Deus Customs (http://us.deuscustoms.com), also known as Deus Ex Machina, translates to “God from the machine” in Latin. Meaning: ‘a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object’. Can you think of a better name for a custom motorcycle company? I didn’t think so. Deus (pronounced ‘day-us’) has become more than just custom bikes, it has transformed into a culture. Starting out in Australia circa 2006, they now have locations in America and Indonesia. Their attitude of “everyone is welcome” opened the doors to their shop today to hold the annual Deus Ex Machina Handmade Festival. I had been wanting to pay a visit, today seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Located on Venice Blvd in Venice, California, the shop walls are filled with motorcycle artwork, memorabilia, books, and a generous helping of handmade goods. Today, their back lot was filled with easy-up tents housing other local handmade companies and artists, showing off their wares. The shop also houses the Deus Cafe. Stop on by and grab a cup of cappuccino!
Making my way around the yard I first ran into the artwork of local resident Chris “Wikid” Ouk (http://chrisouk.com). Chris’ street art style work struck my eye as he filled me in about his process. Using a combination of spray paint and oils, Chris creates art that inspires him and helps him remember his youth. He and I share the same love for old school ghetto blasters, or boom boxes if you will. Not that you couldn’t tell after meeting him. This piece titled “Baby Boomer” almost made its way home with me. You can often find him on the weekends selling his work on Venice Beach, so keep an eye out.
Zachary Winkler’s (http://www.zacharywinkler.com) American flag work stopped me dead in my tracks. He also wins the award for Best Business Card. I should really take a picture of it for you. Under his name is listed “Wars Fought, Revolutions Started, Assassinations Plotted, Stud Service, Tigers Tamed” and more. Truly awesome. His treated copper and reclaimed wood American flags are incredible.
You really need to see these in person. The below flag was treated with a heavy layer of fiberglass left rough.
I love letterpress. If you look up my Vimeo account there are most likely 20 ‘liked’ letterpress videos in my queue. Jim Callans of Old Star Press (http://www.oldstarpress.com) was at the show displaying some of his fine business cards. Very original and a great way to make a statement the next time you introduce yourself. He was using more than just paper too. A birchwood card designed for wood workers is a nice touch. I reached out to Jim after the festival and he sent me a link to his other work. His design site (http://www.jimcallans.carbonmade.com) is loaded with skateboard deck designs, skateboard ramps, his Red Bull Flugtag craft, and more. Definitely give it a look!
The hand crafted Vintech P-550 Tribute was also on display filling the showroom floor. Every inch of this automobile was hand crafted and gorgeous. Straight out of a James Bond movie! More: http://vintech-p550.blogspot.fr
It was hard to miss Alex Earle’s (http://alexearle.com) Ducati Monster Tracker. After spending some time with Alex, his name finally rang a bell. My off road friends will definitely remember the Baja VW Race Touareg. Alex was one of the head designers helping develop the vehicle. His Tracker concept was aimed at turning the Ducati Monster into a streetable flat tracker. In his words, “The logic being, Monsters are plentiful and inexpensive and they possess that beautiful Italian V-twin and sound. And what better way to support environmental sustainabilty than to give a design icon a second life? So by adding taller wheels and new bodywork, I get an entirely new riding experience and 2″ higher seat height suitable for those of us who are not inseam challenged. The change is dramatic. Raising the tail section and pushing the tank down below the triple clamps creates the horizontal look of the classic tracker.”
Every gentleman, and I am sure quite a few ladies, love a nice pair of leather boots. My Red Wing and Dr. Marten boots have many miles on them. After grabbing hold of one of Paul Kaufman’s boots, I noticed they were different from what I had seen before. Paul uses recycled aircraft tires and the finest leathers. The bottom of each shoe is going to look different depending on which part of the tire is used. Some have a nice tread pattern, some have writing from the side of what was once flying in the sky above. Every shoe is also hand painted at the finish leaving a unique look to every pair. Website: http://pskaufman.com
Paul’s Goal: To create authentic products, expressing the heritage of shoemaking and a genuine appreciation of the artisans who make the shoes. Shoes that improve with age; cool to begin, enviable after a few years, covetable for life!
I couldn’t help but notice Paul also had several bags on display. This bag is not only built to last a lifetime, it converts from a shoulder bag to a full backpack. The leather, recycled tires and high-quality metal pieces will look better with age. I can see this bag looking its finest with several years of use on it.
Opening up one of the smaller bags reveals the high-quality stitching and special sections made for an iPhone and writing instruments.
Many of us have seen handmade videos online. It’s a far greater experience watching it happen before your eyes. Watching Gregory Westbrook of Westbrook Makers (http://westbrookmaker.com/index.html) assemble a hat was a treat. All of their hats are handmade in Venice, California.
It’s nice knowing and seeing people still doing things the old fashioned way. There’s something special about handmade goods.
Decorative lampshades and orante wooden bases are typically the reason most choose lamp A over lamp B. That, or they want to “tie the room in”. Although I didn’t get much time with David of L-Lamp, I was intrigued by his work. David Kitz (http://www.l-lamp.com) is an artist and designer based out of Venice. He has created a lamp that looks just as good powered as it does powered off. I must have spent 2 minutes staring into the intricacies of the bulb. Unlike most lamps that hide the inner workings, his L-Lamp shows it off. The cloth cord is a really nice touch.
I have to admit, the Predator belt-drive cyclocross bike is what first caught my eye at Carson Leh’s booth. Unfortunately, it looks like his website is down but bookmark it for later, http://carsonleh.com. Carson’s leather saddles look to be inspired by men’s classic wingtip shoes. The saddle on his friends CX bike added the perfect finishing touch. Made by hand, he crafts saddles for everything from track bikes to cruisers. Hopefully, his website will be back up and running soon so you can pick up a saddle for your next custom build.
So I have to admit, when I saw this three wheeled creation, I had no idea who it belonged to. It wasn’t until I visited Alex Earle’s website, I realized he must have driven it to the festival. Here is a snippet from his website: “The GX-3 was my first opportunity as lead designer on a concept car. Completed in early 2006, it was the end result of countless hours in the shop, missed holidays and pure drive.The GX-3 stands as testament to what can be achieved with design clarity – no commitee – you just know the right thing to do. The concept allowed me the freedom to create, essentially, a motorcycle inspired vehicle with open wheels, no cabin and initially, an exposed engine. It also gave me the chance to design swingarms, engine covers/componentry, all weather driver’s apparel, panniers and frames. I worked on a much improved production version for an additional six months before we were discovered and stopped….some things are too good to be true.” Alex’s creativity seems to know no limits.
The day wouldn’t be complete without showing off a few of the Deus creations littered around the shop. Maybe next time I can get a peek into the inner workings of what it takes to create these rolling pieces of art.
In closing, Deus said it best, “The way forward is one down,four up.”
Editor’s Note: I want to thank Deus for inviting me to the event and thank all of the amazing handmade craftsmen and craftswomen that were involved with the festival. Please give them all a look and support more Made in the USA goods and services!