The Owl and The Wasp went viral. What are these internet sensations that got more than 40,000 likes and 127,000 shares on the motorcycle movie site Why We Ride, 120,000 shares on Facebook, and sell for $3,000 on Esty?
They are model motorcycles made of spoons created in Washington state by James Rice, Pittston Area High School Class of 1981. His wife, Jeny Buckley, named the cycles for animals they reminded her of. She also got Rice started on his unique art. Buckley was making crafts with spoons, such as garden markers.
“I used to flatten them, and hand stamp whatever people wanted on them. I also made personalized hooks,” she explained.
Two years ago, Buckley made a mistake on a spoons order for wedding favors. “I had a lot of spoons I erred on, but didn’t want to throw them away. I asked Jim to make something cool for me.”
Three hours later, he came out of his shop with a basic motorcycle with wheel bearings for tires and wheels.
“That was before I went 100 percent spoons,” Rice said.
As he developed his art, the designs got more elaborate and he took more time shaping engines, wheels, tires and gas tanks from stainless steel spoons.
“His second and third took a little over a month apiece,” his wife said. “That’s when he was still hammering them and cutting the spoon bowls. The Wasp took about nine months. That’s when he made some custom tools to bend and shape them without hammering. The Owl took about four and a half months. They wouldn’t take as long if that was all he did, but he usually works around 60 hours a week at his regular job.”
All those months to build the cycles but only minutes for them to go around the world on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Esty, where he and his wife have a business they call Everlasting Spoonful.
CNN and Buzzfeed did online stories and Seattle’s Q13 Fox News in the Morning TV show did a story about the bikes, where reporter Bill Wixey called them the “Spoons of Anarchy.” Motorcycle Rides and Culture Magazine also is planning a feature article in an upcoming issue.
With the spoon bikes taking off, Buckley took down the ads for her spoon crafts at Everlasting Spoonful to concentrate on the spoon motorcycles.
“Besides,” she said, “somebody absconded with all my spoons.”
Rice spent his senior year at Pittston Area when his late father, Marvin, who served 26 years in the Air Force, moved the family to Avoca when he was assigned to the Air Force Reserve center in Wyoming. Rice’s mother, Carol, lives in Avoca. His sister, Amanda Bryk, lives in Dupont and another sister, Sherry Cebelar, lives in Harrisburg.
James joined the Air Force after high school. He retired in 2007. Today, he’s a military helicopter inspector for a civilian contractor at Joint Base Lewis McChord near Tacoma, Washington.
Rice was a good art student in school, but until The Owl and The Wasp came along, he had always been more gearhead than artist.
“I was good in art,” he explained. “I could draw, but I really liked taking things apart and putting them back together. I made my own bikes. I restored cars, built motors. In middle school, I built a mini bike. Anything that had a motor in it, I was intrigued.”
Rice said he’s surprised by the attention Everlasting Spoonful has received.
“I got 120,000 shares on Facebook. I never thought that would happen. People are loving it. Not just the biker crowd, everybody likes it,” he said.
Rice and Buckley find the spoons for the welded bike sculptures at thrift stores, yard sales and through their many friends. The Wasp is 27 inches and 8.2 pounds and has 12 spoon bowls on each tire and 12 spoon handles on each wheel.
Rice enjoys the reactions his spoon bikes get.
“I like the people’s faces. And that’s what I wanted. I wanted some kind of a legacy. Something to be remembered for.”