Worn tyres turned into wearable art

Old bicycle tyres don’t need to go into landfill. A young craftsman is turning them into useful accessories. Jake Wilson Craw of Newcastle upon Tyne makes belts, bags and pouches out of old bicycle tyres and punctured inner tubes that would otherwise have to be thrown out. The tyres, some of them with very worn and interesting treads, are cast-offs from Recyke y’Bike, the Byker-based bicycle recycling charity founded by Wilson Craw’s mum, Dorothy Craw.

Dapper in tweed, and trading as ‘Man About Town’, Wilson Craw breathes new life into the tyres from his flat in Heaton. His Facebook page says he creates “bespoke accoutrements in materials nobody else is daft enough to use.”

Using leather-working skills, he hand-stitches with linen threads. The belts and bags are sold in local craft shops, on market stalls and online from Etsy and Folksy.

Got an old set of tyres that you’d like to save for posterity? For twenty quid, Wilson Craw can turn at least one of them into a belt sized for your waist. Colourful BMX tyres make wide belts; skinny and black road tyres make surprisingly effective dress belts. A chunky messenger bag made from fat MTB tyres takes longer to make and would cost about £130.

Wilson Craw also makes corn-dolly style characters made from old inner tubes stuffed with pearl barley. With the valve stem still attached this makes what Wilson Craw describes as a ‘fertility gimp’: “inevitably, when you start to use valves you soon make rude dolls.” (BikeHub.co.uk is a family site, turn to these pix on Flickr if you want to see what an excited inner tube looks like).

“I’m happy when making things,” said Wilson Craw.

At night he works in a city centre jazz, funk and soul bar. Why the tweed aesthetic? “It started when I was 19 and grew a mustache.” (He’s now 27).

“I curled it at the ends and couldn’t just wear t-shirts, I had to start wearing menswear.”

He’s not yet done a Tweed Run, the “London bicycle ride with a bit of style.” The next one is on 13th April in London and has been an annual event since 2009, inspiring similar rides in cities around the world.

“I’d like to start a Newcastle one,” said Wilson Craw.

Wilson Craw rides a Raleigh Connoisseur, a 1970s gentleman’s town bike. Naturally, it’s equipped with his hand-made bags and pouches. And no doubt when the bike’s tyres wear out he’ll know exactly what to do with them.

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