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Meet the BikeCrafters: Straight Gauge Studios, Gigi’s Handy Work, and The People’s Clowns (Olive and Dingo!)

Posted by on December 7th, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Just one week to go!

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.) and it’s powered by Microcosm Publishing.

To get you ready, our friend Elly Blue (Microcosm’s co-owner and marketing director) has been profiling the fantastic people behind the crafts (see the all of them here). Below are the latest three BikeCrafters you’ll get to meet at the big event…

Straight Gauge Studios – Martin Swanson (Etsy/Instagram)

It’s very cool to get to see the work of Marty, another first-time BikeCraft vendor with a completely unique craft that uses bike parts that would otherwise go into the recycling to produce beautiful and functional art.

What’s your bike craft?

I take old bike wheels and recreate them into geometric wall art and pendant lighting. All work is constructed using traditional wheel-building practices.

How did you get started?

I’m a bike mechanic, wheelbuilder, And I don’t like to waste. However, that doesn’t change the reality that wheels do wear out. In 2013, I started aimlessly saving old rims, spokes, and hubs with the hope of bringing some use to them after their life on the bike had retired.

One day, I needed of all things a new recycling bin in my home shop. I took two 20″ rims and configured a way to lace them together into a latticed cylinder. My wife came home and thought that what was made was too beautiful for recycling. Reimagining that cylinder along with spheres, domes, discs, and floral shapes became illuminated and Straight Gauge Studios was born.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?

Having the ability to merge a passion for art, tinkering, and bikes. In addition, my work gives me a unique opportunity to meet other creatives and cyclists from all over the country.

What’s your biggest challenge with it?

My work’s creativity often times spawns a desire for customization. Materials used are sourced from shops all over the city. While plentiful, at times a customer will order a piece that sends me on a wild goose chase looking for a very specific part. Their are no guarantees that I will get it. To avoid this, I try to keep ample supply of parts that allows me to limit my customization to what I already have available.

What does bicycling mean to you?

Bicycling is beautiful to me. Everything from working, riding, and understanding them. I try not to pigeonhole myself into any one style of riding. It’s all awesome in its own way.

Gigi’s Handy Work – Gigi Lascurettes (Website)

Longtime BikeCraft vendor Gigi has the quintessential backstory. She started making her products to serve a personal need, and the market grew organically, including at our fine event. Fun fact: There are two types of people in the world, those who *cannot stand* to have any wind on their ears whatsoever, and those who are fine with that but don’t like it when our ears get really cold. Helmuffs are perfect for all of us, at last creating a point of unity for humanity, or at least for people who wear bicycle helmets.

What’s your bike craft?

Helmuffs! Ear muffs for a bike helmet, reclaimed wool and fleece

How did you get started?

Riding in the winter, a hat was too big and got too hot under under a helmet, but my ears were COLD. I sewed up triangles to cover my ears. Then improved the design. Then friends wanted pairs for their ears. Then my husband’s co-workers wanted their own pairs—and they were offering to pay for them! And Metropolis Cycles, where I was regularly taking my bike for maintenance, was opening a retail case in their shop and wanted local products. So we agreed to place them for sale. Win-win.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?

I get to make something that people can hold and touch and really use. I often get to see the realization on their face when the first see my booth and my Helmuffs and their purpose, and it’s always been a clear show of happy surprise. Plus, I get to add in my personal touches of art and style.

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What’s your biggest challenge with it?

Reclaiming the raw material—wool and fleece sweaters, jackets, and other sources of these essential fabrics. It takes time to dissasemble the pieces, then of course to recut and sew into Helmuffs. Keeping the labor time down is difficult.

What does bicycling mean to you?

It’s a way to escape. When I cycle I can focus on my activity—the speed, my form, my energy, the scenery around me. It’s difficult to worry about too many things at the same time, but also allows me to focus on one mental problem/dilemma. I have a goal on most of my rides, and I get to accomplish those goals.

The People’s Clowns – Olive Rootbeer and Dingo Dizmal (Website)

Every so often, bicycling around town, I’ll see a strange sillhouette in the distance. As I get closer, it resolves into the wonderfully olde-Portland sight of two clowns riding tallbikes, off to a birthday party or, you know, holiday bicycle craft fair. As well as doing one of their all-ages friendly performances Sunday, December 17th at 1pm, Olive and Dingo will be selling their unique merchandise as vendors.

Dingo took the time to answer our interview questions:

What’s your bike craft?

Tall bike clowning

How did you get started?

We always wanted to demonstrate car free living and working. As clowns, tallbikes were part of standard equipment. They became more than eye candy after we discovered the amazing cargo carrying capacity and knack for diplomacy. When the anarchist clown gang got tall bikes, it changed the public’s perception of us. That actually changed who we were. They gave us so much love we couldn’t help but become neighborhood activists. Before that we were mostly into forest defense, anti war protesting and books to prisoners.

Nowadays I’m in a gang of two. We are seen going to our clown gigs on tallbikes. People lose their minds when they see us. It’s so addictive making folks happy.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?

Blowing past stalled traffic while smiling and hauling lots of heavy gear. The worse the weather the more folks in the cars cheer for us as we ride by.

What’s your biggest challenge with it?

Staying a resident of Portland is a challenge. We have a growing landlord to feed and somehow manage mostly by living out of a tip jar. We have been clowns together for 8 years now.I have been a Portland clown for 18 years. I never left a living space because it was my idea. I have always been classed out by giant rent hikes and no cause eviction. That and people stiffing us is the worst but I can’t complain. Folks treat us amazing on a daily basis.

What does bicycling mean to you?

Bitchin bike bod!!!!It’s also a great swipe against the gas machines. I hope we inspire people to ride more. I’m really grossed out by cars. Always have been. My bike is my ride, my office, my ladder, my weapon, my gate, my romance and my life.


Volunteers are needed, please comment or email us if you can help. Also check the official BikeCraft page for more details.

— Elly Blue

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3 Comments
  • Jim Lee December 7, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I make a tacoed rim, twine, cuttings of rosemary, and a string of lights into a nifty and very cheap outside wreath!

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  • Gabriel December 7, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Yay Olive and Dingo! The wheel art and helmuffs look great!

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  • Brian December 8, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Supporting Olive and Dingo is a great way to support many of the things many of us love. Hire them for an event, attend one of their performances (and tip well, of course), etc. They are fantastic people and performers. I miss taking my little dude to see them at the Laurelhurst Cafe. Cheers!

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