PROJECT: Quirk Aurora Borealis
BUILDER: Quirk Cycles
FINISH:  You no doubt know by now that we paint a fair number of framesets for Rob at Quirk Cycles. Given the bespoke nature of the processes involved, every customer wants their bike to be unique. Some have a clear vision in their mind of what they want and we help fine-tune that vision; others however are happy to give us a minimal brief and relinquish the design and finish to us; these are our favourite customers (!)

For this bike, owner Hugo asked us to create a design inspired by The Northern Lights. This is a theme that has been tackled many times in custom finishing so there are to some extent, 'conventions' to adhere to if you want to do it 'properly'. It was our aim to try and emulate the effects of the Aurora whilst still including the traditional figurative elements that provide context, all at the same time as avoiding making a garish neon coloured mess!

After painting various test panels to try combinations of colours and products, we were ready.

The bottom half of the bike is a solid black while the top half is a deep, metallic blue. The transition from this black into blue is created with two contrasting silver-grey hues shaped as literal representations of snow-capped peaks in the near, far and middle distance; this is the 'classic' way of providing context to a Northern Lights finish because of course it creates a horizon and tells us which part of the composition is the night sky. These mountain tops feature on every tube of the bike and, as is a house favourite touch; they wrap an meet seamlessly.

If you're familiar with the Aurora effect, you'll know that vast swathes of coloured light dapple the expansive and seemingly infinite sky, which is of course what makes it so impressive. The paintable surface of a bike frame however, is neither expansive nor infinite!

It seemed logical to us, given the way the bike would sit on the ground, to divide the composition from top to bottom and commit the top tube to the role of "the sky". Initially we airbrushed layers of fluorescent, candy and pearl colours in detailed, dusty wisps across the top tube, as is the typical way to represent the Aurora in paint but to our eye, it lacked any real definition and clashed with the crisp mountain range we'd created as the horizon. After some brainstorming, the scheme developed and the fluro/pearl colours took on a more uniformed appearance across the top tube in the form of a long fade. This fade was given form and structure by being framed inside a flowing linear pattern used to represent the uniformed undulating nature in which the Aurora presents itself.

Finally, the Quirk, Columbus and Huez* (Hugo's company) branding were added in a dark silver-grey and the whole frameset was given a final matte finish to tone down the "in-your-face" colours.

Overall, this is one of our favourite projects to have completed this year and we hope Hugo enjoys riding it as much as we enjoyed the challenge of painting it.

[Images by Nikoo Hamzavi]