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In Musings

By Gavin Bannerman


On 06, Nov 2012 | No Comments | In Musings | By Gavin Bannerman



Everything is handmade these days – jam, stationery, anything on Etsy – or at least that’s what they say. But how much of what is labelled “handmade” is actually the result of a human being’s own metacarpals? There is a general assumption that handmade is better, that it has more integrity and, through the nature of its imprecise, non-mechanised production, is more unique.

I think for some products, having a handmade product is far more desirable. I would love all of my shoes to be lovingly made by hand and individualised for my two slightly different length feet. But do I need handmade nails for my roof? Do I really care? Not so much.

The upcoming Australian Custom Bicycle Show has really got me thinking about handmade products in the bicycle industry. In relation to bikes, I like a good smattering of handmade products. I don’t mind if my rear derailleur was punched out in a factory in Vicenza or somewhere in South-East Asia. But I enjoy the thought of lovingly crafted bar tape and saddles like those made by Mick Peel. I think Joe Cosgrove’s paint is exceptionally beautiful. Some parts of a bike, you just want them to work, but others you want them to work and look amazing and have “soul”.

Two people that I’ve met in my life whose work most definitely comes under the handmade category are Darrell McCulloch and Stephen Hart.

I’ve interviewed Darrell about his work constructing steel bicycle frames and visited his workshop several times. Through these experiences, I’ve gained an appreciation of how much time it takes to make a Llewellyn frame. Darrell will often point out, amid the current fashionability of framebuilding, that his gig is all about time and hard work. We lust over the end results, but making frames is full of long, tedious toil, mostly done by hand. Filing, then filing some more.

Darrell McCulloch – Framebuilder from Gavin Bannerman on Vimeo.

After visiting Darrell’s workshop for the first time, I was struck with how similar it was to my father-in-law’s studio. Stephen Hart is a sculptor who often creates figures out of wood – hard and soft alike. Stephen actually made a work called “Spent Time” as a reflection of the work that went into it.

SPENT TIME from Alex Chomicz on Vimeo.

I’ve appreciated the lengthy production process first-hand. Stephen is currently working on a series of figures, including one of me holding my son Vincent. Scraping, chipping away timber to make a figure, it’s not so different to Darrell’s filing and polishing. They produce very different outcomes, but certainly, I would call Darrell’s frames and Stephen’s sculptures “handmade.”


Darrell with frame under construction, BB1521


Andy and Darrell

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