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.