A customer has been reminding me for a while that he'd be interested in a small saddlebag, which I am happy to make for him. The fact of the matter is that I've made a number of saddlebags, but hadn't made one quite like he was thinking about, namely a compact bag that nestles under the saddle and hangs off either the rails or the saddle loops. Making a bag is pretty easy once the design, details and pattern are all worked out, but getting to that point is an iterative process that requires a lot of working, tweaking, testing, reworking, etc... So, I've been evolving a small saddlebag over the last month or so. Starting with sketches, then making a first stab at bag with no finish details to see how the shape, mounting, and function pan out.
Following the first test bag, I think I made at least four versions of the bag, with numerous modifications along the way before feeling like I was ready to send off a test sample to this customer (who really is part-collaborator part-client, which is a relationship I like) for his take.
He had some good feedback and now I feel like I'm ready to roll with this charming little bag. I've had one on my bike for the last month or so to hold the standby items I always keep with me (rain shell, tool roll, reflective vest) to allow room in my handlebar bag for the numerous extras cold weather riding requires.
Funny how moving one part into place opens things up. While we were on vacation last February, walking on a beach with our friend John, it suddenly came to me "Waxwing" bags. I told Nancy and John and the idea was greeted warmly. I knew it was going to stick, unlike the many previous stabs which never felt quite right.
Having the name in hand allowed me to start doodling and playing with logo ideas, and slowly the image above has taken form. It will likely evolve further, but I'm happy enough with it that I finally decided to get patches made. They will now go on all bags I make. Its a sign I feel solid enough about my work that I'm willing to attach a name to it. Fun stuff for sure!
The patches, made by Falls Creek Outfitters in Pennsylvania.
I took the sketch below (done on an iPad with 53's Paper app) and moved it over to Illustrator where I spent a bunch of time cleaning it up and trying to balance letters and give the waxwing some flow. I wanted to have a clean image but keep the handmade quality of the design, and I"m quite happy with where it landed. For future iterations of the patch, I'll beef up the lines of the bird and probably drop the town/state lettering. Like any design, its possible to keep messing with it forever, so at some point I just said good enough and got the patches produced, and I'm glad I did.
Cyclist and craftsman.