Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Rite of Passage

In August, I participated in the annual Burning Man art festival in the northern Nevada desert.  The theme for 2011 was "Rites of Passage" and in honor of my 92 year-old grandmother, an important person in my life for whom I think that phrase is most poignant (she has been living with dementia, and now Alzheimer's, for the past three years), I built a bike (thanks Free Cycles in Missoula for all the help!) and designed my various garb for the week.  Rather than reflect the more frustrating and heart-wrench moments of her personal passage in my designs, I chose to accentuate those glints of joy, silliness, abandon, caprice and freedom that now peek through her once more staid personality.

Below are a few photos of the finished bicycle.  The gaudy floral patterns that cover the wheel spokes, seat, handles, etc, are made from cotton patterns I picked up at the thrift store that supports our local senior center.  I have to say, after spending several hours hunting for designs that would make my eyes bleed with happiness, old ladies know where it's at.

In the end, even whimsy is no match for the desert sand.  Within a few hours dust and grit had penetrated every joint, clogged the drivetrain, stymied the breaks, and loosened a crank arm enough that it fell off and wouldn't properly tighten again.  I was able to super glue that crank arm back to the bottom bracket, but the epoxy that had held up my flag and the hood ornament had completely dissolved within four days.

It was nice while it lasted.

Ta da!

Back disc cover. Daisies. Hand sewn to secure against the spokes.

Front disc cover. Blue berries. Ditto.

Hand sewn seat cover

The flag of Grandma; composed from a photo of her at 9 and 89.

My hood ornament.

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