God is in the detail.
Mick Peel’s work has been showcased here on the blog many times and it wasn’t until I met Mick and saw his operations at Busyman Bicycles that I realized how much work goes into each of his commissioned works. If you’re wondering why I’m referring to Mick’s work as an art piece, it’s because it is. His hand-embroidered and perforated bar tape is only matched in beauty by his hand-embossed leather saddles. Mick’s work is stunning and watching him work in his home studio was a wonderful way to spend a sunny Melbourne morning.
Check out more photos from my Shop Visit to Busyman Bicycles below!
The previous times I’ve mentioned Busyman here on the blog, some commenter compares Mick’s work to some mass-produced bar tape. There are no machines here. Only the tools of a trained leather worker.
Mick teaches full time at the Uni and in his off-days, he works on custom saddles and bar tape for customers all over the world.
He takes yards of leather and cuts them into strips for bar tape, then hand-thins the edges out so it wraps correctly.
From there, he spools them up and they await an order.
And eventually, it’s hand-cut, perforated and even stitched based on the client’s needs.
His workshop is in the back of his home in Melbourne. It’s a well lit and soothing space. Birds chirp outside as the morning sun pours into his studio.
When I popped in to see Mick, he was working on a saddle of his own. Each saddle has a template that he’s either used in the past, or has hand-traced for the commission.
He then stretches the leather, after it’s been perforated or embroidered as per his client’s request. In this case, Mick used Kangaroo leather for his own saddle. It’s soft, easy to stretch and local. You can dye it various colors and it’s very durable.
Here’s a recent client’s completed saddle using a three-layer embossment.
And another client’s perforated seat.
Some people order matching saddles, bar tape and toe straps.
This group came out great! Now you don’t have to worry about your bar tape not matching your saddle or your toe straps. Mick uses the same leather for all three and the accents take the detailing over the top.
This is one of the first saddles Mick made for himself, on top of his restored path racer. Busy like a bee…
As the morning crept along, I had other shops to visit, so I left Mick working busily in his studio.
It’s one thing to visit a frame builder or a bike shop but this visit was a whole ‘nother experience. Thank you Mick for opening your home to me and allowing me to document your work.
If you’re working on a special project and you think Mick’s the man for your leatherwork, contact him! His prices are beyond reasonable. Check out more photos in a slideshow below.
These are also on my Flickr!