Monday, July 22, 2013

Wooden Bike Chain- Almost 40 years later!

I went to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and while there I majored in sculpture. Wood was my material of choice. (I still love it. Just check out my Pinterest Board on Wood!) I spent long hours in the furniture woodworking lab making anything but furniture. Not totally true, I did do some furniture design. But mostly I was enthralled with wooden machines.  I designed and built a number of them and my most successful was a large wooden, operational bicycle chain.

I had meticulously handcrafted and assembled about 10 feet of wooden chain links and two gears.

The entire apparatus got mounted on a wall and it was fun, participatory art.  Here I am 39 years ago demonstrating the finished sculpture.

The story continues. My wooden machines inspired my husband David to explore the concept further. He suggested I make them move on their own. I bounced the idea back to him and encouraged him to explore the concept and a couple of years later, Wood That Works (and my husband's career) was launched. He has combined his mechanical knowledge with woodworking and taken the idea to levels far beyond. (Link to complete history here.) 

Meanwhile the chain fell into disrepair and was reduced to hundreds of pieces in a brown paper bag hidden in the storage room. Recently, David requested that I refurbish it so it could be mounted in the entry area of the gallery space in his studio. This weekend, I approached the task, disassembling the entire thing, re-sanding and gluing it all back together.

We mounted it in the stairwell entry and now, when people ask how he got started in his unusual career, he can point directly to the early inspiration!

Bicycle Chain by Marji Roy • 1973-74

Life continues to be a fun, unusual, collaborative and creative journey! Truly unique and very special.

Previous links of Interest:

© 2013 Marji Roy, Ashbee Design

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  1. RISD - WOW! Not really surprised. But still, very impressed.
    Great story.

    P.S. You look about 12 in that picture - too young to be an art student.

    1. Would you believe I was 21? And soon to be teaching high school art ( still looking 12!). Most students looked much older than me! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  2. What a great and lovely story! I love that wood chain - I'd hang that in my home for decor! I think it's awesome that you put it back together and hung it in his office :)

    1. I would have put it in our home at one point as well- just not enough wall space. My husband makes wall mounted kinetic sculpture plus we have lots of large windows - both things I love. But it severely limits the amount of wall space for large decor items.

  3. What an awesome piece! I love that it actually works. I'm glad you refurbished it and gave it a place of honor. It certainly deserves it. Thank you for sharing it at What We Accomplished Wednesdays. Have a great week!


  4. What a great story! I have to share this with my son who is an avid cyclist. Such a unique, interesting, creative, piece of art - just love it.

    1. The initial inspiration came to me after David and complete a bike trip across the USA in 1972. We biked 3652 miles from CT to OR. So it was kind of a tribute to that trip.

  5. What beautiful story. Your initial piece is fantastic.