Recycled Billboard Crafts, Attempt One

When I got a bicycle a few weeks ago, I set out to find an eco-friendly or recycled materials basket for it. After not having found anything online, I started brainstorming ways to make my own basket, and the thought of using billboard vinyls kept sticking with me.

I have some contacts at the local outdoor advertising company, so I called them and asked if I might be able to take some billboards that were being thrown out. They said absolutely, and I went over to visit the warehouse and pick a few vinyls. I ended up with two smaller vinyls and a larger posterflex. After picking up a few construction supplies, I began working out how to make a basket and cupholder.

Cupholder concept #1.
It was an interesting process, making these things over the past two weeks. One thing I will admit about myself is that I have trouble actually executing the ideas that come to me. And I'm impatient. But I tried to be thorough and slow with these projects to make sure they would be somewhat usable. I did end up going with a second idea for a cupholder, and modified the basket design a few times.

My goal was to have both completed for this past Saturday, the day of Mickey Shunick's memorial celebration. I met that goal, even though I decided the cupholder wasn't good enough to be used. And I modified the basket one last time right before departing - giving it a way to close at the top instead of remaining open.

The basket did well on its first ride. It held everything it needed to, and it kept all the contents safe from the dreary, rainy afternoon. It left me with a lot of ideas on how to make a better version in the future, and I'll take my time working on that better version.

I learned through this process that billboard materials are fairly easy to work with. It's not difficult to cut, it sticks to Gorilla Glue (oh, the Gorilla Glue...), and it's a great all-weather material. Because of its purpose, vinyl is made to weather wind, sun and rain - and stay durable. What better material to make bike accessories with?

I began the basket with a square piece of vinyl and figured out how to fold it to make a cube shape. I then marked the fold lines and made cuts so I would be able to redo it another evening.

The initial basket shape, held together with incredibly official clamps. Hey, I reused as much as I could for this project!

Once I was satisfied with the shape, I glued all the panels together and kept the structure with two large books inside.

I decided to make the basket look more polished by adding a trim to the top, using the actual trim of the billboard, so the top fold was already well-creased.

One of my biggest challenges was figuring out how to attach the basket to my bike. Important, right? I ended up deciding to try industrial velcro, which I was able to get by the foot at a local hardware store (score a few points for shopping local!) instead of having to buy all 15 feet in the box.

Cupholder concept #2 with its velcro strap. This concept mostly needs a way to stay upright instead of just dangling from the handlebar. But check out my color matching skills to the basket!

My bike and basket at the conclusion of Mickey's ghost bike memorial. During the memorial, native butterflies were released, and this beautiful one landed on my basket. I think it's a fitting dedication to Mickey herself and her legacy, and a nice little way to inaugurate the basket for Shunick the Schwin.

I'm incredibly inspired to continue making things with the vinyls, and only in part because I still have a metric ton of it lying around my apartment. The ideas are endless; the ability to execute them, less so. But I won't let that stop me!

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