Wednesday, February 22, 2012

ANT Headbadge in the Making

Making an ANT Headbadge
Visiting ANT yesterday, I got to see something very cool: The making of a headbadge from start to finish. The ANT headbadge looks like a piece of antique jewelry - resembling an oxidised copper brooch. I've been wondering how Mike Flanigan makes them, and now I know:

Making an ANT Headbadge
Turns out the headbadges are brass, not copper. While initially Mike made them by hand, for years now he has been getting them laser-cut in batches. But on this occasion he needed a headbadge for a bike with a short headtube, so he made a smaller one from scratch, starting with a blank plaque.

Making an ANT Headbadge
The headtube was not only small, but had decorative lugwork around the edges, limiting the space for the badge quite a bit. To start with, Mike measured the available space and cut down one of the blanks to size with a saw.

Making an ANT Headbadge
Using one of the laser-cut badges as a model, he then drew the design on the smaller blank freehand in black marker. Because of the difference in scale, the ant on the smaller badge came out slightly differently - chubbier and shorter, with a rounded head. We decided it was a juvenile ant.

Making an ANT Headbadge
Not sure whether this is obvious, but the rendering of the insect actually spells "ANT" - the head being the "A," the torso the "N" and the bottom the "T." It's a clever logo.

Making an ANT Headbadge
Using a variety of files and an awl, Mike carved out the ant and "distressed" the plaque.

Making an ANT Headbadge
The remaining traces of marker were then removed and the surface smoothed down.

Making an ANT Headbadge
Once the headbadge was ready, the patina was applied. This is the stuff that gives the headbadge the look of oxidised copper. 

Making an ANT Headbadge
This is a liquid patina goes on blue, but turns rusty-green as it air-dries. The process can be speeded up by putting the patina-covered headbadge in a plastic bag for a few minutes.

Making an ANT Headbadge
As the "oxidation" completed, Mike attached the badge to the headtube and it was done. The process took about 30 minutes total and was pretty exciting to watch. I don't think that many headbadges are carved out freehand anymore, and doing it this way gives them a distinctly hand-made look. A big thank you to Mike for letting me observe and share the process! 

40 comments:

  1. Very nice pictures to see the whole process. If you want just a custom head badge for your bike there is always tangerinetreehouse.com.

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    1. Laura makes beautiful headbadges. In Boston there is also Nao from Tomii Cycles and Shane from Boston Biker.

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    2. Another wonderful custom headbadge maker is Jen Green. She made the head badge for my homemade custom. Took my design and turned it into sterling silver artwork for my bike.

      See...
      http://www.headbadges.com/

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  2. So cool!!! How ridiculous is it to want an ANT because I like the head badge?

    Marie

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  3. One of my favorite headbadges:

    http://bicyclefixation.com/images/sdcbs/sdcbs_ahearne.jpg

    From our photo essay on the final San Diego Custom Bicycle Show:

    http://bicyclefixation.com/pe_sdcbs2011.html

    My ancient Bottecchia's headbadge lost its paint long ago, so now is itself patina'd, though not by design....

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    1. Wow, the spork is an interesting one!

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    2. I suspect it's meant to imply that the bike is an "all-rounder." I liked the headbadge more than the bike itself!

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    3. If my eyes don't deceive me, the spork is removable- it looks like the top bolt is a hanger, and the bottom fastener is a wingnut! A utility headbadge would be a bold re-imagining of the concept.

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  4. do you have additional photos of the bike? the last pic of the beautiful headtube makes me what to see the rest of the bike!

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    Replies
    1. I did not have my camera with me unfortunately, so I only have this i-phone pic. It is a gorgeous bike, will get better pictures soon.

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    2. Are the pictures here also iPhone? Not bad.

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    3. wow... it's beautiful... (drool)

      thanks for sharing!

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    4. Anna - Yup. Was really kicking myself for not bringing my camera. Note to self: *never* visit ANT without proper DSLR. You never know.

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  5. You've already seen this, Velouria, but bike builder Nao Tomii (whose bike you featured on your blog) also makes beautiful hand-filed headbadges, like the one he made for my Jeunet:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7516215@N03/4636657923/

    Interestingly, Nao doesn't cut his head badges from plate stock, but rather from tube stock. Now that he's making actual bikes, I'm not sure if he still makes badges by request.

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    Replies
    1. If I were getting a custom head badge, it would probably be from Nao. Pretty sure he is still offering them.

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  6. Is this a new bike of yours? Shorter bike, intricate lugwork, sounds quite familiar...

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    Replies
    1. Can't a girl take some bike pictures without everyone assuming it's hers! : )

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    2. "Can't a girl take some bike pictures without everyone assuming it's hers! : )"

      With your track record?

      hahahahahaha

      (tries for serious face, falls into snickering fit)

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  7. That's some impressive craftsmanship. The headbadge AND the bike.
    MT cyclist

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  8. Seeing this process makes me want to give it a try myself! Any idea where Mike gets the brass blanks?

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, I don't. But I'm sure you can find them online or in a hardware store.

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  9. love the action shot with the yellow saw!

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  10. I purchase the plates from MSC Supply.

    #36928729

    The Jewelers saw, blades and patina I purchase from Rio Grande jewelery supply.

    antbikemike

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  11. Jennifer in ScotlandFebruary 22, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Truss bike congrats: )

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  12. Very cool headbadge and a beautiful bike!

    You should get a micro 4/3rds camera, V. I love mine, and it's much smaller than a DSLR, but takes comparable pictures in almost every situation. Easier to transport, I think. I never leave home without it, and it tucks into a pocket when I'm not in the mood to carry the camera bag/purse.

    But of course, those were amazing phone pics, too.

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    1. I have one, but actually prefer the iphone camera. The image quality is the same if not better than the standard small point-and-shoot. What makes the pictures here look all weird are the filters - which are extra programs that the iphone makes convenient to use (and I use them because I prefer the look to unfiltered point-and-shoot pics), but not an inherent feature of the iphone camera, if that makes sense. The square format is part of that as well. But the original, hi-res unfiltered versions of these are no different than what you'd get with a micro camera, with the benefit of not having to carry any extra camera at all.

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    2. Are you saying the pictures are square because they are cropped? I thought one quirk of the iPhone was that it took square pictures in the first place.

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    3. People confuse the iphone camera itself with the filters. But think of it this way: The iphone has a camera built into it. It is a good quality point and shoot camera. The image format is not square. The image quality is hi-res. But the iphone is also a mini computer, so it has all kinds of image editing programs available. They are like photoshop but much easier to use and offer all sorts of ready-made filters. Point and shoot pictures tend to be boring, because the small lens does not allow the shooter to do anything interesting or even to have much control. The filter programs make it possible to very quickly transform the pics into something more interesting. The square format is specific to instagram and I think also hipstamatic. But there are other filter programs that do not impose this cropping. And no matter what you do to the images via the filters, the original (uncropped un-altered) images remain and can be imported into your computer. Hope this makes some sense.

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    4. V, a micro 4/3rds camera is not a point-and-shoot. It's a mirrorless camera with a nearly DSLR-sized sensor and interchangeable lenses (you could easily use your current lenses with my camera, for instance, and a few cheap adapters). Essentially, these are near DSLR-quality cameras (the very newest ones shoot comparable quality photos to high-end DSLRs, actually)that shoot in RAW or Jpeg format and yes, use filters if you are so inclined (though I shoot without them and adjust my photos in post-process), just like a DSLR, but in a pocket size. Of course, if you slap a big ol' zoom lens on your micro 4/3rds, it isn't so small anymore ;). But saying that you can take the same quality photos with an iPhone is like saying that you can take the same quality photos on your phone as you can on a DSLR, which simply isn't true. The light sensor isn't big enough, as you know. So no, not a point-and-shoot at all. That's why I recommended one: they're a nice compromise between the two formats. They're very new (the technology is less than five years-old), so most folks have never seen one in person, but they are amazingly small.

      I have an Olympus Pen-series camera (you would probably like the retro, Rangefinder styling, as I did), but Sony makes great cameras in the NEX series, and Panasonic also makes them. I'd check them out, unless you're perfectly happy with the iPhone as back-up camera. It sounded like you weren't in the original post, and a micro 4/3rds format might be a nice way to bridge the gap between extremely portable point-and-shoots, and high-quality DSLRs.

      I wrote all about mine on Snapbugblog, which is my photo journal blog. It's at: snapbugblog.wordpress.com, under "Gear Reviews" in the categories.

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  13. Don't know if you've heard but Ralpha is having a 50% off sale on women's gear this weekend. It's called the Festa Bella Donna and starts on the 24th. Got notified on Facebook, it's not on the website yet. :) Woot woot!

    I love the headbadge photos. It's great to see a craftsman at his work. Thanks for snapping these, even if they aren't from a DSLR. They look great on my laptop.

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  14. "...resembling an oxidised copper broche." Did you mean "brooch"? I'm thinking you probably didn't mean "brioche"! b

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    1. Thanks, I thought that looked off : )

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  15. Nooo We missed the part where he contours the badge for the tube!

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  16. I was impressed with Mike's ANT badge - so much I had to get my own truss bike, its just icing on the cake to me!

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  17. I am with Lauren, I guessed this is your bike ;?). Sage green, cream tyres, smallish bike. Lugs and brown leather plus a frame different from any you own so far.. Birthday present?

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  18. (I'm a tad late...!) Anyway, wanted to post that this was a fascinating read and visual aid. Thanks for posting!

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  19. Thank you for sharing this process, looking forward to seeing the complete bike!

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