaining. That's a promise.
Photos, video tape and/or audio recordings of my performence will remain solely my property unless you are specifically given permission to use or posses it. Permission will be granted to the media and to private parties; but I want to know who has it and what will be done with it. I will have releases available.
Please allow me to indulge everyone by providing an introductory statement about myself and my purpose for attending the first annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Some of you may remember at first I wasn't at all sure what purpose this gathering would serve and of what benifit it might be for a framebuilder in my position. To be perfectly honest, I cannot actually afford to come to this show; not monitarily and not timewise. My "normal day" includes (but is not limited to) answering the phone, unpacking and documenting bikes, stripping frames, sorting for stripping old plating, repolishing for plating, primer and prep, braze-ons and frame repairs, all stages of masking, painting, and detailing, packing and shipping, etc., etc., and all that in addition to trying to build custom one-off frames from scratch. Who's going to take care of all that while I prepare for and attend the show? But from another perspective I simply CANNOT AFFORD NOT TO! Dollars and cents (or sense) aside, I suddenly realized that for one thing my curiousity MUST be satisfyed. Within myself I have been debating wheather or not anyone really has any use for the information I intend to pass along. Is there an actual interest and people who will benifit or use this information? I personally can't decide. Having had a recent phone conversation with my good friend Peter Weigle, who strongly encouraged me to proceed, I decided that his position of "you must present the talk, let everyone else decide wheather it is of any value" is the proper course. There's a lot of time and effort on my part that will be invested in such a production; there is risk here for me, and on more than one front. What I do, what I stand for, and what I wish to address are all pretty much the "lunitic fringe" of both framebuilding and the industry in general. Some of my opinions upon occassion seem to ruffle the feathers of some parts of the industry that are at the opposite end (or sometimes closer than that) of the scale from what I do. I intend to pass judgement on no one, nor upon any bicycle or type of bicycle; my only intention is to open a window into a part of the framebuilding past that I feel represents one of the many high points in the developement and evoloution of the bicycle/bicycle frame. Yes, I do give new meaning to the term "Retro Grouch". But I promise you this; if you fail to detect the sincere passion and depth of my convictions, then either you need to check if you still have a pulse, OR I will have failed misreably at my intentions. If you don't come away with a better understanding and appreciation for what I like to call the "Golden Age of Framebuilding", then I'll eat my shorts.
Hope many of you will attend. As always the OTHER big reason to show up at an event such as this is for HOB KNOBBING with your fellow framebuilders and doing some MAJOR NETWORKING, if you're that sort. I have no expectations whatsoever of pitching my frames per se, not planning on taking any orders, not going to be selling any products. I will bring 3 or 4 of my favorite frames for display on my table (since I'm paying $200 for it) and to use during my dance routine and presentation. Ever seen a framebuilding DINOSAUR juggle 3 bike frames at once? Neither have I!
BTW, I expect this presentation to take between 1 and 2 hours. Or maybe less! Be prepared to hear lots of twisted opinions about the nature of building lugged steel frames by hand. Expect also that I will expound on dropout treatments, seat stay caps, and other aesthetic points related to old school framebuilding. I may even answer some questions, if we have some good ones. "Are you INSANE??" has already been asked and answered. (The answer is "deffinitely maybe".)
Brian Baylis La Mesa, CA Feeling very proud of my new watch today. Got me a Spongebob Squarepants watch at Burger King. $1.99 with the purchase of a combo meal. They can force me to buy the hamburger; but they can't force me to EAT it.