Craft Bomb Your Bike!

by Jessie Kwak

If you’re into bikes and crafts, you’ve probably already seen Craft Bomb Your Bike, 20 makes for you and your bike – it’s been getting some great exposure all throughout the internets since it was released earlier this month. I was out of town most of July and my contributor copy arrived while I was gone – so I had to wait in anguish while the everyone twittered about it.

(All right, not really in anguish. I was in Spain because my cousin was marrying a fantastic Catalan man, and I was having far too amazing a time to be thinking about blogging.)

Craft bomb your bike - cover

Now that I get to hold my copy in my hot little hands – and it is HOT right now, isn’t it Portland? – I can say that it’s a beautiful book!

My project is an oilcloth clutch that attaches to your handlebars (long time readers may recognize the hot pink oilcloth). Long time readers will also be totally shocked – SHOCKED! – to find out the straps are made from recycled inner tubes.

Craft bomb your bike - cycle clutch1

The publishers did a fantastic job with the photography and layout – overall it’s a very beautiful book.

Craft bomb your bike - clutch2

I’m a particular fan of this pretty tool roll by Katie of Swim Bike Quilt.

Craft bomb your bike - tool roll

You can get the book through Interweave or Amazon.

The projects are all fairly whimsical and girly – you’ll find things like buntings for your basket*, a crocheted helmet cosy, and embroidered “I love my bike” label.

* Or “nests,” as my new cousin-in-law from Catalunya called them when we went on a ride together last week. “Do you want to rent a bike with a, what is it, a nest?” Yes. I most definitely would love a bike with a nest.

Craft bomb your bike - table of contents

And check out these fun crocheted birds by Kate at Greedy for Colour:

Craft bomb your bike - birds

I don’t care if they’re functional or not – they’re totally adorable. They’ll go perfect on my nest.

Happy crafting!


Pedaler’s Fair crafty fun time

by Jessie Kwak

Hey, Seattle gang! What are you up to this Saturday?

Are you going to Pedaler’s Fair?


Pedaler’s Fair is a marketplace of Washington based, bicycle-inspired small businesses – but it’s way more than that! There will also be live music, workshops, presentations, and a Bicitoro Craft Table for your crafty pleasure.

Check out the schedule of events for everything that will be happening, including Bicycle Yoga, a camp cooking presentation, and a film screening.

I’ll be there from 11-5, hosting a table where you can come get your bike craft on. Come say hello!

If you’re planning on biking there, consider joining up with the Critical Lass Ride, which will be starting at Fuel Coffee in Montlake at 9:30. I’ll be riding along.

Hope to see you there!


Crafting with Inner Tubes is now available

by Jessie Kwak

Okay, all the teasing is over — I’m now officially ready to launch the first-ever Bicitoro ebook: Crafting with Inner Tubes.

Click to read more about it. You can even snag a copy of your own if you want – I won't stop you.

Click to read more about it. You can even snag a copy of your own if you want – I won’t stop you.

I already gushed about it a ton last week and on its sales page, so I’ll spare you much more here.

I’m selling it for $6, but I’ve got a special deal for anyone who’s subscribed to my email list — it’s only $0.99 until April 15. Sign up for the list and I’ll send you the code.

Happy crafting!


Bike craft inspiration: recycled bicycle chains

by Jessie Kwak

Wow, it’s been a minute since I’ve done a bike craft roundup post! (You can find older ones here.)

After making Robert’s magnetic office board, I have a bunch of short pieces of bike chain all clean and shiny and waiting to be made into a project.

I’ve been searching the internets and the Pinterest for ideas to use up these short bits, though I didn’t find a ton of recycled bicycle chain tutorials out there. Bracelets, yes. But bowls and picture frames? How do they stick together—are they welded? Are the pins tightened? Are they glued?

Please, please weigh in if you have any ideas!

Of course, after all that searching for little projects, what I really want to make is this:


Isn’t it fantastic! I saw it in Pinterest and followed links to find out more about it. It was designed by Chandi Lighting and auctioned off as part of a fundraiser for kids in Nepal. It obviously takes more than a couple measly lengths of chain, so I’ll put it on the wishlist for now.

Plus, I need to figure out how to clean a ton of chain more efficiently. Just getting these seven chains clean for my last project was exhausting!

Who’s got ideas?

Bike chain votive holder

bike chain tea lights

I didn’t see any tutorials out there on how to make this, but it seems pretty straightforward. Make chain into circle, times three. Stack. Put votive in. Set apartment on fire. Done.

These are from Uncommon Goods, who carries tons of fun stuff like that. I want to write their product descriptions, they’re so enjoyable! (Call me, guys.)

Bike chain & gear desk lamp

bike chain lamp

I found this on Pinterest with no backlink—and 20 minutes of Google searching did me no good. I found a few other examples of this kind of pulley desk lamp, though also with no real decent context to help me figure out how to make it.

But make it I will, believe you me.

Bike chain bowl

round bike chain bowl

This is a classic—I’ve seen it all over the internets (this one is via Apartment Therapy), and in several bike shops I’ve visited. I’ll have to take a closer look next time to see how it’s put together, because in spite of its internet fame, it doesn’t look like any crafters have taken a stab at tutorializing it.

square bike chain bowl

I found this version on Pinterest, via Jenn Woodham. She made it herself, using chain link clips to stick it all together. Isn’t it lovely?

bike chain box

This amazing box is from seller CitiZenoBjeCts on Etsy. It’s sold out, but they take custom orders, so you may be able to score one.

Bike chain clock

square bike chain clock

There are a few bike chain clocks out there, as well, but this is my favorite! It’s from Ten Thousand Villages.

Bike chain picture frame

bike chain picture frame - Uncommon goods

Again from Uncommon Goods, we have this rad picture frame.

pink bike chain picture frame

This fun pink picture frame is from Terracycle.

Have you ever worked with bicycle chains? What are your tips?


Tutorial: magnetic office board made out of bicycle chains

by Jessie Kwak

With all the moving, etc., I haven’t had time to sink my teeth into a good bike craft project lately—until this week, when I made Rob’s Christmas present.

(I know, Christmas was forever ago! *hangs head in shame*)

Do you like it?

message board made from recycled bicycle chains

As an outside rep, he’ll be working out of his car, and out of our house. Our new place has an extra room we’re using as an office, so I’d planned on getting him something interesting and office-y for Christmas.

I was still racking my brain for ideas when I walked into Arbor Lodge Coffee. It’s our closest neighborhood coffee joint here in Portland, and they have these fantastic boards up for people to post notes on.

They’re all different, but the one that caught my attention was similar to the photo above: strands of bike chains hanging from a board. Magnets are used to pin up colorful notes.

I just had to make one for Rob.

Aside from the elbow grease needed to clean the chains, it’s a really straightforward project.


You need:

  • Seven old bike chains
  • A sturdy board about 4 feet long
  • Small chain rings for decoration (optional)
  • Small screws
  • A scrub brush
  • Degreaser
  • Gloves
  • Strong magnets

Ask around at local bike shops for old chains and chain rings—I got mine at Second Ascent in Seattle. (Thanks, Dave, for letting me root around in the recycling!)

Clean the chains

This was actually my first bike chain project, despite my years of blogging about bikes and crafts. I looked up this guest post from Laura about making bike chain stars, and basically followed her instructions on how to clean the chains.

Bicycle chain board 4

I ended up using one of those green plastic pot scrubbers to polish them up after the degreaser bath, and then I used shop rags (AKA cut up T-shirts) to wipe them down really really good afterwards. The last thing I wanted was grease getting on the walls or Rob’s important papers.

Also—wear gloves! I still have grease under my fingernails.

Prepare your board

I got some gnarly old Douglas Fir fencing from a neighbor in Georgetown, which he promised would look beautiful once it was sanded down and oiled. He was right:

Bicycle chain board

I used a power sander to take of years of weathering and ancient kerf marks, then sanded it by hand with a sheet of fine sandpaper. Once it was to my liking, I applied a couple coats of tung oil to bring out the natural beauty.

Attach the chains

I used a pair of pliers to break apart the chain, popping out the little spacer so that both sides swing loose.

Bicycle chain board 5

I then tried to use a pair of wire cutters to chop off the back link, but to no avail. So I ignored it and screwed the top link on anyway, figuring that it wasn’t that noticeable.

Because you’re attaching the chain so close to the edge of the wood, be sure to pre-drill before putting the screws in.

(This was a fun project for me–years of theater shop class lessons and a funny stint working with a carpenter in Venezuela were all coming back to me.)

Break the chains to length

Or you could do this before you attach them, whichever you like. I did it this way because then as I broke them off I could get an idea of how they hung—I wanted them to be a little uneven, in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Use a chain breaker* to break the chains to about 3 feet—or whatever length you find desirable. I referred once more to Laura’s post on making chain star ornaments for instructions.


Add decorative chain rings as desired, either by screwing them on or glueing, then attach it to your wall. Use magnets to post notes, and viola!

The finished unit will be pretty heavy, so you’ll want to screw it into a stud to attach it.


* “Why do you need the chain breaker? What’s wrong?” Rob asked. My phone started ringing within seconds of sending a text to him asking where it was.

“I’m just playing around with those old chains I got. Making art,” I said. “Nothing important. I found a chain breaker in your tool box.”

“Oh. Good.” A pause. Then, worried: “Which one did you find?”

“One with a blue handle and green tape on it. There were two, but this one looks older so I figured I could use it.”

“It’s not one with a black handle? Because that one’s definitely off-limits to you.”

“Nope. Blue handle, green tape.”

“Good. You remember how to use it?”

“Yup!” Googlegooglegoogle…. “Love you! Bye!”