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Creative Process

  • By Brittany Davis
  • 20 Feb, 2016

This bag was not my idea

I've heard that there is no such thing as an original idea- and I accept that that may be the case. So what does the creative process look like for designing a new bag that I've never seen before and never made before? I'll see if I can break down the making of my most recent bag into the many influences, requests, stolen ideas, inspirations, bits of acquired knowledge, and other non-original ideas that go into making one very original bag. 

First, I had a return customer who requested a woven lanyard made out of bison the day I left on a road trip to Montana. I had made him a bison leather bag and he needed a holder for his dog whistle. The problem was (and still is) that nobody makes bison "lace" for weaving...it's all kangaroo and cow leather lace. But as I was on my way to Montana, I let him know I'd look around while I was there. 

In Montana I stopped by saddle makers, tack shops, antique horse equipment stores, and even a custom hat maker (check him out- most incredible hats I've seen  http://www.rockymountainhatcompany.com/  ) where I leaned so much about the beauty of braided leather and about Deer Lodge State Prison where the inmates make incredibly beautiful horsehair hitched hat bands.
So while there was no chance finding bison cordage or lace in Montana, I was amazed and inspired by the gorgeous, labor intensive craft work that I found. 

When I got home I taught myself the simple round braid and got to work practicing. The colors I gravitate towards are not original, but come from my love for brown and black that was discovered in Colombia (oh those hats!) and solidified in Argentina with the black and brown bullwhips. 
The rest of the bag design come from geometry (so not original) to ensure that it stands up on its own and will actually hold a good amount of stuff. Then there's the bag I saw in a shop in London while trying to think of smarter ways to attach handles to a bag. Most handles are attached at or near the very top of the bag and therefore necessitate a closure that does not include having a fold over top...usually a zipper (that most people never close) or a snap. This eliminates being able to utilize the raw edge of the hide left by the tannery (even the raw edge is someone else's idea!) So thanks to an unknown bag maker in an unknown shop in London, I realized that handles can be attached lower in some cases without disturbing the ever important bag equilibrium. 
I guess I have Levi Strauss to thank for the copper rivets. Probably would have taken me a long time to come up with that one. 

So thank you to the guy who wanted a bison lanyard, the Montana hat maker who had horsehair hitch hatbands, Colombia, leather tanneries, Geometry, an unknown purse maker, the internet (just throwing that one in there because I'm sure this bag would be different without it), and Levi Strauss. 
By Brittany Davis 11 May, 2017
To begin, here is a real life sample pack list for our typical weekend away:
By Brittany Davis 22 Jan, 2017
I was approached a few months ago by a lovely editor from Rodale's Organic Life Magazine , asking to feature my Las Pampas purse in the March issue of their magazine.  All press is good press and I was thrilled to take part. 

She asked me a series of questions that really got me thinking about my business- mostly how I started, and why I do what I do the way that I do it. 

When the magazine went to print she wrote me and said that my bag was featured in their "Top 100" section and her exact words were "find attached the small but mighty! blurb on Brass + Blade." She was unable to include a longer piece (I got 8 words!) but the interview questions prompted me to put into writing the more personal and in depth story behind Brass + Blade. 
By Brittany Davis 21 Mar, 2016

Just like it’s impossible to pick a favorite child (or so they say…) I have a hard time picking a favorite Brass + Blade bag. They’re all so different, and each with its own qualities and use cases that picking a favorite wouldn’t just be an act in futility, it simply doesn’t make sense because it always begs the question, “favorite for what?”

However! (of course there’s a “however,” otherwise this post would have stopped right there) However, every so often I find that I have made a bag, usually just a first attempt at a new concept, that I absolutely will not part with.

This backpack design came together quickly and I decided just as quickly (before I was even finished) that it was my new go-to bag….for test purposes! That’s what prototypes are for, right?

While testing for strap length and comfort, weight limit suitability, magnetic snap strength, interior pocket position, and all around easy and joy of use, I traipsed around the East Bay for a week collecting compliments on my new bag!

The most recent and final test came on a two-hour waterfall hike in the Hawaiian mountain rainforest (poor me) when half way through the hike it started to rain enormous Hawaii rain drops. Both the backpack and I got very wet while the contents of the bag stayed surprisingly dry.

By Brittany Davis 20 Feb, 2016
I've heard that there is no such thing as an original idea- and I accept that that may be the case. So what does the creative process look like for designing a new bag that I've never seen before and never made before? I'll see if I can break down the making of my most recent bag into the many influences, requests, stolen ideas, inspirations, bits of acquired knowledge, and other non-original ideas that go into making one very original bag. 

First, I had a return customer who requested a woven lanyard made out of bison the day I left on a road trip to Montana. I had made him a bison leather bag and he needed a holder for his dog whistle. The problem was (and still is) that nobody makes bison "lace" for weaving...it's all kangaroo and cow leather lace. But as I was on my way to Montana, I let him know I'd look around while I was there. 

In Montana I stopped by saddle makers, tack shops, antique horse equipment stores, and even a custom hat maker (check him out- most incredible hats I've seen  http://www.rockymountainhatcompany.com/  ) where I leaned so much about the beauty of braided leather and about Deer Lodge State Prison where the inmates make incredibly beautiful horsehair hitched hat bands.
By Brittany Davis 02 Feb, 2016
Looking for The West? If you're in California then you've gone too far. You've passed it, it was back there surrounding that expansive, triangular state that people hate driving through so much that they think its best use would be to dump nuclear waste in it. 

When you stand on the West Coast, and you see the Pacific Ocean, maybe you think that you're as far West as you will go (at least in the lower 48). By geographical measurements you might be right. But this winter I traveled East, across Nevada covered in a sheet of snow (a state that I personally love driving through) and then North, and into country that embodies a history, a culture, and a kind of wild beauty that until now was somehow never fully impressed upon me. The West, with a capital W, the one that I hold in my mind as being distinctly different from the rest of this country, is hundreds of miles to the East of where I live on the west coast. 

Soon after driving out of Reno, NV, the ground was covered with snow every day of the trip. The open rolling fields of Southern Idaho waiting for spring potato planting were blanketed with thick, perfectly smooth white snow. Driving over Pine Creek Pass into Teton valley the full moon rose behind the Grand Teton mountains and the valley and the mountains glowed blue-white in the bright moonlight. Snow fell in tiny, perfect snowflake shapes in Big Sky, Montana. 
 Somehow, I wasn't expecting that the whole of the 4 states we drove through would be totally covered in snow, but covered they are.

I stood on the edge of the river where the Oregon Trail forked South West to California, and North West to Oregon. I stood overlooking the stunning Shields Valley, named and crossed by Lewis and Clark in 1804. I stood on peaks of the Rocky Mountains with 360 degree views of an endless, craggy  expanse of rock and ice. 

In The West, snow boots have fur because they need the warmth, men and women wear cowboy boots because they're good for riding horses, and if you slide into a snow-filled ditch on a back road while looking at a heard of elk, the first four people (including a semi truck driver) will stop to help get you out. 

East of California, the gas prices are consistently hovering under $2 per gallon so far this year. That should be more than enough of a reason to jump in your (all wheel drive) car and drive East to get to The West...even if you hate driving through Nevada. 

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