Red Curve is the somewhat secret side-project of award-winning Philadelphia-based photographer Michael Albany. I say secret, because when I googled “Red Curve” to learn more about Michael’s bicycle-themed jewelry and clocks for this piece, the first thing that came up was a Republican PAC with a very similar name! And next was the series of paintings by Ellsworth Kelly, one of which hangs in the MoMA and another at the Barnes. I knew that wasn’t right, based on what I’d already gathered from studying the Michael Albany Photography website. I visited the Red Curve Etsy page that Michael provided to us (It appears to be the only place where his Red Curve branded items exist online). I checked out the line of earrings, bracelets, pendants, clocks and more that Michael creates from repurposed bicycle chains and other small parts. I then asked Michael a bunch of questions that he very graciously answered. (I did not ask anything about what to do when somebody or something else comes up in a google search of your business name!)
PBE: Where did you receive your training in photography?
MA: Although I have taken a few courses online for specifics like single light portraits, I am mostly self-taught. I got my first camera at age 9 and the rest is history.
PBE: When did you decide to branch out into jewelry & clock making?
MA: The jewelry is a new venture in that i just started making recycled bicycle jewelry this past January. I couldn’t ride due to the weather and photography is notoriously slow in the winter. I had a bunch of old parts and chains laying around. Next thing I know I am making stuff. It was popular with friends and fellow cyclists so i kept going!
PBE: Did you choose the name “Red Curve” as a reference to your “MichaelAlbany” logo?
MA: The Red Curve is from the Michael Albany logo, good catch! The curve itself is actually the curve of my wife. Without her support and belief in me, the photography business and the jewelry and clocks would have never happened. She is the thread that holds me together!
PBE: Do you work in any other visual arts/crafts?
MA: Not specifically. I don’t paint or draw because I am just not any good at it. I am not afraid to try just about anything though!
PBE: Where/how did you get your training in metalwork/jewelry arts?
MA: Metal work started in high school and from there I have just had an interest. If I don’t know how to do something I look it up online, usually YouTube, and figure it out. That is the best part of it all!
PBE: Were bicycle-themed elements always part of your designs? (if not, when did you introduce them?)
MA: I have made clocks and lamps for years. Lamps have taken a back seat for now but they will come back in time, maybe this winter. I have lots of ideas. The bicycle theme started because I am a bit of an avid cyclist. I ride about 200 miles a week on average and I just love bikes. I have always had one, even if I wasn’t riding. I actually just got back into riding 3 years ago after I quit smoking 4 years ago.
PBE: What’s your favorite part of the design and/or construction process?
MA: I like the part where an idea grows in my mind and then I start working with a new metal or a new wood technique. Just as I know what is going to work is when the excitement peaks and stays there until that design is mastered.
PBE: Where do you find inspiration?
MA: I look at piles of parts and imagine what can go with what. I look online to see what others have done and find better and more elaborate ways to do things. That and I spend time in bike shops talking to the guys that work there. They have great ideas, some are more realistic than others, but once a seed is planted in my head its only a matter of time before I make something based on that idea.
PBE: What’s your favorite ride/route/destination?
MA: My favorite ride is a long one. I like to go out and explore. This year I have spent too much time on the SRT and I need to take autumn and do some more exploring. The best destination is the one that is just over that hill…
PBE: Do you listen to music while you work? if yes, what kind?
MA: The playlist varies quite a bit, but it goes from Neo Swing to old metal. That could be almost anything!