February 2, 2010 by Natalie
I did a major shop clean up week. This is news because I am a messy worker. I admire folks who keep a neat, organized and even appealing work environment, but I am not one of them. I have lots of flux, metal chips, and a scraggly old palm tree. I get in the working groove, with my hat and my apron and I work like the Swedish Chef. Cue the flying tools, the background explosions.
My shop is not without its charms, but I sometimes have to clear a path before I can really see that.
On Thursday, I had a photographer and graphic designer in the Sweetpea shop for a photo shoot. As soon as they crossed the threshold, I was apologizing for the remaining mess. They thought it was perfect. And seeing the shop through their eyes really energized me. They appreciated the strange mechanical garden of tools that only make sense in the presence of a bike frame. They were drawn in by the hand tools and the torch.
Everybody loves the torch. I do.
The photographer particularly admired my chalkboard wall. It reminded him of a certain Annie Leibovitz photograph in which the subject is photographed against a large and much scribbled upon chalkboard. I felt sheepish that I hadn’t yet put my chalkboard wall to use. I agreed to put some stuff up “to give interesting texture to the background” of the photos.
The effect of doing so was really kind of profound for me. In sidewalk chalk I drew key dimensions of fork crowns that I like to use, and I wrote notes about various specifications for braze-ons and thread tapping.
Stepping back, I saw a body of knowledge in my own handwriting. Tire profiles and checklists aren’t exactly throw pillows, but they really have softened my space. They reflected back to me the character of my work and my way of working. It isn’t particularly tidy, but it certainly looks like fun.