Abicycle is the perfect combination of form and function. Compact and simple to operate, it provides the rider with an efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that’s also a healthy workout and an enjoyable pastime when combined with a winding country road or scenic forest path.
But a group of amateur artisans in St. Margarets Bay is putting its form to another function by turning parts from old and abandoned bikes into things of beauty with stained glass and solder.
Every Saturday afternoon at Glen Haven’s community and arts centre Paul’s Hall, youth and adults alike are invited to get crafty with spokes and cogs at a weekly workshop run by locally based non-profit GPI Atlantic. The organization — whose initials stand for Genuine Progress Index — was founded in 1997 to research sustainable alternatives to wasteful and harmful practices and promote community initiatives for growth and health. The bike art sessions sprang from its more recent GPI Youth program.
“We started the Youth Ride! transportation project four years ago, with a focus on things like cycling and public transit, and this was an offshoot,” says workshop instructor Alana Ziegler.
“We got the idea to combine bike parts and stained glass into something new, and we’ve even had an exhibit at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.”
Ziegler points to plastic bins full of glass shards of all colours, shapes and sizes, and also anassortment of donated bike wheels, cogs and gears that have been painstakingly cleaned and degreased by hand. All are donated or salvaged, and are available for use by participants, free of charge.
Finished pieces filter sunlight from their perches on the upstairs room’s windowsills, while others hang on the wall, seemingly at home among the vivid paintings by Leya Evelyn, which are being sold to raise funds for the youth program. Some are abstract combinations of the polished industrial metal and warm hues of glass, while others tell a story with historic photographs from the St. Margarets Bay area printed onto opaque squares.
When asked what happens with the bigger parts of the bikes, GPI Atlantic co-ordinator Hasta Colman explains that the frames are being saved for a separate project, where they’ll be painted and turned into bike racks at various community hubs and stops around St. Margarets Bay and along the Rails to Trails routes.
That’s an effort that can wait until the weather’s a little warmer, when it will help their message about getting around in a green way spread even further.
“These programs came out of our studies on the importance of having sustainable transportation for youth in areas between Halifax and Hubbards, and we wanted to do something fun that would get them interested,” says Colman.
“Generating active hands-on youth involvement is a really important part of what we do.”
While Ziegler dons a face mask to assist withsome soldering, Brodie Simmons from Fletcher’sLake gingerly presses a pentagonshaped piece of red glass against the wheel of a tabletop grinder.
“I’m going to put copper edges on it and then put it on a gear wheel with some other coloured pieces,” says the Grade 11 Lockview High School student.
“I’ve never done this before, but I like the idea of making things from old bike parts. My family is really big into bikes.”
At the next table, nine-year-old Dartmouth resident Rush Morrison is soldering a trio of coloured trapezoids together as the start of a stand for his beloved Rubik’s Cube. It’s a collaborative effort, as Ziegler shows him how to keep a bead of solder tidy, while using the heat from the soldering iron to adjust and realign the three pieces.
“I love it,” he says proudly of his handiwork. “My Rubik’s Cube was looking very lonely on the shelf by itself.”