How It's Made
Listed below is a quick overview of how we make Kaden & Kai bracelets. For a more in-depth review of how we got started, watch the 10 minute video at the bottom of the page.
NATURE & ART
Most Kaden & Kai bracelets are inspired by plants, flowers, tattoos and modern art. I try to create designs that are familiar, yet different from what people will find in the stores.
Since the material is black, negative space is a big part of making bicycle tube bracelets. I lean on my years of corporate marketing and digital design experience to create the bracelet designs as flat, 2D images. I usually start with a basic concept that I have drawn, then immediately bring it into Photoshop to finish. There I can spend hours changing, testing and tweaking the design until I feel I have gotten it right.
CYCLE SHOP DONATIONS
When it comes to using used bicycle tubes as your material there is good news and bad news. The good news is, it's FREE! Thanks to local area bike shops, like the Cycle Loft in Burlington, MA, we simply drive over and grab the tubes from the bin they set aside for us.
The bad news is, they need to be sorted, cleaned and cut before we can do anything with them. Since there are multiple manufacturers and different thicknesses (not to mention variation in wear and tear), we have to inspect every tube for thickness and size before using them.
Once the tubes have been cleaned, cut and sorted by thickness, we are now ready to cut the designs into them. We currently use a few different processes depending on the design, but all are based on pressing the design into the tube. We found this was the easiest way to scale inventory. Knife cutting creates a lot of fails, but is good for prototyping. Laser cutting is not an option. The temperature for a laser cutting is too high for bicycle rubber unless done in a commercial setting.
The last cutting step entails manually weeding and cleaning up any stray pieces of rubber so they come out looking perfect every time.
Fortunately for us, we figured out very quickly a solution to make the clasps strong enough to withstand a lot of tugging or pulling. We simply apply an industrial strength hardener to the T-side of the bracelet and then let it dry. It can be done at any point in the process, but takes a few hours to cure so sometimes we do it before weeding.
One of the things I noticed early on in the process is that the bicycle tubes looked a lot blacker when they were wet. This made me wonder if I applied a rubber protectant, if I could keep that nice dark finish. Turns out it does! So the last step before packaging up the bracelets, is to apply a rubber protectant. This can be reapplied at any time at home using a store bought protectant or by combining one part lime juce and 3 parts olive oil. Just spread it across the bracelet and let it dry.
In this 10 minute video, I walk you through how the initial Kaden & Kai bracelets were made, changes I made along the way and how I prepare orders.