Upcycle Final Report: Paperclip Bicycle

For this project, I wanted to create something similar to the toothpick ping pong trail we saw in class. After brainstorming for awhile, I remembered a small motorcycle statue I purchased in Vietnam that consisted of nuts, bolts, and washers welded together.

Drawing upon this idea, I decided to use paperclips instead of nuts and bolts, and solder instead of welding. Similar to this motorcycle, I will be making a mountain bike. I envision it to have fully functional wheels and steering. I am going for an industrially chic look, so I’ll make a bike stand out of palette wood and more paper clips. I obtained a piece of palette wood but decided that it really didn’t look as good as I had hoped. Then, my friend mentioned that he has a piece of drift wood that he picked up when he was visiting Dominican Republic. Since the drift wood had a more interesting contour, I decided this would be a much better mantle for the bicycle.

For the project of creating a desktop sized mountain bike using paper clips soldered together, the process has been largely trial and error. Once I got the idea, I researched online, seeing if other people had attempted similar ideas. There seemed to be a decent amount of information regarding soldering paperclips, but this application seemed to be somewhat unique. Throughout this process, I continued to make a list of material and tools I would need.

I decided to base the design on the Trek Wahoo, which happens to be the bike that I ride. I printed out an image in the size that I wanted and would use it as a guideline for construction.

After spending 6 hours manipulating paper clips and soldering them together (which was surprisingly hard at first), the creation started to resemble a bike. For moving parts, I would have to create a bearing by wrapping the paper clip into a cylindrical shape, as shown below. This way, all articulating parts of a normal bike can be emulated.

After 6 more hours, the bike was complete. Using the printed out image was a great idea to get the proportions of the components correct.

Now, to mount the bike onto the driftwood. Since I wanted to add a glossy finish and protective coating on the wood, I sprayed it with lacquer several times.

I mounted the bike by putting a wood screw through the back wheel, and hanging the front wheel free so it can articulate.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it came out. The drift wood resembles a landscape that you might mountain bike through, and giving motion to the otherwise stationary artwork. The final product isn’t as mobile as I had wanted because it was difficult to get the soldered paperclips rotating in the paperclip bearings. Rather than an industrially chic look, I would consider this final product more of a futuristic metal-heavy dystopia. It combines natural elements (driftwood) with artifical creation (paperclips) that is common in many futuristic movies. My next goal will be to brainstorm another project idea for this class. I would like to keep the theme of upcycling, but add useful functionality of some sort. I won’t be refining this artifact, but I’ll probably keep it and have it sitting on my desk. When I look at it, it brings good memories of riding down a mountain.

Video presentation link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/kw3lsoogehgobuy/Video%20Feb%2015%2C%2010%2010%2033%20PM.mov?dl=0



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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Lots of great details! The wood stand fits so well with the mountain bike , making these with paper clips can’t be easy!

  • Maxfield Scrimgeour
    February 19, 2017 1:45 pm

    The final design of this is awesome. The level of detail that was able to be achieved is impressive. This is an interesting method to making a piece of art which i hadn’t thought of. I like the way that you included the wood in the final design as well to give it a showroom like look. Wonderful job on this project.

  • Alexander Lien
    February 18, 2017 1:55 pm

    Your piece has an exceptional amount of detail in it. I especially like the water bottle holder on the frame. The addition of drift wood as a place holder for the whole bicycle was a very good touch too – I think it helps set a scene for the bike. In the future it could be cool to find a way so that the wheels can roll.

  • Katherine Yarnell
    February 17, 2017 1:22 pm

    This is really cool! I like that you decided to model this after the bike you own, it makes it more personalized. Was it hard to shape the paper clips into the correct shapes? I imagine that could have been quite difficult. It is also extremely impressive that you were able to make the entire thing out of paperclips. Your report was well written, I liked the image you took of the bike you made over the scaled picture, it really shows how accurate you were in creating this. It was a good idea to stand it on wood, it makes the bike seem more like a mountain bike than just a regular bike. Really great job!

  • Preston Marcoux
    February 15, 2017 12:42 pm

    I think its very impressive that you were able to make this sculpture and that it even came close to resembling a bicycle. It’s a truly spectacular work of art and the drift wood coated adds in a really nice appeal to create a great aesthetic.

  • This is a really cool idea! It amazed me to see all the detail that was put in, and that the pedals and handle bars were able to move. I liked the idea of printing out a scaled version of the bike on paper as a template for tracing around it.

  • Alexander Thompson
    February 13, 2017 4:15 pm

    This is a truly impressive piece of work! This obviously took a lot of time and skill to solder the wheels and everything together. I really like that you made the whole thing out of paperclips, and it is dynamic. Plus, the driftwood base could not be any cooler, it truly matches the mountain biking aesthetic. It worked out great! And it really shows that you went above and beyond for this project. Overall, fantastic job!


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