MALLARD DESIGN - Inspirations - Bringing Ideas to Life
DESIGNER - The personal part
The farmhouse in downtown Phoenix, AZ, is starting to function as a studio workshop, currently learning saddle manufacturing history by repairing and putting new tops with foam on saddles from old cruisers being reconditioned at a local alternative bikeshop, no new bikes. Some were by factories in business before WWII, cotton thread, many no padding, just a vinyl top on a stamped steel body. This is serious work studying manufacturing by repairing and rebuilding things ...
So, by happenstance in needing a new chainring, that leads to using some of the sewing and upholstry skills hiding in the closet, it's how kitemaking became a profession as well, shopping for fabric for a new tent design being made ... now it's do you need a saddle redone, one that's been out in the sun too long? No problem, most are recovered in leather with marine vinyls used to match original colors, there are a lot of blue-white & red-white cruiser saddles out there. Some of the piping and things on any of these historic saddles required specially built machines so can't be restored with the original method but most can by the workshop's happy little Pfaff 269, it was designed for sail repair with built-in stitches, belt-drive to a 1/3-hp motor, industrial style so tents like large kites or bicycle saddles are all handled.
The habit of learning how things are made probably was from tolerant parents letting a child tear apart old radios and things and not having to put them back together, later that became the basis of the many designs here, some intended for volume markets, industrial designs, so those larger projects are complicated to put into production. The software alone is mass $$$ but then does fluid dynamics to bills-of-materials to downstream packaging, there's no other way today to make things in volume ... unless it's a classic saddle restoration, that can be done anytime! The day job was creating, developing and putting into production enterprise level secure web applications, a generalist but using VisualStudio and the .Net Framework, vs2008 runs this website and have vs2010 beta and it's a great improvement to the UI, not sure on all the tricks of course. To view a current resume <<click here>>
Right now tin cans are being used for brazing practice, it's not because of the economy. The newest fluxes and rods allow much stronger bonds at a step down in brazing temperature, think different color than standard brass when hot enough. This allows using bicycle specific tubing that is lighter, stronger but thinner to end up with a steel frame that's comparable to the composites in weight & strength. That means a darker red to learn during brazing, carbonizing flame, smaller filets, no short cuts are available since you get it after 100, not 3-5, tin cans are perfect getting down the skill for a road-racing frame that can handle stairs, potholes & jumping curbs being designed for dropping into Vantage on I-90 eastbound at 60-mph/100kph dodging road junk. The way things are going, mid-spring seems feasible to have it down & for Cannonball Classic framesets.
With innovation each cycle is changed to the next as the new is understood in real life, the computer can only go so far and that feedback makes part of what moves a design ahead leaving many one-offs of a sequence without knowing beforehand where it's going to end up, only what one tries to go for that round in trying to create a better machine, and that means taking it for a ride.
For the student of industrial design most ideas cannot be prototyped, one saves that for only the most important of things, hoping that there is that one great idea worth all one's resources and passion to bring into being from the many tries. So, this is really a designer's personal website, it was a dream to a kid hand-winding coils to shoot washers across the basement walls with 6-volt batteries and dodging the ricochets, some things you have to play with ...
The advice in the books from good designers is that maturity happens late, like one's 50's, ok, the studies became broader, no hurry, time to learn the base of things from adhesives & forging to plastics molding to concrete & steel shells, so, not always in a classroom type learning is needed to know why to do something and not be a slave to fashion, be a slave to function. Anyway this led to combined art, architecture, engineering and passions together with professional trade skills to in the end be able to think a design through with fewer gotcha's.
One of these designs was worthwhile to prototype, a bicycle related one and this before electronic bicycle computers, when a common item was a mechanical mileage counters, $5, or a fancy one that had a spinning cable like a car that actually gave the speed, so, it was for the racy model speedo to show cadence since racers are the main market.
An overlay to find cadence on a mid-1970's compact bicycle speedometer.
Pretty funny, but it worked! Just an overlay where if the rider knew what gear they were in, they would visually see the cadence reasonably well, but, unless working for one of the companies that made them, it's not realistic to consider getting a royalty out of something like this, enough to know it worked and looked pretty nice and a project that was affordable to a student budget. A collage of the paperwork created the overlays on acetates over graph paper, simple but done large and reduced so more accurate than the eye. Over years of designing and pecking at the outside of the business preferring to go for to the mountains instead, by happenstance and being able to sew became being a kitemaker with a centuries-long tradition of skills to learn, and there was able to think of an idea and have the patterns & pieces cut, sewn, sticks and bridled in a few hours to check it out.
In high school with heavy aspirations of becoming an architect to afterwards apprenticing as a production carpenter to be a better one, learning under Master Carpenter Carlos Arbayo and Journeyman Lucio Bonilla they taught me to cut & and not get hurt, we were the pick-up crew, doing our work and fixing what the sub's mess up. We hired out to do the cutting on the biggest roofs in town, a lot of crane operations, Carlos had every size Skill saw made and we used most of them, the area was Mammoth Lakes, CA, historically a mining town, then hunting, then recreation after the ski resort went in.
A patent is a lot of specific work, drawings to semantics to protocols with the office, but it wasn't the first serious try to author one, that's still sitting in the wings for pest control using textiles for three decades now, part of a deep pile of valid designs that in-house are viable but not to fund incrementally on wages as was done. A designer builds on these tries, it's obvious that's where the advice came from that industrial designers mature late, there's a lot to learn if you want to manufacture something at 1,000-units/hour, if you don't know the limitations the design will likely cost too much to tip the scale of whether to make them or not. The bicycle transmission is a high-volume item, it'll hit over 1,000-units/hour no problem.
Making kites came late, long after working at Thaw, the manufacturing subsidary of Recreational Equipment Co-op, and soaking up their designer teaching an apprentice in grading patterns as the bonus to getting a lot of the work into kits for home-sewers to put together in the late 1970's. After designing, building and sailing a small trimaran from Seattle to Port Townsend, WA, with a few trips into the Straits of Juan de Fuca, in rather bad weather at times so liked that it was seaworthy, came up to hull speed fast with plenty of major mistakes, making the whole thing including the rig & sails. This all couldn't have happened without my girlfriend at the time.
This era included sailing a lot, and included stints fishing commercially out in the Straits where the drawigns became better equipment and the passion ended with the decimation of the trolling fleet, much of that design work is still in the portfolio and this long interest has current work in a catamaran version of the racing 6-paddler Hawaiian canoes specifically to tackle Molokai Straits where the long single-hull with ama have been broken up a few times in extreme conditions, mainly from the long hull going way too high off the water then slamming down, the most common reason. So the catamaran is shorter, flexible and designed to have about the same wetted surface area so can't keep up in flat water with the long boats but is more handy in the chop.