Upcycled bicycle wheel extraordinaire
This Spring, Marie Wirth stunned us all with the fabulous bicycle wheel spinner she made for her garden. In fact, she posted a photo on our Facebook page and walked away with first place in our Flea Market Gardening ‘Upcycled Spring!’ Contest. You can see her spinner on our page header this month. Now, we would all like to know how she created it.
Marie’s stained glass garden spinner
Marie Wirth tells us, “My late husband and I first started doing stained glass back in 1979. We took a class from a great friend who was trained under Master Glass workers in Germany. We went every Wednesday night as our one night away from our newborn and 3 year old! We did about 7 windows between us. We did a dragon one for our little guys playroom window! When My husband died in 1994, I couldn’t stand to do it without him, and it took me 12 years to try it again. I started out making sun catchers for parent volunteers (I taught for 22 years). For now, I have gravitated away from basic stained glass windows, and prefer to use more unusual things to fill with glass. I’ve experimented with interesting grates and I’m always on the lookout for my next ‘victim’!”
Marie says, “I appreciate everyone’s interest in the stained glass bike wheel! I’m going to do my best to try to explain how I made it! Please know straight away, that this may look like a quick, easy, project…but it isn’t! It’s time consuming and will take several sessions to finish, but the detailed work is so satisfying when it’s done! Fortunately, I took some pictures while I was making mine, so you can see the pieces and the spokes foiled as in step 5.”
How to apply stained glass to a bicycle wheel:
Step 1: Find the wheel! Mine was on the side of the road on a junk heap and of course, no one could understand WHY I was pulling over, climbing over the garbage and digging it out! Gratefully, I know most of you know why!
Gather your materials
Step 2: Make a paper pattern of the shape of the triangle between spokes. Be as accurate as you can. They were all the same on my wheel so one pattern piece did it. This is how you determine how much glass to get.
Step 3: Materials needed:
Glass – I have a glass shop nearby that has a stained glass artist who rents a small space. She sells glass and supplies which is nice. But you can often get glass cheaper on line. Just Google stained glass supplies and you’ll find many kinds.
1/4 in. copper foil – get 2 rolls – I order on line and most prices are comparable, usually around $6 a roll.
Solder – needs to be 60/40 solder which can be found most economically at places like Home Depot in the electrical section. You will also need
Flux, which can be found there too. Most importantly you need a decent
Soldering iron. I use one I got on line made by Hakado, but you can find one at any hardware store that should work. It should be at LEAST 80 watt with a tip that isn’t too wide. You can use a wide tip, it’s just a little bit more awkward. I wear a mask because the fumes can be kind of powerful. the last thing you’ll need is a simple
Glass cutter, also available at any hardware store. Clean the blade occasionally using turpentine or paint thinner – just dip it every once in awhile and roll it over a rag to remove the excess to keep it sharp and free of glass particles.
In the workroom
Once you have decided on colors and have your glass you are ready to begin. The amount of glass you need depends on your color choices.
- Step 4: Using a sharpie, trace the pattern onto the glass on the smoothest side. Always cut on the smooth side. Hopefully, if you are tackling this project, you’ve cut glass before. Practice on some scraps first if not! There are videos online that can give you a quick how to lesson if you need some help.
- Step 5: Once all the triangles are cut, wrap them with copper foil, making sure that you have really pressed it on to the edge firmly. Use the edge of the work table, or any flat surface to do this. There is a tool for this as well if you want to go all out and buy one! An old spoon works too.
- Step 6: Now wrap the spokes that you plan to attach the glass to. Make sure again that you cover all the surface and that its wrapped well.
- Step 7: Flux all the surfaces of the copper on the glass and the spoke that you’re going to solder. Heat up the iron, and with the solder down first, then the iron, PULL the solder along the copper foil. (DON’T push it, pull it!) The solder should just flow over and cover the copper.
TIP: Be sure to flip it over and do the other side! Now repeat about a dozen more times…
In the garden
Marie tells us, “I mounted mine on two pieces of 1/2 in. copper pipe. I simply cut slits in the pipe that the wheel sprocket slipped right into. You may have a better way of doing it, but th at was my way using what I had on hand!! It can also be hung, which I did for awhile from a hook on my front porch. to keep it spinning I use a little 3 in 1oil to lubricate it every now and then.
Now, if you’re still with me, and you get one completed, I would LOVE to see it, so share it proud and loud!!”
We all loved the pastel glass colors in this spinning wheel, especially against the weathered fence and matching rose. A challenging project, yes, if you’ve never done stained glass, but Marie explains it well, and ….wouldn’t it be awesome, if you could…. ~~ Sue
More bicycle spinners
We here at FMG, love when an idea spreads from one to another. Here, Linda Timmons tells us, “I found this idea from you, Flea Market Gardening! My husband mounted it so it spins!” We think this version is fabulous!
“Here’s my version! Thank you for the idea! I found this tire for $1 at a flea market. I couldnt get the gears off so I decided to go with a steam punk looking vibe. I painted the wheel a dark brown and used a lot of browns, green, reds and yellows. I love the way it turned out. I will send another picture when my husband gets it mounted for me! 🙂 thanks again!”
Su Holohan I was inspired also! Not as detailed but I like it 😎yours is beautiful! Mine spins on its chain… haven’t figured out the around thing.