A step by step guide to upcycled velo style.
When a friend’s tire went flat on a bike ride earlier this year, I asked her if I could keep the tube.
“You want my punctured tube?” she asked, with a slight hint of “are you nuts?”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“I don’t know, earrings maybe?”
I had been mulling the idea over for quite some time. Alchemy Goods and Green Guru are known for their upcycled bike tube designs that I have fallen in love with numerous times, and I figured that if they could do it, so could I, at least on a small scale. A few samples later and several friends were outfitted with new earrings.
From afar, these bike tube earrings look like they might even be made from metal, but in actuality they’re flexible and incredibly lightweight, perfect for when you want a pair of statement earrings but want to forgo the weight that’s normally associated with them.
Where do you find bike tubes? Go the standard route and put out a call out to your velo loving friends – a Facebook request yielded about 30 used tubes that an old friend had been saving in his basement for a good project – or ask a local bike shop. Got a tube? Let’s get started.
- Used bike tube
- X-Acto knife
- 2 earring wire hooks
- Jewelry pliers
Begin by prepping your bike tube. Cut the tube open near the valve and then cut straight down the middle of the entire tube.
Because used tubes tend to be a little grimy, wash the tube with warm, soapy water and hang to dry. I find the best way to store tubes once you have prepped them is to roll them up and put a rubber band around them, this way you can easily cut of the right sized pieces for what you’re making and neatly store the rest for future use.
Draw your design on a piece of paper and use as a template to cut out shapes from bike tube.
Because the bike tube will naturally curl, make sure you cut lengthwise along the tube, i.e. in the direction of the natural ridges of the tube and not perpendicular to them.
Cutting lengthwise will keep the leaf from curling upwards and allow it to hang straight down instead.
Once you have cut out your leaf, use the X-acto knife to cut out the center sections. Be creative! Some of my favorite designs that I have ended up come from simply cutting freehand.
When you have cut the first leaf you can follow the same form to do the second one.
Use the X-Acto knife to make a tiny insert at the top of the leaf.
Use a pair of jewelry pliers to insert the earring wires into the hole.
And now you’re ready to sport your upcycled designs all over town!