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Meet the BikeCrafters: Makeshifter Canvas Works, Velo Gioielli, and Filmed by Bike

Posted by on November 8th, 2017 at 12:39 pm

In case you haven’t heard, Portland’s bike-centric holiday gift fair is back! BikeCraft 2017 is December 15-17 at the Bike Farm (1810 NE 1st Ave.)

This year our friends (and BikeCraft veterans) at Microcosm Publishing have taken over the reins and it’s sure to be one of the best ever.

If you’re new to all this, BikeCraft was a simple idea I had back in 2005 to bring people together and celebrate Portlanders who make bicycle-inspired arts and crafts. Seeing so many beautiful, fun and talented people come together on a cold winter night that first year remains one of my fondest memories.

12 years later I couldn’t be happier that one of my most trusted friends and former colleagues, Elly Blue, is co-organizing the event along with veteran BikeCrafter Brian Echerer (see below) and Microcosm Publishing founder Joe Biel. You probably know Elly from The Portland Society, her writing and publishing, or her two dozen successful Kickstarter projects. Elly is currently co-owner and marketing director at Microcosm.

With just over a month until the big event, we want to introduce you to this year’s vendors. Elly has written up short interviews and we’ll be posting 3-4 at a time. Here’s the first roundup featuring: Becky Newman of Makeshifter Canvas Works, Brian Echerer of Velo Gioielli, and Ayleen Crotty of Filmed by Bike.

Makeshifter Canvas Works – Becky Newman (website)

Becky Newman is a first-time BikeCraft vendor based in Portland. She makes colorful canvas bicycle bags and panniers that are beautifully designed and built to take a beating on a long distance tour.

How did you get started?
I taught myself to sew in high school, and for years I up-cycled clothing and outdoor gear I found at thrift stores. When I started bike touring a few years ago, I didn’t find any bike bags that matched the style and function I was looking for, so I experimented with making my own bags, and toured with them down the Oregon coast and on the Oregon Outback. I started making bags for friends, and friends of friends, and business took off from there.

Why is making bicycle bags important to you?
Making bike gear is my way of making a a small but meaningful dent in the bike industry–a dent that combats the racer-centric, male-dominated elitist culture that is pervasive in most of the industry. Ultimately I think riding bikes is good for communities, the environment, and personal wellness, and in offering everyday bike gear I hope to encourage people to ride more and to feel more welcome in the bike world. The materials and the design of my bags are meant to say hey, riding a bike is fun, you can carry whatever you want with you and look stylish doing it–you don’t need the fastest/lightest/newest whatever to ride a bike. It’s okay to ride slow and have a pretty, colorful bag.

What do you love about this work, and what are your goals with it?
I love working with my hands, and challenging myself to learn new things, and also riding bikes and using my gear, which is essential to my job. My favorite thing about my work is that it’s so multi-faceted, so I can throw myself into a task like sewing, and then switch to bookkeeping, or sketching and designing, or market research. I never get bored. Currently I’m writing a business plan and chasing down resources so that I can move Makeshifter out of my home, and expand to a workspace where I can also offer workshops and community bike events. My long-term goal is to grow Makeshifter to impart its greatest positive impact on the bike world while maintaining its identity as a small and thoughtful company.

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Velo Gioielli – Brian Echerer (website)

Brian Echerer is one of our co-organizers for BikeCraft this year. He stepped up to help because his success at the 2009 event is what launched the business that he now runs full time—a genuine BikeCraft success story!

What’s your bike craft?
Cycling themed art and jewelry.

How did you get started?
I starting making spoke bracelets to help pay for the MeetUp group Butts On Bikes I was running. Soon after I saw a posting for BikeCraft and asked my mom if she wanted to have some fun and make cycling themed jewelry with me as she was making jewelry already. After that first BikeCraft 8 years ago was somewhat of a success, I applied for Portland Saturday Market where I spent the next 5 years honing my skills and wares. This progressed to making upcycled art using bike parts and stained glass.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I love seeing bike parts as a medium for art. The more art it becomes the more I can sneak some “bike” into someone’s home as art. I also love to travel and show my work as it’s something I never would have guessed I would ever do. It’s now grown again having a space at Alberta Street Gallery where I can show my work 7 days a week.

What’s your biggest challenge with it?
The art business, and having any small business, is a challenge all in of itself. The business deals with all the same challenges as any small business, not enough time, money doesn’t come fast enough and goes out faster than you want. There are positive tradeoffs for these challenges and I always work to stay positive and optimistic.

What does bicycling mean to you?
This is a great question! I have asked myself this for a very long time and I never could quite put my finger on why cycling spoke to me. That is until I read Tim Krabbe’s “The Rider”. There was the answer for me, “Oh, to have been a rider then. Because after the finish all the suffering turns to memories of pleasure, and the the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is Nature’s payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering.” There is more to the passage, but this is what spoke to me and why I do it. It is about getting outside of yourself, the challenge, the nature and the reward in a quality of life that a self propelled machine can provide.

Filmed by Bike – Ayleen Crotty (website)

Filmed by Bike has been involved in BikeCraft for many years, touting multi-media cultural collaborations.

What’s your bike craft?
Curating the world’s best bike movies and working with filmmakers from all over the world is our jam. Filmed by Bike is touring globally right now and our signature Portland festival isn’t until May. So to tide over all you bike and film lovers, we thought we’d come hang out at Bike Craft with our super-soft t-shirts, film advice, exciting news about what’s to come for 2018 and how to get involved.

How did you get started?
I absolutely love that Filmed by Bike is on tour worldwide. We’re able to give our filmmakers a much broader audience and these touring shows are being used as fundraisers for super cool projects, like keeping youth bike programs operating. But Portland is how we got started. The spirit of Portland, our creative bike culture, our city’s try-anything attitude. YES YES! I can’t imagine this festival coming of age in any other city. Thank you, Portland, for 15 awesome years!

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I love building community through creative projects. It’s pretty incredible to chat with filmmakers who live all the way across the globe and find that, even while we may speak different languages we share a common language around our passion for bikes. I’m often humored by our email exchanges; filmmakers sometimes apologize for not speaking (typing) English well, and I’m so humbled because I can barely speak another language. And really, they’re speaking just fine.

What’s your biggest challenge with it?
We want to bring Filmed by Bike to even more cities in 2018! We films toured to about 30 locations in 2017 and we want to double that number in 2018. We know that when bikers tell other bikers about Filmed by Bike the momentum spreads quickly.

What does bicycling mean to you?
I am drawn to biking because of the community around it, and that’s a community focused on freedom, health, thriftiness and a respect for the environment. I dig all of that.

I’d also like to ad that I think Bike Craft is such an incredible event that also builds community. I love seeing all the makers come out, admiring their handiwork and chatting with fellow bike people. It’s so rad and the perfect way to spend the winter season!

———

We agree Ayleen! And can’t wait to see you there.

Thank you Elly for these great Q&As. For more details and a full list of vendors, check the official BikeCraft website and stay tuned.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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3 Comments
  • Jim Lee November 8, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Go Ayleen!

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  • Middle of the Road Guy November 9, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Rumor has it the mythical BUM.EASE pillow will be sold by Maria this year.

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  • 9watts November 12, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Very excited for this. I still have and use my helmet-strap-ear-muffs by Gigi I bought way back in 2011. And I see she is back/still on the roster this year.

    Thanks everyone!

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