Rinken’s Wrench N’ Ride Gets ‘Em on the Road Again

"The Wild Ones" with Marlon Brando imprinted the American imagination  with the sexy biker image.

The Wild One: Marlon Brando didn’t need no fancy ‘lectronics on his bike.

MY 1979 KZ 750 WASN’T MUCH TO LOOK AT BUT it was clean with no major dents or scratches and nice chrome fenders and a seat in fine shape. Some days I’d ridden longer than 12 hours at a stretch. The bike always made it better than me. Besides burning oil it was mechanically sound. Except the irreplaceable mechanical ignition points—which lasted a decade. The bike’s book value was $70. One final time I file the points and barely made it to the nearest shop that would deign to take it.

That was 13 years ago. I still have the manual.

 Now Chris Rinken tells me $30 would put it back on the highway.

The author sitting atophis ex-motorcycle, a '79 Kowasaki KZ-750, Blue Book value $70.

The author sitting atop his ex-motorcycle, a ’79 Kawasaki KZ-750, Blue Book value $70.

“[Expletive deleted],” I say.

“I’m sorry,” he replies.

Rinken, owner of Wrench N’ Ride Motorcycle Repair, a small garage beside his home on the corner of Seigel and Bogart streets, works exclusively on pre-electronic, vintage motorcycles—anything ’81 and older. He tells stories that start out like mine.

“One guy kinda had no idea what to do to get his ‘72 CV 350 running. It was in storage for six years and he paid $600 for it and owned it for two years but it never ran. He was pushing it around from apartment to apartment, and—a total fluke—luckily for him there happened to be motorcycle shop,” Rinken says. “He was super pumped about it.”

Rinken didn’t replace a part, he just cleaned the carb. “The bike just needed some care,” he shrugs. And that’s all he does. Rinken stays away from body work or welding, but he can recommend someone.

“If it runs I completely leave it at that,” he says. Rinken first started riding at 11 and learned to work on bikes from his dad. Basic, simple stuff. “Nobody knew how to do vintage maintenance,” he says. “They weren’t raised with a dad who knew all that stuff.”

After graduating from law school in ’12, into the worst economy this side of the Depression, he opened Wrench ‘N Ride. Today he has eight vintage bikes in the garage. One ‘64 Honda 90 cc that he laid hands on is worth $2,500 dollars now.

A shop like Wrench N’ Ride is rare, unique even, considering the sheer number of motorcycles in Brooklyn. To help people buying vintage bikes make sure they weren’t being scammed, Rinken offered a second set of eyes. “A couple of customers wanted to learn basic maintenance, basic inspection stuff,” he says, “just as a way to make sure to get it on the road and avoid really expensive bills from the repair shop.” He’s starting classes now. “We have motorcycles in the shop, and we have extra tools. We get people here who want to learn about bikes, who maybe want to get into it, try it to see if they like doing it. It’s all about getting people into the community.

“I’d rather have a bike that’s worthy,” he says. “The last bike the shop sold was an old Honda 360 that had flames on it. It does a hundred miles an hour if it needs to.”

Wrench N’ Ride Motorcycle Repair

315 Seigel Street

Bushwick, Brooklyn NY 11206

608 695-8392

 Phil Scott is an executive editor of Brooklyn Artisan, a former managing editor of Omni magazine, and the author of seven books, mostly about the history of aviation. He lives in Rockaway.

Open Studio at Maria Castelli: Elegant Bags to Covet

 

Cobalt blue bag is soft and chic.

Cobalt blue bag is soft and chic. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool)

SORRY, FOLKS, THE DISCOUNT WAS JUST FOR THE DAY, last Saturday, the first Open Studios at Industry City in Sunset Park, and you missed it. But you can feast your eyes anyway, as Brooklyn Artisan did, while talking about the Maria Castelli business that just launched last month.

“We just launched,” daughter Veronica explained, “but we’ve been working on it for about a year and a half.” Though her lovely face was free of bags under her eyes or furrows in her brow, her expressive body language managed to suggest some weeks of round-the-clock effort.

“It’s a lot of work,” she confided, as her mother talked to a handful of serious-looking people on the other side of the room. Retail buyers, we hoped, who’d put dozens of these handsome bags into distribution.

Maria Castelli leather bag in black

As some Belle Dame d’Industry City might say, Chic is the thing with feathers.

The bags are rich looking with thick pebbled leather, yet flexible and almost slouchy in construction so that they’re easy to wear on your shoulder. (Just don’t load up with the Yellow Pages or bags of river rocks and you’ll be fine.) Although some small pouches on another table had the ubiquitous industrial zipper as design statement du jour as well a closure, the handsome shoulder-able bags were clean and as zipperless as Erica Jong’s famous **** (Fear of Flying).

We also liked the alternate bag in black that we spotted on a side shelf. The leather tassel of the blue version was replaced by two bunches of feathers on the black. Irresistably touchy-feely—in fact, we were quite tickled by them.

A co-founder of the erstwhile Getting It Gazette, Anne Mollegen Smith also writes about personal finance for investopedia.com. 

See our other Industry City Open Studio coverage, with more to come later this week.

Yum! Ample Hills Creamery Cookbook is Here

 

Ample Hills Creamery Cookbook

Co-authors Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna included Ample Hills’ famous salt crack caramel recipe in the new cookbook, which can be yours for $25.00. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool)

YESTERDAY WAS PUBLICATION DAY for the new Ample Hills Creamery cookbook, and copies were stacked up on the counter at the popular premium ice cream store on the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Bergen Street, in Prospect Heights.

Proprietor Brian Smith, right,  was on hand in a front booth to inscribe copies. He confirmed to Brooklyn Artisan thatAmpleHillsBrianSmith the company’s new location in Gowanus is scheduled to open by late June. Ice cream will be made right on site as at the Prospect Heights location.

“Our business is more than an ice cream store, really,” Smith said. “It’s a neighborhood hangout.” The Prospect Heights store has a toddler play area, just visible over Smith’s shoulder.

The familiar Ample Hills ice cream carts will be back out in their locations near playgounds and parks this summer also. Smith co-founded the business with his wife and cookbook co-author,  Jackie Cuscuna.

 

 

Kickstarting Brooklyn

Sogoal Zaghardi produces gorgeous, artful and sometimes irreverent cookies and is seeking to expand her Sogi's Bakeshop with the help of a Kickstarter campaign.

Just one of the many Brooklyn projects raising funds on Kickstarter:
Sogoal Zolghadri produces artful and sometimes irreverent cookies
at her Sogi’s Honey Bakeshop.

THE MOST RECENT CREDIT CRUNCH began in 2008 and  reportedly ended this summer. Remember those images of Lehman Brothers staff tossed to the sidewalk with their little boxes of belongings? In the months following, credit dried up and small businesses were starved for the financing needed for growth and hiring, laying the basis for a long grueling recession. But also within those same months—in April 2009—a small startup launched in Manhattan that has become the go-to funder for creative projects: Kickstarter was born. In the four years since its founding, Kickstarter has gone viral and raised pledges of more than $870 million in crowd-sourced funds from more than 5 million backers. (Like any good Internet company, it posts its stats online.)

The premise of Kickstarter is that entrepreneurs, artists, designers, musicians or filmmakers with ideas bigger than their bank accounts can launch a campaign on the Kickstarter site, set funding goals (which can grow over time) and deadlines, provide incentives to investors for various funding levels, and generally plead their case to gain followers (think Facebook “likes” with dollar bills attached). The ideas flourish or languish, gaining financing or not in a mysterious financial Darwinism. Some projects blow past their target budgets by tens of thousands of dollars, while others fizzle out despite their merit.

Given the power of Kickstarter for small creative inventors, makers and producers, Brooklyn Artisan will be covering it as a financial and manufacturing beat, highlighting the notable, successful, hopeful, and even the occasional noble-yet-doomed project. As well, we will provide advice, tips, strategies and tactics to aid in successful campaigns.

Brooklyn is certainly well represented, with more than 2,000 projects currently raising funds, more than double the number of projects coming out of London, for example. To look for promising projects or to make sure your investments stay in borough, Kickstarter provides city-based discovery.

The Brooklyn Brief commuter bag by Owen & Fred of Greenpoint comes with a handy inspirational
quote screen-printed on the inside.

Today, we’re highlighting two projects. The first, by Greenpoint-based Owen & Fred, is a series of bags (above) that is tantalizingly near to reaching the $45,000 campaign goal. The bags are promised to be durable, sustainable, meticulously detailed and U.S. made. One nice touch is the inspirational quotes screen-printed on the inside, for your eyes only.

Sogi’s Honey Bakeshop (picture at top of post) set less ambitious goals: raise $6,500 to buy supplies and a bigger mixer to aid the creation of the hand-painted cookies that have already attracted the attention of Martha Stewart Weddings and are popular on Etsy. Happily, baker Sogoal Zolghadri has raised the money and then some.

It can be a lot of work and planning to produce a campaign that meets or surpasses its goal. Kickstarter itself provides some basic tools and information to get you started. But who knows—next time there is a big shakeup in the financial world, those staffers might be seen shlepping their belongings in one of your Brooklyn-produced duffel bags.

Moving Parts: Brooklyn Furnishings Design at The Factory Floor

SMALL, MEDIUM, AND LARGE: Otherwise, it’s hard to categorize the ingenious designs of Brooklyn makers at The Factory Floor in Industry City in the recent two-weekend show. But starting small, Brooklyn Artisan will do our best, for the record.

Small batch, small scale, big thinking at bhold design: Product development under the eye of Susan Taing, founder, takes certain characteristics from the MakerBot desktop 3D printer used to produce prototypes in the bhold lab. Double-walled thermal saki cups, for instance, with little fingerholds on one side.

Using the MakerBot 3D desktop printer, b-hold can turn around and refine prototypes in a few hours that might take days in traditional development cycles.

Using the MakerBot 3D desktop printer, bhold labs can turn around and refine prototypes in a few hours that might take days in traditional development cycles. (Photo: Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool/dfs)

Or—our favorite, above—colorful little two-tone, two-piece objects that separate: the outer C-shape that hangs on the restaurant table and holds your bag or helmet by its handle or chin strap; and the inner part that emerges to wind and store your earbuds tangle free. You can work with the bhold labs on your own designs; contact susan@bholddesign.com. Or like us, you can just stand at a design show and play with the appealing objects fitting them together and taking them apart over and over again as minutes tick by. 

Founder/owner Mark Righter crafted sliding shelves that don't tip, thanks to the sliding dovetail joint.

Founder/owner Mark Righter crafted sliding shelves that don’t tip, thanks to the sliding dovetail joint. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool/ams)

Small detail, big advantage: Cambium Studio is a Brooklyn-based woodworking furniture and design company founded by Mark Righter. From its Greenpoint location, Cambium will create custom designs for clients, and on its website offers a portfolio of pieces of its own design.

Talking shop with a potential client, Cambium Studio's founder Mark Righter, with coffee, is next to his shelves with sliding dovetails. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool/ams)

Talking shop with a potential client, Cambium Studio’s founder Mark Righter, with coffee, is next to his shelves with sliding dovetails. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool/ams)

What caught our eye at The Factory Floor was deceptively simple but elegant shelving for display of favorite small objects—a place to put the candles, the Japanese vase, the framed photo—that can be adjusted as the array of objects changes. How?

The framework is hung from a secure cleat on the wall, but individual shelves operate on a sliding dovetail joint. The shelves, using bamboo, are beautiful finished and the sliding function gives you an excellent excuse to pat them and fiddle with them for the pleasure of touch.

Then there’s the MidCentury-looking coffee table with lift up hinged covers on its four storage compartments. Three of the covers are in a 60s’s orange and one is in bamboo strip laminate. Fittingly it is named Mod Quad by Wonk, its maker.

David Gotl lifts the four cubby covers of the streamlined coffee table,

David Gotl lifts the four cubby covers of the streamlined coffee table,

Other combinations of finishes to suit individual clients are possible, Wonk’s website says.  In fact, since each piece is custom-made for you, you are confronted with swatches and urged to pick from them. Takeaway notion? Wonk if you love finishes.

The laminate frame holds the cushions in place; upholstery fits cushions closely.

Pratt grad’s design: The laminate frame holds the cushions; upholstery fits cushions closely.

Change the color statement (or hide the pizza drippings) at will.

Change the color statement (or hide the pizza drippings) at will.

Along with others, Pratt Institute was a co-sponsor of the design show at The Factory Floor.  At the Pratt Industrial Design booth—Pratt Institute is, by the way, based in Brooklyn—Brooklyn Artisan was engaged by a very clean-lined yet comfortable loveseat. The foam cushions made it quite sittable. And as its Pratt graduate designer demonstrated, the cushions can be flipped to your choice of color contrasts.

More coverage from the recent Brooklyn design show at The Factory Floor in Industry City, Sunset Park, is to come in the next few days. For Brooklyn Artisan’s prior coverage, follow these links:

Overview by Bruce A. Campbell

Alexandra Ferguson: Done is Better

Sleeping on The Factory Floor

The Art of Sleeping on The Factory Floor

Materia Designs's centerpiece was made of reclaimed chestnut.

Materia Designs’s centerpiece was made of reclaimed chestnut.

AT THE BROOKLYN DESIGN SHOW LAST WEEKEND this beautiful bed was practically a show-stopper for Brooklyn Artisan: We wanted to kick off our boots and lie right down in the calm surround of the Materia Designs booth. Manners prevailed, however, so remaining upright, we talked with owner/designer and craftsman Matthew Enser of Materia Designs.

The accents of black metal wrapping the bedposts made of reclaimed chestnut added a touch of elegance to the spare design with its handsomely mortised lattice headboard. The booth also showed good-looking three legged lamps, a sweet rocking horse, some chairs, an eye-catching striped storage bench, and more. A beautiful complement were the graphic textiles selected and/or designed by Megan Sommerville, Matthew’s partner. The confident metal zippers on the reading pillows came off looking industrially chic rather than scratchy or snaggy.

So…Kerhonkson?, we asked (thinking, Bless you!). Right outside of Kingston, he said, a little ways up the Hudson. Not Brooklyn?, we pushed. “Oh, Materia Designs used to be in Brooklyn,” Matthew assured us, “we love Brooklyn.” Before Brooklyn Artisan could probe about whether cost was a factor in the move, Ensner explained: “We were driving up that way, and—well, we fell in love with a big barn.” Enough said.

More Brooklyn Artisan coverage of the recent show: Alexandra Ferguson profile and The Factory Floor: Meet the Makers, overview by Bruce A. Campbell.  The Factory Floor is part of artisan-friendly Industry City within the Bush Terminal complex in Sunset City, Brooklyn.

‘Done Is Better Than Perfect’ Proves It’s a Winner’s Slogan

Alexandra Ferguson started small on etsy.com but now it's her full-time career.

Alexandra Ferguson started small on etsy.com but now it’s her full-time career. She has more ideas in the pipeline and at least one already in production.  (Photo: Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool)

INSPIRED BY  Bruce Campbell’s report, yesterday another Brooklyn Artisan team visited the design show at The Factory Floor (Industry City, 241 37th Street in Sunset Park, just across from Costco), and there encountered Alexandra Ferguson, about whom we’d written earlier. Hers  would easily win a “Cheeriest Booth” award, with its colorful pillows enticingly arranged. You could almost hear the mental clicks of recognition as visitors to the show read them, nudged their companions, pointing out favorites to each other.

As Alexandra has recounted in her blog, she started her business in 2009 just about on a whim and a dime, posting on etsy.com a few pillows she’d made and expected to give friends as surprises. Business plan? Nada. Capitalization? Ditto. “Done is Better Than Perfect” was her slogan.

Sales were great, so she added more designs—sticking to environmentally friendly materials, of course—and her business grew and grew until it became her full-time livelihood. She moved it out of her apartment and into Mom’s garage in Westchester.

Alexandra Ferguson: The Business has taken another great leap upward, Alexandra (the person) says. Last summer she had four people working for her, but now to keep up with fall and holiday demand, she has added nine more employees. Her office and production space? Right here in Industry City. She moved it back to Brooklyn in July of this year. There are new product ideas, too. A makeup case, for instance.

Brooklyn Artisan had to ask: Where did she get her mantra? From Sheryl Sandberg, the author of Lean In, Alexandra said. And yes, we couldn’t resist; we told the story of originating the “Done is better than perfect” saying at Redbook magazine in 1979. You can read that backstory here.

Until we were starting Brooklyn Artisan, we had no idea the quote had gone viral. Cool.

Anne Mollegen Smith is editor and publisher of brookyn-artisan.net, and is a former editor-in-chief of Redbook, Working Woman, McCall’s, and the Art of Simple Living. 

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