Shoestring

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While I don't want to go too crazy with this build, I still dug through my collection of non-bicycle bicycle parts to see if there was anything I could use to spice up this bike. I came across this trim piece off of some Ford that looks like it'd fit almost perfectly between the top bars. I'd need to trim the mounting tabs to get it to sit flush with the frame, and I'd need to figure out some way to mount it nondestructively, but I'm curtain I could get it to work. If I could wrap the mounting tabs with some sort of rubber gasket that could squeeze in-between the top bars as a sort of pressure-fit, I think that would be best.
View attachment 194466View attachment 194463View attachment 194464View attachment 194465

On to the really good stuff. I installed two whitewall tires, one good and used, and the other... just used. The rear is a weathered but hardly-used 26" x 2.125" that I pulled off some freebie parts bike a while back, while the front wheel and 26" x 1.75" tire came off my Aunt Suzanne's Western Flyer Sonic Flyer that I currently have apart for a rebuild project. The wheel's good, the tube holds air, but the tire is practically junk. I love the look, but I may have to rob a newer used whitewall middleweight tire off one of my actually rideable bikes to make this bike safe to ride.
View attachment 194467

I also had another idea to add a panel under the original tank. It's just a cardboard template for now, but I plan to make it out of one of the old wood boards I've collected over the past few years. I also had these lead numbers with nails I bought at a garage sale last year that I've been itching to use on a project. Given that I'm going with a raw, rusty, unpainted look for this bike, I figured these would look perfect on this bike. The "65" probably won't be the actual number I go with on this bike, but they do bear some meaning for me. $65 is the amount I paid for my first bike that got me into this hobby over 4 years ago.
View attachment 194468View attachment 194469

One more idea I want to try, mostly as an excuse to use up some pieces I've held onto for the past few years: a custom "headlight." I don't know if I'll actually make it actually light up or not yet, but I want to put something in front of the bike now that I took the fenders off. The main pieces I plan to use are a large fence post topper, an old VW emblem, and a bent spoon. The plastic "emergency exit sign" light lens probably won't make the final cut, but it's an idea.
View attachment 194470

I found if I pulled the 3 mounting tabs out of the VW badge, the lip of the fence post topper fit perfectly inside the outer ring of the VW badge!
View attachment 194471View attachment 194472View attachment 194473

Even better, the fence post topper fits almost perfectly inside the spoon, which would make for a cool mounting idea I want to try.
View attachment 194474

Here's the idea: I'd mount the spoon to the fork using the screw that would hold the fender in place, and either glue or screw the cup of the spoon to the fence post topper. I'll then mount the VW emblem to the fence post topper, with something behind the emblem so it's not all hollow and empty behind it. I'll probably flip the VW badge upside-down so it looks like an "M" for "Murray." I might try aging the "headlight" so it blends in with the rest of the bike better, but that's a problem for later. I need to see if I can make the headlight first.
View attachment 194475View attachment 194476View attachment 194477View attachment 194478View attachment 194479View attachment 194480View attachment 194481

While I'm still pretty early on in the development of this bike, I think this is ultimately the direction I want to take this bike. I'm still not going to go too crazy with the modifications, but I don't see anything wrong with a few "enhancements." And as one of my favorite custom car builders, Ian Roussel, likes to say, "every project needs a bit of Volkswagen in it."

Now that the primary mockups are out of the way, I'm going to dig through my sticker collection to see if there's anything good I can use to cover up those sore spots on the chain guard and headset. I'm also going to dig though some other odds and ends to see if I have the parts needed to make this headlight actually functional.
I really like the headlight idea! I would just pop rivet the spoon to the topper shell. And I think I probably won't need any extra aging.
 
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I really like the headlight idea! I would just pop rivet the spoon to the topper shell. And I think I probably won't need any extra aging.
Thanks! Unfortunately, I don't have the tools or equipment to pop rivet anything at the moment. Maybe I could rent a riveter or buy one cheap from Harbor Freight... It's definitely worth trying! Thanks! I'll build the headlight first and worry about the aging later.
 
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While I don't want to go too crazy with this build, I still dug through my collection of non-bicycle bicycle parts to see if there was anything I could use to spice up this bike. I came across this trim piece off of some Ford that looks like it'd fit almost perfectly between the top bars. I'd need to trim the mounting tabs to get it to sit flush with the frame, and I'd need to figure out some way to mount it nondestructively, but I'm curtain I could get it to work. If I could wrap the mounting tabs with some sort of rubber gasket that could squeeze in-between the top bars as a sort of pressure-fit, I think that would be best.
View attachment 194466View attachment 194463View attachment 194464View attachment 194465

On to the really good stuff. I installed two whitewall tires, one good and used, and the other... just used. The rear is a weathered but hardly-used 26" x 2.125" that I pulled off some freebie parts bike a while back, while the front wheel and 26" x 1.75" tire came off my Aunt Suzanne's Western Flyer Sonic Flyer that I currently have apart for a rebuild project. The wheel's good, the tube holds air, but the tire is practically junk. I love the look, but I may have to rob a newer used whitewall middleweight tire off one of my actually rideable bikes to make this bike safe to ride.
View attachment 194467

I also had another idea to add a panel under the original tank. It's just a cardboard template for now, but I plan to make it out of one of the old wood boards I've collected over the past few years. I also had these lead numbers with nails I bought at a garage sale last year that I've been itching to use on a project. Given that I'm going with a raw, rusty, unpainted look for this bike, I figured these would look perfect on this bike. The "65" probably won't be the actual number I go with on this bike, but they do bear some meaning for me. $65 is the amount I paid for my first bike that got me into this hobby over 4 years ago.
View attachment 194468View attachment 194469

One more idea I want to try, mostly as an excuse to use up some pieces I've held onto for the past few years: a custom "headlight." I don't know if I'll actually make it actually light up or not yet, but I want to put something in front of the bike now that I took the fenders off. The main pieces I plan to use are a large fence post topper, an old VW emblem, and a bent spoon. The plastic "emergency exit sign" light lens probably won't make the final cut, but it's an idea.
View attachment 194470

I found if I pulled the 3 mounting tabs out of the VW badge, the lip of the fence post topper fit perfectly inside the outer ring of the VW badge!
View attachment 194471View attachment 194472View attachment 194473

Even better, the fence post topper fits almost perfectly inside the spoon, which would make for a cool mounting idea I want to try.
View attachment 194474

Here's the idea: I'd mount the spoon to the fork using the screw that would hold the fender in place, and either glue or screw the cup of the spoon to the fence post topper. I'll then mount the VW emblem to the fence post topper, with something behind the emblem so it's not all hollow and empty behind it. I'll probably flip the VW badge upside-down so it looks like an "M" for "Murray." I might try aging the "headlight" so it blends in with the rest of the bike better, but that's a problem for later. I need to see if I can make the headlight first.
View attachment 194475View attachment 194476View attachment 194477View attachment 194478View attachment 194479View attachment 194480View attachment 194481

While I'm still pretty early on in the development of this bike, I think this is ultimately the direction I want to take this bike. I'm still not going to go too crazy with the modifications, but I don't see anything wrong with a few "enhancements." And as one of my favorite custom car builders, Ian Roussel, likes to say, "every project needs a bit of Volkswagen in it."

Now that the primary mockups are out of the way, I'm going to dig through my sticker collection to see if there's anything good I can use to cover up those sore spots on the chain guard and headset. I'm also going to dig though some other odds and ends to see if I have the parts needed to make this headlight actually functional.
Headlamp is EPIC!
 
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The plate below the tank really fills in the space nicely. The headlight is looking awesome, and is cool with the emblem upside down. If you don’t want to pop rivet the spoon you could drill a couple holes, get some small brass bolts with a slotted head , and then soak them in vinegar and salt to patina the brass.
 
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The plate below the tank really fills in the space nicely. The headlight is looking awesome, and is cool with the emblem upside down. If you don’t want to pop rivet the spoon you could drill a couple holes, get some small brass bolts with a slotted head , and then soak them in vinegar and salt to patina the brass.
Thank you! I actually just came up with some more ideas for the tank insert and headlight just earlier tonight, so I'm hoping I can share those here soon. I like the idea of the brass bolts! I might still be able to use pop rivets, as my dad has the tool for it somewhere at his shop, but I wouldn't mind trying something else if need be. I just don't want to spend a ton of money on this bike.
 
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Okay, I've made some progress on my bike these past few days, but I need to set aside time to copy, edit, and upload all the photos I've shot so far. It's too late for me to mess with all that right now, but I'll try and upload some progress photos sometime tomorrow.

For now, I'll just say that I finally decided on a name for this bike: Shoestring. Bit of an odd name, but given that I'm trying to throw this bike together using what parts and pieces I already have, while sticking to a sort-of shoestring budget, I thought it fit the theme of this bike. So, Shoestring it is! Granted, it's not as much of a "shoestring budget" when I factor in just how much I've spent on all these parts and pieces over the years, but given that I'm trying to spend as little additional money on this bike as possible, I think it works.
 
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Okay, I've made some progress on my bike these past few days, but I need to set aside time to copy, edit, and upload all the photos I've shot so far. It's too late for me to mess with all that right now, but I'll try and upload some progress photos sometime tomorrow.

For now, I'll just say that I finally decided on a name for this bike: Shoestring. Bit of an odd name, but given that I'm trying to throw this bike together using what parts and pieces I already have, while sticking to a sort-of shoestring budget, I thought it fit the theme of this bike. So, Shoestring it is! Granted, it's not as much of a "shoestring budget" when I factor in just how much I've spent on all these parts and pieces over the years, but given that I'm trying to spend as little additional money on this bike as possible, I think it works.
A lot of my shoestring builds turn into boot string builds!!!! -or at least high-top builds! Lol

which brings up a great point on a future build-off…. Have we ever done a shoestring build off where max budget is like, $50 or less?
 

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which brings up a great point on a future build-off…. Have we ever done a shoestring build off where max budget is like, $50 or less?

I'm doing that now 😂
 
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A lot of my shoestring builds turn into boot string builds!!!! -or at least high-top builds! Lol

which brings up a great point on a future build-off…. Have we ever done a shoestring build off where max budget is like, $50 or less?
Yeah, that's happened to me on multiple occasions. I still cringe looking back at my first try at the Muscle Bike Build Off. Still, it was at least a decent learning experience, and I got a cheap fat tire bike out of it too.

I don't know if there's been an official build off with that theme in mind, but I love the idea!

I'm actually trying to keep this build under $50 if I can. So far, I spent $40 on the bike, and $2 on the seat. I should have enough chain, bearings and bearing cups that I won't have to buy any, and I have most of the materials to make my decorative pieces for this bike. If anything's going to put this bike over a $50 budget, it will probably be the custom headlight. I have a switch, battery tray, and just about everything else needed to make it functional, but I'm missing the most critical element: at least one light bulb and socket. I don't think it'd cost a lot, but it'd be enough to put this bike over $50. I don't think I'll be riding this bike at night, but if the light works well enough that I could, then that could be all the encouragement I need to spend the $10 or so required to make it happen.
 
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Yeah, that's happened to me on multiple occasions. I still cringe looking back at my first try at the Muscle Bike Build Off. Still, it was at least a decent learning experience, and I got a cheap fat tire bike out of it too.

I don't know if there's been an official build off with that theme in mind, but I love the idea!

I'm actually trying to keep this build under $50 if I can. So far, I spent $40 on the bike, and $2 on the seat. I should have enough chain, bearings and bearing cups that I won't have to buy any, and I have most of the materials to make my decorative pieces for this bike. If anything's going to put this bike over a $50 budget, it will probably be the custom headlight. I have a switch, battery tray, and just about everything else needed to make it functional, but I'm missing the most critical element: at least one light bulb and socket. I don't think it'd cost a lot, but it'd be enough to put this bike over $50. I don't think I'll be riding this bike at night, but if the light works well enough that I could, then that could be all the encouragement I need to spend the $10 or so required to make it happen.
That’s really good…. my budget is always blown on tires and a few select parts I get hung up on and end up buying on eBay.

I’ll get a look stuck in my head and I’ll get hung up on new tires which are always expensive, but now even more exaggerated due to freight and inflation.

i do a good job of getting bikes on the cheap. Most of my builds max out between $150 and $250. Big box bikes go for that or more, and in my opinion are junk….. the bikes I finish and parts i use on my bikes, in my opinion are way higher quality than big box and look better to Me.

I am meticulous in my cost tracking. As I can wrap some money up in a bike, if I sell it, I very seldom ever lose anything on a bike and if I keep it, it’s exactly what I wanted.
 
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Ok, I've got some progress to report today. First up: stickers! Why stickers? Well, I've got these spots on my bike where some reflective tape had been applied, and when I removed them, they revealed some of the surviving paint underneath. While it's pretty cool to get a small glimpse at what this bike used to look like, it stands out from the rust and patina too much in my opinion. I haven't mastered the art of "fauxtina" yet, so I'm thinking of covering up the sore spots with stickers. I was going to use some stickers I already had stored away, but they all look too bright and glossy to fit in with the rest of the bike. Fortunately, I'm an illustrator and graphic designer by trade, so I can just make my own stickers!

The first and worst spot I want to correct is the front of the headset. the red paint extends about 5 1/4 inches from top to bottom, and 3/4 inches wide. There's a total of about 2 inches of room between the tank halves, but even that isn't enough room for conventional sticker proportions. This would have to be a very tall and narrow sticker in order to cover up the paint. Fortunately, I have a plan.
BftD_rusty_murray_rrbbo_2022_26.jpg


To get some ideas, I decided to see what my bike (or a similar bike) would have looked like when new-ish. That's when I saw this photo of a similar bike with a long, narrow "Murray" badge between the headlights. I need my sticker to be a bit taller than this, but this helps with the dimensions.
IMG_8041[1].JPG


Here's what I came up with: The sticker for the headset will be shaped similarly to the Murray badge pictured above, but instead of "Murray," I'll use my username instead. Not only will it help fill in the taller and possibly narrower proportions required for the sticker, but it'll provide me with a space to add my "signature." So far, I feel design #4 is the strongest, but there's still room for refinement.

On the same page, I tried coming up with ideas for the sticker on the chain guard (more on that in a moment,) as well as ideas for the custom headlight and tank insert. Those ideas might be better to explain once I have better photos of the materials I want to use and what sort of ideas and issues I'm trying to sort through.
BftD_rusty_murray_ideas.jpg


The next spots I want to cover up with stickers are the large white spot on the chain guard and possibly the smaller spot on the tank. I want to place the name of the bike on the chain guard, since that's usually where the model name of most bikes is placed, like the "Meteor Flite" script that's already there. I also want something like a racing or sports-inspired sticker to cover up the spot on the tank, almost like some kid might've placed it there decades ago to personalize his bike with a nod to his favorite sport.
BftD_rusty_murray_rrbbo_2022_3.jpg
BftD_rusty_murray_rrbbo_2022_6.jpg


Once I came up with the bike's name, Shoestring, on Friday, I immediately got to work coming up with a design for a chain guard sticker. Here's the challenge with not just that sticker, but the others I'm designing for this bike as well: I don't want these stickers to look... too obvious. I don't want these stickers to look like brand new, fantasy stickers that I made up in 2022. I want them to look old, faded, wrinkled and brown, like they were all on the bike for decades while it sat inside a barn or out in a field somewhere. That also means I want the designs to look old, like something you might have found in a department store back in the 1960s/1970s.

So while that chain guard sticker will state the name of the bike, I don't want it to be obvious at first glance that that's the sole purpose of the sticker. I want it to look like a souvenir sticker that a kid might have received with some shoelaces he bought at a big chain shoe store and slapped on his bike to cover up a scratch or paint chip. That's why both rough designs say, "I got my Shoestring at Pay Nothing Shoe Source." It also serves as a reference as to how I'm trying to "pay nothing" extra to build this bike.

I wanted the word "Shoestring" to be written using a single shoelace, so the only way to really do that was to write the word in cursive... I haven't written anything in cursive since I was in 5th grade nearly 20 years ago. Heck, my signature's not even really cursive; it's mostly stylized print! So I had to look up what cursive letters even looked like, and... well apparently I forgot quite a bit of how to write in cursive, hence why my first attempts to write Shoestring look so bad. I practically had to sketch the word instead of write it. It didn't help that there was more than one way to write a cursive "S" and "G." Still, I feel I did okay figuring out how to portray a cursive "Shoestring." There's still room to refine it, of course, but I at least have the gist of my idea down.

As for the sticker I want to throw on the tank, I was looking at old automotive racing stickers and old logos for the Super Bowl and Rose Bowl for inspiration. As I was browsing Google for inspiration and reference material, I had one of my favorite car shows, Full Custom Garage, playing on the TV in the background. Ian Roussel was building a sort of "Great Depression period-piece" Model A Ford that looked like something one might have seen driving through The Dust Bowl. That got me thinking; "Super Bowl," "Rose Bowl," why not "Dust Bowl?" It could be a fantasy sports-themed sticker, a reference to the history of Oklahoma (my home state,) and a reference to a period where loads of people had to make do with what they had to make ends meet. It felt like the perfect fantasy sticker to throw on a rusty bike that's all about working with what I have.

I immediately remembered a certain detail from Ken Burns' documentary on The Dust Bowl where the dust was so bad, families would place their plates and bowls upside-down on the dinner table to keep the dust and dirt from getting inside them until they were ready to eat. So, I used that detail as the foundation for my fantasy "Dust Bowl" sticker. The "MCMXXX" refers to the year, 1930, when The Dust Bowl began. On design #6, "MCMXXXVI" refers to 1936, the year when The Dust Bowl ended. Basically, designs 1-5 are supposed to be an upside-down bowl resting on top of a dinner table, with a checkerboard table cloth on designs 2-5, and dust piled over the bowl and table on designs 4 and 5. Design #6 is just an upside down bowl with "Dust Bowl" and 1936 in Roman numerals on top. I was thinking I'd put that sticker on the opposite side of the tank, if I decide that side needs a sticker. So far, I like design #5 best, but there's still room for improvement.
BftD_rusty_murray_ideas_2.jpg


So those are the rough designs for my stickers, but now comes the really interesting part: how am I going to make them? First, I'll sketch some refined designs on paper, then take those designs and flesh them out and finalize them in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I might deliberately fade the colors before I print them to make the next step look more convincing. I'll need to print the stickers using a laser printer. I don't own one myself, nor does anyone I know, but my local library has laser printers that I can use for 10 cents per black-and-white page, or 25 cents per color page. This means I could print up to 10 black-and-white copies or 4 color copies for $1 total! Perfect for a Shoestring budget build! But why do I need to use a laser printer instead of an inkjet printer? Well, that's where it gets really interesting....

I found some tutorials online for making aged labels and stickers by soaking the paper with wet tea leaves or used coffee grounds. I did some experimenting yesterday using some tea leaves from whatever tea Mom had the night prior, which resulted in this weird purple and red color, and some used coffee grounds for the rest. I tried a few different applications, as well as heating a few strips of paper in the microwave to supposedly enhance the color. I haven't quite figured out the best technique to get the discoloration I want yet, but this is a step in the right direction. I want these stickers to look old and brown, like they had been on the bike for at least 50 years, but I don't want them to stand out against the rust on the bike. I want the stickers to be less of a "highlight" and more of a "detail," like something you don't catch upon first glance, but you might after looking a little closer. Aging the stickers by staining them brown, folding and wrinkling them, and maybe even tearing them, will help sell the effect I'm going for on this project.
BftD_rusty_murray_rrbbo_2022_58.jpg
BftD_rusty_murray_rrbbo_2022_59.jpg


I've got more progress and photos to share, so hopefully those will be uploaded here later today, if I can get them all edited quickly enough.
 
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That’s really good…. my budget is always blown on tires and a few select parts I get hung up on and end up buying on eBay.

I’ll get a look stuck in my head and I’ll get hung up on new tires which are always expensive, but now even more exaggerated due to freight and inflation.

i do a good job of getting bikes on the cheap. Most of my builds max out between $150 and $250. Big box bikes go for that or more, and in my opinion are junk….. the bikes I finish and parts i use on my bikes, in my opinion are way higher quality than big box and look better to Me.

I am meticulous in my cost tracking. As I can wrap some money up in a bike, if I sell it, I very seldom ever lose anything on a bike and if I keep it, it’s exactly what I wanted.
Thanks. Yeah, tires can really mess with the budget of a build, especially if you're going for a certain look. I'm running into that issue with my build right now, as I want a certain look, but the only 26" x 1.75" whitewall tires I have that are any good are all on my few rideable bikes. To get a replacement tire is $25, which isn't that bad, except I really, really need to keep my spending to a minimum due to how tight my funds are right now. So, I might have to sacrifice a tire off one of my riders for this project.

$150-$250 for a build is pretty good! Yeah, why spend that much on a store-bought bike with poorer quality parts, when you could spend the same rescuing an old bike and making it your own too? Pretty much a no-brainer. (To be fair though, if a department store bike is how one finds their way into this hobby, then I don't think there's really anything wrong with that. We all got to start somewhere. Why critique how one enters a hobby when that starting point could lead to so much more?)

I typically don't keep track of the expenses on my bikes, mostly because I like to build these bikes for myself. I'm in no rush to sell my personal projects, so I don't worry about how much it cost me to build a bike as long as I'm happy with the end result. This time, though, I really need to watch my spending habits and my funds. Fortunately, I have most everything I need to make this bike happen. I just have to figure out how to make it happen.
 
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Ok, I've got some progress to report today. First up: stickers! Why stickers? Well, I've got these spots on my bike where some reflective tape had been applied, and when I removed them, they revealed some of the surviving paint underneath. While it's pretty cool to get a small glimpse at what this bike used to look like, it stands out from the rust and patina too much in my opinion. I haven't mastered the art of "fauxtina" yet, so I'm thinking of covering up the sore spots with stickers. I was going to use some stickers I already had stored away, but they all look too bright and glossy to fit in with the rest of the bike. Fortunately, I'm an illustrator and graphic designer by trade, so I can just make my own stickers!

The first and worst spot I want to correct is the front of the headset. the red paint extends about 5 1/4 inches from top to bottom, and 3/4 inches wide. There's a total of about 2 inches of room between the tank halves, but even that isn't enough room for conventional sticker proportions. This would have to be a very tall and narrow sticker in order to cover up the paint. Fortunately, I have a plan.
View attachment 195058

To get some ideas, I decided to see what my bike (or a similar bike) would have looked like when new-ish. That's when I saw this photo of a similar bike with a long, narrow "Murray" badge between the headlights. I need my sticker to be a bit taller than this, but this helps with the dimensions.
View attachment 195062

Here's what I came up with: The sticker for the headset will be shaped similarly to the Murray badge pictured above, but instead of "Murray," I'll use my username instead. Not only will it help fill in the taller and possibly narrower proportions required for the sticker, but it'll provide me with a space to add my "signature." So far, I feel design #4 is the strongest, but there's still room for refinement.

On the same page, I tried coming up with ideas for the sticker on the chain guard (more on that in a moment,) as well as ideas for the custom headlight and tank insert. Those ideas might be better to explain once I have better photos of the materials I want to use and what sort of ideas and issues I'm trying to sort through.
View attachment 195050

The next spots I want to cover up with stickers are the large white spot on the chain guard and possibly the smaller spot on the tank. I want to place the name of the bike on the chain guard, since that's usually where the model name of most bikes is placed, like the "Meteor Flite" script that's already there. I also want something like a racing or sports-inspired sticker to cover up the spot on the tank, almost like some kid might've placed it there decades ago to personalize his bike with a nod to his favorite sport.
View attachment 195056View attachment 195057

Once I came up with the bike's name, Shoestring, on Friday, I immediately got to work coming up with a design for a chain guard sticker. Here's the challenge with not just that sticker, but the others I'm designing for this bike as well: I don't want these stickers to look... too obvious. I don't want these stickers to look like brand new, fantasy stickers that I made up in 2022. I want them to look old, faded, wrinkled and brown, like they were all on the bike for decades while it sat inside a barn or out in a field somewhere. That also means I want the designs to look old, like something you might have found in a department store back in the 1960s/1970s.

So while that chain guard sticker will state the name of the bike, I don't want it to be obvious at first glance that that's the sole purpose of the sticker. I want it to look like a souvenir sticker that a kid might have received with some shoelaces he bought at a big chain shoe store and slapped on his bike to cover up a scratch or paint chip. That's why both rough designs say, "I got my Shoestring at Pay Nothing Shoe Source." It also serves as a reference as to how I'm trying to "pay nothing" extra to build this bike.

I wanted the word "Shoestring" to be written using a single shoelace, so the only way to really do that was to write the word in cursive... I haven't written anything in cursive since I was in 5th grade nearly 20 years ago. Heck, my signature's not even really cursive; it's mostly stylized print! So I had to look up what cursive letters even looked like, and... well apparently I forgot quite a bit of how to write in cursive, hence why my first attempts to write Shoestring look so bad. I practically had to sketch the word instead of write it. It didn't help that there was more than one way to write a cursive "S" and "G." Still, I feel I did okay figuring out how to portray a cursive "Shoestring." There's still room to refine it, of course, but I at least have the gist of my idea down.

As for the sticker I want to throw on the tank, I was looking at old automotive racing stickers and old logos for the Super Bowl and Rose Bowl for inspiration. As I was browsing Google for inspiration and reference material, I had one of my favorite car shows, Full Custom Garage, playing on the TV in the background. Ian Roussel was building a sort of "Great Depression period-piece" Model A Ford that looked like something one might have seen driving through The Dust Bowl. That got me thinking; "Super Bowl," "Rose Bowl," why not "Dust Bowl?" It could be a fantasy sports-themed sticker, a reference to the history of Oklahoma (my home state,) and a reference to a period where loads of people had to make do with what they had to make ends meet. It felt like the perfect fantasy sticker to throw on a rusty bike that's all about working with what I have.

I immediately remembered a certain detail from Ken Burns' documentary on The Dust Bowl where the dust was so bad, families would place their plates and bowls upside-down on the dinner table to keep the dust and dirt from getting inside them until they were ready to eat. So, I used that detail as the foundation for my fantasy "Dust Bowl" sticker. The "MCMXXX" refers to the year, 1930, when The Dust Bowl began. On design #6, "MCMXXXVI" refers to 1936, the year when The Dust Bowl ended. Basically, designs 1-5 are supposed to be an upside-down bowl resting on top of a dinner table, with a checkerboard table cloth on designs 2-5, and dust piled over the bowl and table on designs 4 and 5. Design #6 is just an upside down bowl with "Dust Bowl" and 1936 in Roman numerals on top. I was thinking I'd put that sticker on the opposite side of the tank, if I decide that side needs a sticker. So far, I like design #5 best, but there's still room for improvement.
View attachment 195051

So those are the rough designs for my stickers, but now comes the really interesting part: how am I going to make them? First, I'll sketch some refined designs on paper, then take those designs and flesh them out and finalize them in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I might deliberately fade the colors before I print them to make the next step look more convincing. I'll need to print the stickers using a laser printer. I don't own one myself, nor does anyone I know, but my local library has laser printers that I can use for 10 cents per black-and-white page, or 25 cents per color page. This means I could print up to 10 black-and-white copies or 4 color copies for $1 total! Perfect for a Shoestring budget build! But why do I need to use a laser printer instead of an inkjet printer? Well, that's where it gets really interesting....

I found some tutorials online for making aged labels and stickers by soaking the paper with wet tea leaves or used coffee grounds. I did some experimenting yesterday using some tea leaves from whatever tea Mom had the night prior, which resulted in this weird purple and red color, and some used coffee grounds for the rest. I tried a few different applications, as well as heating a few strips of paper in the microwave to supposedly enhance the color. I haven't quite figured out the best technique to get the discoloration I want yet, but this is a step in the right direction. I want these stickers to look old and brown, like they had been on the bike for at least 50 years, but I don't want them to stand out against the rust on the bike. I want the stickers to be less of a "highlight" and more of a "detail," like something you don't catch upon first glance, but you might after looking a little closer. Aging the stickers by staining them brown, folding and wrinkling them, and maybe even tearing them, will help sell the effect I'm going for on this project.
View attachment 195060View attachment 195061

I've got more progress and photos to share, so hopefully those will be uploaded here later today, if I can get them all edited quickly enough.
Your artwork/ idea sketches are unbelievable! WOW!
 
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Your artwork/ idea sketches are unbelievable! WOW!
Thank you Jude! These are just rough sketches, far from my best work. Maybe I should start a thread (or join one if it already exists) of some of my illustrations and graphic design works. I haven't been working on my art as much as I'd like lately, so having a bike project that needs some custom stickers helps give me a reason to keep my skills sharp and continue to pursue my passion for illustration. Hearing feedback like yours also helps give me a boost too.
 

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