Upcycle Progress: Bike Chain Bonsai (Jamie Frankel)

Welcome back to my project dear reader.

It is a couple days until this project is due and to be honest I feel slightly flustered by the conclusion of this project. I have now cleaned all of the bike and moto-chain, welded the base and one of the branches. As it happens, it is much harder to weld the bike chain in the multiple inches of snow rather than when I started and welded in beautiful Feburary 70 degree weather. I have gone about welding my project using a flux core welder so that I could complete this in my back yard. I ended up making multiple tack welds in the base ring in order to stiffen a circular shape and then as the tree started to *grow* I ended up tack welding between two layers of chain. Overall this was a decent technique, however as more and more moto-chain was added and subsequently shaped, I ended up breaking multiple tacks which was particularly frustrating. I also ended up changing my technique from trying to hide the welds by welding from inside as this ended up not being time efficient nor did it allow me the precision to place the tacks exactly where I wanted to welding on the outside about seven layers up.

I am thinking that I will sandblast the tree when I have finished the form in order to remove some of the flux core slag. I do have a little bit of apprehension about that that this might destroy the tacks. I may add more tacks to reinforce and then sandblast and then spray paint to cover more of the tack beads. I am not sure about this step however as that may take away from the somewhat industrial aesthetic.

I am struggling to figure out how to finish out the top of the tree. In real life, trees are able to bifurcate smaller and smaller until they end, but I do not have this ability as bike chain circles end up being quantized (sized) circles and each individual link is a defined size. I have also been struggling to make it lean in the direction that I wanted and therefore it does not have as much of a bonsai feel as I would like.  I currently have what I would describe as a log. I don’t think that I will be adding any sort of leaves out of smaller wire so I want to have an appealing shaped tree rather than something that looks like I truncated my tree in order to force growth out of the nodes (which is a real bonsai technique).

I will let you know later what I have figured out soon. Wish me luck!

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Benjamin Robles
    February 17, 2020 11:19 am

    Presentation critique:

    Statement of Meaning: Love the fact that you went for one thing and ended with other, and you were very honest about it! I think the sombrero and eyes addition will be awersome!

    Ben Robles

  • I love how creative you were with this project; especially because its a bonsai tree which are particularly adorable. I love how you gave it an edge with the bike chain as your main material. As for your process, I’m sure welding takes a skilled hand to do which I think its really cool you can weld things! I totally get the frustration when working on a project and then pieces start to fall apart, but I think it is awesome that you found a solution it seems to most of the complications that arose. Good luck!


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