Introduction: Inspiring Muse From a Bike Wheel

About: Maker, Mom & Teacher...
This "A-Muse" has been created... to hopefully amuse, and inspire!

I came up with the idea while working with kiddo's over the summer.  I felt like I had missed an opportunity while we were working in our home made journals.  Suggestions of drawing leaves, each other, or things around them were met with some resistance, and occasionally boredom.  I realized while some of those things are important for artist to explore, the kiddo's were sure there drawings wouldn't look good or accurate.  I realized looking back latter, that I should have tapped in to what i consider their best asset, their imagination, to inspire them.  The A-muse was born.

Spin the wheel, and see what's in store for you today. Hopefully a way to overcome a little bit of "writers block", and if you find yourself hoping it will land on a particular space... well consider yourself inspired, and head on your way. It's made from primarily found, and re-used materials, and my son has already decided it's addicting.  :-)

Step 1: Cutting & Drilling the Wood

Things to gather for this step..
  • 2x4 lumber (about 8 feet total)
  • long screws (12 - 14 of them)
  • wood glue
  • Old bike fork
  • Old bike wheel (sometimes easy to find with the former)

Tools you'll need:
  • Saw of some sort
  • Drill or drill press with 1 inch and 5/16 inch drill bits (the latter corresponding to your screw size).
  • screw driver or bit (to fit your screws)
  • safety goggles (for cutting & drilling)

Cutting the Wood
First I sketched up my concept... and decided I needed the following lengths of wood cut out of the 2x4:
  • one, 26 inch piece
  • one, 17 & 1/2 inch piece
  • one, 9 inch piece 
  • seven,  4inch pieces
And out of a scrap of 1x4:
  • one,  4 inch piece

Drilling the Wood
  • The 3 longer pieces (26'', 17 1/2'' & 9''), and one of the 4'' pieces, as well as the thin 4'' piece all need to be drilled in the center.
  • Mark the center of those boards. (2x4 wood is not actually 4 inches wide, it's 3 & 1/2.... so it's center line is at 1& 3/4.)
  • Measure the diameter of the tube of your fork. Mine is 1'' in diameter (many bikes have a different diameter)
  • Using the 1'' drill bit , drill a hole through the boards you marked the center of. Be sure to line the tip of your bit up with your center markings.

At this point I checked to make sure all the holes would fit the tube of my fork, some were fairly tight, a little wax from a candle made it easier to slip on & off.

Step 2: Screwing & Gluing the Feet

Two of the longer boards need feet... The longest one needs feet that are 2 boards high... and the shorter one needs feet that are 1 board high.  we're going to use the 4 inch pieces that we cut to make the feet.

17 1/2'' board
  • First line up 2 of the 4'' pieces flush with the edges of the 17 1/2'' board.
  • Drill 2, 5/16'' holes in each side (4 holes in total), going all the way through the top 17 1/2'' board and in to the 4''  ones.
  • Apply wood glue to to the 4'' boards.
  • Screw the 18'' board in to the 4'' boards.
26'' board
  • Stack 2 of the 4'' pieces one on top of another to make a tall "foot".
  • Drill holes, glue and screw like you did in the last step.
  • Make another "foot" with another 2 of the 4'' pieces.
  • Stack the 2 "feet" you've made, under the the 26'' piece, flush with the edges.
  • Drill 4 holes (2 on each side) through the top of the 26'' piece in to the feet below... insuring not to hit the screws you put in, in the last steps.
  • Glue the tops of the feet, and screw the 26'' board to them.

The 4'' board & the thin one with a hole through it.
  • These 2 pieces are destined to be stacked one on top of another, on top of the 26'' board.
  • Line the 26'' board, and the 2 pieces that are 4'' long, on top of one another. Glue the pieces together with wood glue.
  • I put the tube of the bicycle fork down through them all, and clamped them together to insure they lined up correctly.  You can drill holes, and screw them together as well once they have dried.

Step 3: Painting the Fork & Wheel

Things to gather for this step..
  • tire levers
  • sandpaper
  • metal primer & paint
  • tape
Take the tire off the wheel
Chances are your wheel came with a tire, we don't need the tire so we'll be taking that off. 
  • Deflate the tire (if it isn't already)
  • Put the tire leaver between the metal rim, and under the edge of the rubber of the tire.
  • Push down, and flip the rubber so it's outside the rim.
  • Using the second lever, about 8 inches away... put it between the metal rim, and under the edge of the rubber of the tire.
  • You should now be able to push the lever away from you, sliding it all the way around the wheel. 
  • It should now be possible to remove the wheel, tube, and strip of tape/fabric from the rim.
Prep the wheel, and fork for painting.
  • clean the wheel, and fork... removing any dirt & dust
  • I like to sand the wheel, and fork a bit, scratching it up and giving it a bit of tooth. Use what ever sandpaper you have kicking around.
  • Tape around places you don't want paint (the hub of the wheel for example)
  • find a good location for painting
  • point & spray
  • I spray painted the wheel with metal primer.
  • Once that was dry I then spray painted the wheel black.
  • multiple light coats works best (but it says that on the can, and you aren't likely to listen anyways... are you? )
  • Allow to dry 

Step 4: Sanding, Painting & Putting the Assembly Together

Tools for this step:
  • sander, or sandpaper & elbow grease
  • acrylic paint
  • paint brushes
  • rag
Sand the wood
I wasn't going for furniture grade finish here, but I sanded it smooth enough for it to have a nice hand. 

Painting the wood
I wanted some of the wood grain to show through, so as I painted the wood, I watered down the paint a little, and using a rag, I wiped off some of the paint after I let it soak in for a few seconds.  I used 3 different blues, to create some color variation as well. 

The wood blocks
  • I stacked the wood blocks... with the center holes lined up.
  • On the bottom is the 9'' piece.
  • On top of it, is the 17 1/2" piece.
  • On top of that is the 26'' piece (with it's little 4'' tower)

Adding the fork
  • I then slid the fork tube down through all of those. (It took a little wax & some patience because the fit was snug.)
  • Each of the long pieces should be able to rotate separately from one another, so as to give the piece some lateral stability.  If one of the pieces does not spin consider shaving off just a bit of it.

Finally the wheel
  • Slide the wheel in to the fork, ( I added the nuts back on in a later stage).

Step 5: Adding the Lights

I wanted to add some LED's for a little more sparkle.  But because the wheel rotates, it made sense to have the power source on the wheel along with the LED's. I'm using little battery powered lights I got at ikea. (#301.624.68)

Other supplies needed:
  • small drill bit (3/32")
  • small zip ties (I actually used 98 out of the 100 piece pack... including the couple of mistakes I made)
  • batteries (check to make sure the lights are working)
Attaching the battery pack
  • hold the battery pack up against 2 spokes on the back side... you want 2 spokes for stability, but you don't want to use the front spokes, because that just wouldn't be pretty. 
  • using a black sharpie, mark both sides of those spokes. (I was able to see the black on black fairly clearly)
  • Drill 8 holes (in 4 pairs) on each side of the spoke marks. (TAKE THE BATTERIES & LID OFF FIRST!)
  • Thread zip ties through the holes (yes it was a tight fit).
  • Attach the battery pack to the spokes.
  • Cut the zip ties short.
  • Repeat 3x, evenly spacing the battery packs out (or else your wheel will not be very evenly weighted)
  • Test to make sure the lights still work.
Spread out the lights
  • Use the zip ties to attach LED's to the back spokes. 
  • Spread them out fairly evenly... I found blurring my eyes helped with placement. 
  • Do this until all the lights are securely attached.

Step 6: A Place for Musings

NOTE:  Steps 6 - 10 sort of happen all at the same time.  I am separating them by type of activity, and you can certainly do it in order.  I simply found I was to impatient to do nothing while glue and paint dried. 

Adding the musings between the spokes of the wheels  :-)   
I'm using tissue paper, because I love it's transparency... also because I have a huge horde of it, from gifts received, old sewing patterns, and purchases where they stuff it in the bag. 

Creating a template for the spoke gap
  • I created a template, using a piece of cereal box cardboard. 
  • Using the template I tore pieces of tissue paper. (3 x yellow, 3 x white, 3 x blue = 9 pieces)
  • the pieces need to be about 3/4 of an inch larger than the template on the strait sides.

Getting sticky and icky
  • I'm using tissue paper to go between the spokes. Not the strongest material initially, but as it builds up it gets really strong.... 
  • Cut your white glue by adding water to it... so it's 50% glue, 50% water.
  • Using your 50/50  glue, paint  the 2 spoke sides of your tissue paper.
  • Fold those edges over the spokes, and back on it's self.
  • I am not going all the way to the top edge so that I can add a noise maker later on.
  • Paint 50/50 glue all over the tissue paper.
  • Allow it time to dry
  • Don't worry about holes... we can easily patch them up later.
Adding layers
The tissue paper will get stronger as you add more layers, and it will add some richness and diversity to the colors. 
  • tear up more strips of tissue paper.  (they like to tear in a particular direction, if you can't get long strips one way, try it perpendicular to that) 
  • Paint more 50/50 glue on the surface. 
  • Add a strip of tissue paper.
  • paint over it with 50/50 glue
  • repeat.  ( if one area gets to saturated, stop let it dry and get taught again... and then continue)
Filling in the Gaps
Once you have a couple layers on, you can now fill in the gaps between the other spokes.
  • get a piece of tissue paper bigger than the gap you are trying to cover.
  • paint 50/50 glue on both sides of the gap.
  • stick the tissue paper down to both sides.
  • Using another brush, that only has water on it, paint a water line along the tissue paper.  you should be able to tear along this line (let it soak in for a couple of seconds)
  • paint the whole piece with 50/50 glue, & let dry. (you can later add layers to these pieces as well.)

Paint in your musings
  • You can paint, draw or collage on your musings. 
  • Trap things between layers of tissue paper
  • I have used tissue paper, stamps from old letters, acrylic paint, pages from a book, and  words typed on to tracing paper. 
  • paint the base

Step 7: On the Spokes:

You can put on hat ever you would like, things that you think will inspire you.  Here's what's on my wheel.
  • Play  With Paper- books, origami, paper dolls, paper toys, zines
  • Doodle - put on some tunes grab some pens, colored pencils & play (inspired by Drawing Lab book)
  • WALK, RIDE, PLAY, MOVE, OUTSIDE - feel the air in your lungs.
  • Learn - something new
  • Change - Change the scenery, go out... library, coffee shop, notice, taste, smell
  • Game - Play a game, or better yet make one. A maze, a puzzle, game of your life.
  • Sew - clothing, toy, doll, something useful
  • Imagine - the best space ever, a tree house, a studio your secret cave. (A room of your own)
  • Machine Made - invent your own machine, what does it do? what does it look like?
  • Sculpt - salt dough, paper mache, clay
  • Toy - indulge your inner child make a toy from what's on hand.
  • Mail - send a post card or letter
  • Weave a Tail (purposefully spelled wrong, my cats were causing trouble, I wished I could weave there tails together!)
  • Vacation - for a day, or imagine one... or plan one
  • Rest - take a nap, a bath, eat well & take care of your body.
  • Spoiled Rotten - Find someone/something spoil them rotten for the day (to answer my son's question YES, it can be yourself... but it's surprisingly refreshing to do it for someone else.)
  • Repair
  • Draw it - Take a walk bring something back to draw.

Step 8: Light Reflectors

I have added light reflectors to the back of the wheel, to keep more of the LED light bouncing back to the front of the Muse.  They are made of,  cereal boxes, candy wrappers, and shiny wrapping paper.  I'm sure household aluminum foil would work well too.

Make template
  • Using a piece of tracing paper, trace out  large pizza slice portion of your spokes. (you DO NOT want to spokes where the on off switch is, and we won't be covering the whole that we can replace batteries as needed)
  • Cut your template out of the cereal box cardboard.
  • Make another template of the remaining spoke pieces... keeping in mind we don' want to cover everything.
  • Again cut out of cereal box. 
  • We need 3 of both templates to go around the wheel.
Paint & glue
  • rough up the shiny side of the cereal box, with some sand paper (ok, in this case it's a pizza box)
  • paint on some 50/50, or regular glue
  • stick your template to shinny paper, or chocolate bar wrapper.
  • trim off the excess.
  • paint the other side black.
  • do this for all 6 pieces.
Attaching the reflectors to the bike
  • hold (or tape) up the reflector in the desired location.
  • mark dots where you want the reflector to attach to your spokes. (we'll be attaching them with zip ties)
  • punch or slice small holes in your reflector at the marked locations
  • If 2 pieces are going to butt up against each other, use the one, to determine the location of the holes on the other.
  • I found it easiest to do the places where the pieces overlapped, or butted up against each other first. string the zip tie through 1 piece, behind the spoke, and up through the other piece.
  • I would tighten the first one down, and then, left the other ones loose until everything was in place.
  • cut off the excess.
these actually made quite a bit of difference, unfortunately it was not possible to photograph it, with the tools on hand.

Step 9: The Arrow

Supplies needed...
  • coat hanger, or other thick wire
  • flat nosed pliers
  • wire cutters, or tin snips that can handle the coat hanger.

Bend the wire
  • have a clear idea in your head how you would like to bend the wire.  I wanted an arrow, so holding the pliers firmly I shaped the wire.  Reposition the pliers every place you want to make a sharp bend.
  • Using the tin snips, I cut the wire to the length I wanted.
  • I then bent the ends of the wire sou I could wrap it behind the fork. 
Attach the wire
  • I put the little "no slip" hanger back in place
  • I then put the arrow in it's desired position. Using a zip tie to keep it in place.
  • I then tightened up the bolts, on both sides of the fork.
Note: this is a good time to check & insure nothing is rubbing against the forks when you spin the wheel.

Step 10: A Noise Maker

I purposefully did not have the tissue paper go to the edge of the wheel so i could add a little noise :-) 

Making the noise maker in this case, consisted of using 2 small zip ties. 
  • I attached them together (just enough to know it's gripping)
  • wrapped them around the fork
  • positioned them to hit the end of the spokes, and then tightened them down.

Step 11: Ta Daa

Grab a pen & sketch book, and spin the wheel!!  See what "turns" up, and go ahead and draw, or doodle & play.  Remember, don't worry about perfect.. this is time to enjoy. 

That's what "a muse" is for,  to get you thinking, dreaming  :-)

Other ideas for the A-muse:
  • Dinner chooser
  • Chore options
  • Get off your butt & move ideas.

I AM entering it in to 3D Epilog Challenge, in hopes of winning the laser cutter. Yes, I will be voting for many of the other cool projects entered that inspire me!

I hope you will indulge me a moment & let me explain why a recycling, reusing artist such as myself would want a Laser Cutter. Actually it has to do with my supply chain.... It's never consistent, so I need to be able to adapt to the materials I have on hand.

I create templates and patterns for my works and often cut them out by hand. This is very labor intensive, and I get passed up by potential clients, because the resulting prices are higher. I would often like to have items die cut, but unless I run 500, 1000 or more it is impossibly, and even at that number cost prohibitive. It is also wasteful, as I would be responsible for and introducing new materials in to the supply chain. Not to mention, if I only have call for 100, what am I going to do with the other 900? I don't want to put them in a landfill !!

Can you imagine the look on the printers face when I walk up with 200 cereal boxes, explaining that I would like a die created, based on my illustrator file, and could they then run my cereal boxes through the machine? pretty, please? I don't have to imagine, I've already tried... :-)

A laser cutter would be a wonderful tool, in allowing me to follow my vision, in paper, glass, and metal.  Make paper toys, and auto-mania from boxes, recycle glass in to useful items, and explore & re-use.
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