HOME-MADE BICYCLE ART WORK
Before home made art can be created there should be something to pattern it after. The pattern can be taken from the original bicycle itself or from researched sources most readily available on the Internet. Of course, it is entirely possible that no art work examples will be available and you will be forced to enter the land of creativity. You will have to make up your own design or attempt to recreate what you believe to be original appearance.
And here-in lies a dilemma. The bicycle under restoration and for which art work is needed, is a 1975 CCM Tour du Canada that I stumbled across a few years ago. Though the story surrounding the acquisition is about as interesting as they come, the bicycle's cosmetics were in a challenged state, to say the least.
Although there was no apparent oxidation, the TdC frame set looked as if it had some sort of disease. The paint had been touched up in a multitude of places, creating a pattern of off color splotches combined with bleed through oxidation. From a distance the bicycle was quite attractive, but up close the image was anything but pleasing. To add to the issue, the only proper appearing piece of art was a single Reynolds 531 decal secured to the seat tube. The only other still attached frame documentation was the Campagnolo decals attached to each side of the down tube. Finally, though not still attached, the head badge sticker, one of the sorriest looking head tube stickers I have ever seen was included with the purchase.
Now, a bicycle that arrives in the CCM's condition is difficult to restore simply because there appears to be no good color picture depicting what the original art looked like. I do have one black and white photograph in an old bicycle book that I purchased years ago, but the black and white image is useless for anything except locating the art work on the frame set.
There are other old CCM road bikes tucked away in The Old Shed but none are of mid seventies vintage. However, one of those old CCM lightweights, and I use that term ever so loosely, sported similar art to that depicted in the B&W photo. That bicycle, a CCM Formula 1, appears to have very similar art to the black and white picture mentioned earlier. Put another way, thanks to the green Formula 1, I at least have an idea of what the original art might have looked like. And I did not like it at all. Which in turn brings up another dilemma.
Should the bicycle be restored with the hope of making it look exactly as it did the day it rolled off of the show room floor, even though I think the art is ugly? Or should the bicycle be repainted in a color of personal choice and then decorated with non-original images? And this simple dilemma creates a real problem for me every time I paint an old road bicycle. Restore the paint and art work as per original issue or customize in accordance with one's own aesthetic preference?
After much consideration, it was decided that the art on the Tour du Canada would be a combination of store bought decals/stickers when available and the balance would be home made. The store bought would be pretty much the Reynolds 531 decal set and nothing else. The home made art would reflect my personal aesthetic tastes rather than attempt to mimic what I consider to be an ugly and understated image. Couple that with the fact that I could not find good enough examples of the art to reproduce anyway.
The bicycle would still be purple but not a $42.00 an aerosol can purple. Perhaps this needs to be explained. Before I stripped the paint off of the TdC frame set, I took the bike to a local automotive paint store and asked them to computer match the original color for me. Two cans of this custom mixed close to original color have been tucked away for future use, just in case. If I ever do find appropriate art and want to restore the bicycle to appear as it did the day it was picked up by its new owner back in 1975, it will be nice to have the original color with-in easy reach. But that special mix purple paint will remain unused for now.
With this in mind, the paint was picked right off of the shelf and for about five dollars per can. Different products were considered and finally the brand that most closely matched the original purple selected. In addition to the primary color of purple, the off white panel paint, the primer and clear were purchased at the same time. Total cost was under $25.00 and I can zip right back to the store for more if I run out of color.
Normally, I prefer to paint a bicycle frame set with a brush and I get pretty good results that way. Brushing painting is cheaper than going spray and certainly a great deal less messy. In fact, it is no problem to paint a bicycle's frame and fork set in the kitchen and get pretty decent results. However, I could not get a brush on color that even came close to the "Tour du Canada's" original shade. With this in mind, I decided to try one of the new plastic paints that did offer a very similar color but but only available in aerosol cans. The "Tour du Canada" would be the first bicycle frame set I have spray painted.
Both the down tube and seat tube were to be paneled. That means that an antique white band, about 10" long' will be painted onto each tube. The light color will allow for the use of transparent decal paper and there-in is the one major flaw with making one's own decals. When using the clear decal paper, the image will only show up well over very light colors. If the decal is applied over a dark base, it becomes very difficult to see.
When it came to the bicycle specific art, I planned to do my best to mimic font style as well as documentation content. In other words, the down tube would bear the model name, TOUR du CANADA followed by C.C.M., the Canadian Cycle and Motor Company Logo. The overall design of the down tube decal would mimic the design found on the similar vintage(?) CCM Formula 1. But that would leave the seat tube decal that had logos that would not quite work with the art plan.
Reynolds 531 after market tubing decals would come from the internet even though I have an original set of NOS water slide transfers tucked away for a complete and accurate restoration, should I ever choose to go that way. For the time being, the tubing decals required will be ordered from a fellow in Australia who supplied me with a decal set for my 1963 Peugeot PX10. Those decals are of vinyl sticker design and excellent quality. The decals are also quite easy to work with. The results are stunning, in my opinion.
Finally, the Tour du Canada's head tube sticker which I still have will remain in its protected envelope. The sticker also failed to impress and, in the interest of satisfying my aesthetic goals, I am going to install an old CCM headbadge that would have been common on CCM road bikes of earlier vintage. The beautiful windowed badge selected was pirated from an early seventies CCM Targa, the entry level offering of its day. I should add that the headbadge will be glued into place, not pinned with rivets, as it should be. Pinning the badge would require holes to be drilled into the head tube and I will not compromise the structural integrity of a frame set other than to make repairs.
Acquired or created, the images can be reworked in a drawing program such as Corel Paint, the program I am most familiar with. With the art work produced, printing becomes as simple as knowing what paper to use and how to use your printer. Or a digital file can be taken to a local sign maker where they will be able to reproduce the art in at least one of the mediums suggested - sticker, water slide decal or rub on transfer.
All that said, let's start with Internet research. More often than not, common decals images such as those pertaining to tubing manufacturers and countries of the bicycle's origin are available at bicycle specific web sites. Vintage Viking, Olmo, Benotto, or what ever you like can be Googled and investigated. You just might get lucky and find some very clear art work to copy for your project. About the only thing you will not have access to is the original size of the decal or transfer in question.
If you do find good art on the Net that is consistent with your needs, copy and save it to a file on your computer. Go with the best quality image that you can when you save the original. Next, it would be a good idea to ask the image owner if it is OK for you to use the copy to make your decal from. I am not sure if this is absolutely necessary, from a legal point of view, but it does seem like the right thing to do to me. Anyway, the choice on this issue is up to you.
If there is no art available in digital form from the Net, or other sources whatever they may be, you will have to photograph the original art that still remains on the bicycle and rework it. This can be a time consuming task and does require computer program skills. If you do not know how to use an image program such as Corel Photo Paint, then you will have to learn how to do so or forget about making your own art until you do. Of course, we all have a friend somewhere who does know how to do this and that on a computer. Why not enlist his or her aide if your computer skill levels are inadequate?
With all of that said, let's get on with creating bicycle specific art work. And the art can be in the form of a stickers, water slides and/or rub on transfers. Or a combination of all three.