Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Add a little Cycling flair to your Christmas Tree

As you can see from my previous posts, I've already started with my training for ALC. However, there is one thing about ALC that might scare me a little more than the thought of riding my bike 545 miles in 7 days. And that would be the fact that I need to raise $3000 in order to even participate. That is a lot of money!!! The most I have ever raised before was a little over $600 for the Tour de Cure that I did in June this year. So, in order to help make the fundraising easier, I came up with a way to combine my love of crafting and a way to raise some money. 

I found a good tutorial online (http://www.bicitoro.com/guest-post-bike-chain-ornaments/) and made some tweaks to find out what worked best for me. I was able to get a lot of the supplies that I needed rather inexpensively. I found some cool colored chains online at a discounted price and then I got several used bicycle chains from Sports Basement for free since they were just going to be thrown away. The first thing I needed to do was to clean the chains. This sounds easier than it was. I ended up using several different cleaning solutions and cleaning the chains multiple times. Below are some photos of the cleaning solutions I used (Simple Green, Speed Chain Degreaser, Greased Lightning, and CLR). Make sure to get a pair of rubber gloves otherwise your hands will be stained with grease (trust me, I didn't have the gloves at first). 

Here you can see some of the chain that I had. The color chains were brand new, but they were pre-greased. I didn't realize that was going to be the case, so that was a little disappointing when I opened them the box. The used chains were covered in dirt and grease. This is where the gloves and little scrub brush really came in handy. 

After the chains are cleaned, the next step was to separate the sections I needed to make the different ornaments. For the 5-point stars, I needed 10 links. For the snowflake ones I needed 12 links. Thankfully, my bike multi-tool had a chain tool on it so I didn't need to go out and purchase a separate tool. As handy as this tool is, it is also a pain in the hand! The pins on these chains are stubborn (for a reason, you wouldn't want your chain falling apart when riding). 

This is where I turn to the tutorial (http://www.bicitoro.com/guest-post-bike-chain-ornaments/) because it really explains the whole process very well. Also, I forgot to take photos of this part of the process because with the paint on the chains, my hands got pretty messy with grease/paint & metal flecks. Not the best time to be messing with my phone. If you look at the black rubber part on my tool you can see all the red paint flecks that stuck to it. 

Since using the chain tool to loosen and tighten the link pins caused the paint to chip, I decided to clean the ornaments up with a little spray paint of the same color as the chain. I didn't originally plan on doing this, but I felt that it was better to paint them and have a nice solid color as opposed to leaving them with the chipped paint. So I went to the store and picked up some Rust-oleum spray paint in gloss. If you do this, you need to make sure that you do it in a well ventilated area, so down to the garage I headed. Luckily I had a bunch of cardboard boxes sitting around since we just moved a couple months ago.

Once the paint was completely dry, I added a little ribbon so that they can be hung on the tree. To wrap them up for easy distribution I created little bags with a Thank you label. I just used a template on Word and added a hand stamped bicycle. 


Here are about 30 of them ready to go. I'm going to be taking them with me to the ALC South Bay Thank You party that is being hosted in San Jose this coming Thursday. I am planning on selling them for $15 each with all of the proceeds going to my ALC ride. I really hope that everyone likes them and I am able to sell them all. I have put a lot of effort into this project (I started it back in August), so it better go well!

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