Now, Demon Frameworks has a full order book and a waiting list of
six months, with each frame Warmerdam welds taking at least a week,
usually two, to make. "I spend a lot of time on my frames to get the
satisfaction of looking at something and not seeing a flaw. Working
with your hands and making something is real. It's not something I'll
get rich doing, but richness comes in many forms."
Like Ross, Warmerdam is working on a more affordable range: "I'd
like to make handcrafted bikes more accessible to people without a
large wad of cash and I'd like to train three or four people to build
them." Despite his success in a financial climate that hardly
encourages spending on hand-built bicycles, Warmerdam believes
Britain is lagging behind the US in its appreciation of local, handmade
products: "Americans seem to be more proud to ride something made
in America than we are to ride something British."
Timothy Everest has similar sentiments about Japan, where he has just
opened his 21st shop: "The Japanese k have a much stronger
appreciation of handmade and I've tried to work out why. Schooling is
very rigorous in Japan, so studying something deeply comes easily.
Also, there's an appreciation of heritage." Yet, in both Japan and
America, there is enduring respect for Britain's handmade culture.
Crafts depend on skills being passed from person to person. As
Greenlees of the Crafts Council points out, if primary and secondary
schoolchildren are not introduced to craft, they won't be aware they
can do those jobs, leading higher-education courses to close. In
tailoring, though, there appears to be less shortage of interest than
opportunity. "The tailoring course at Newham College is
oversubscribed three or four times but there are only five or six job
vacancies in London each year," says Everest. "It takes time to train
good people. But lots of young people are interested and they're
looking for a craft, an apprenticeship and a lifestyle, not just a job."