Let me tell you about an exciting new etsy seller – my Dave! If you’re a long term reader, you may remember he’s been making amazing one off bags for a while. Now he’s finally got round to setting up shop on etsy and I’m very excited to be the first person to feature his awesome products.
Since it was a bit weird with me already knowing so much about his work and creative process, I decided to just pretend not to and to interview him like I would any etsy discovery. It’s been fun and interesting to read the way he writes!
Oh and there’s a giveaway too, but first, on with the interview!
Tell me about yourself.
I’m a research scientist in ‘real life’ who’s about to hit the big 30 this year. I’m a guy who enjoys lots of hobbies and a lot of these hobbies can be categorised into the broad subject heading of making things. I really enjoy thinking through problems and working out the best way to approach things. This is kind of how I got into making bags, but I’ll cover that in the next question down the way. My Mrs to be gets quite annoyed at all of my projects because I really like starting things and thinking through the problems and then leave them half finished. It’s a real challenge to motivate myself to finish a project off!
How did you get into making bags?
This started of by accident. I had my Mum’s old sewing machine (a Jones machine from 1976) and I think the idea was to use it to turn trousers up or something. Anyway, one day I was unpicking the back pockets from an old pair of jeans that were quite destroyed with the intention of using them on something else (that’s right, another project). Once I’d got them off, I realised that there was actually quite a lot of material in a pair of jeans and decided to pull the things to pieces and use the material to make a tote bag for Franca. I did this and found that I really enjoyed working out how to fit all the shapes together to produce a finished bag.
Once it was complete, Franca took her newly created tote bag to work and her boss really liked it and asked me to make one for his sister. Several months and a submitted PhD later I got onto it. I ended up making something totally different and found that you can make something as complicated as you want as you long as you can think of how to put it together. Of course this bag wasn’t that complicated, but it did inspire me to make other bags, because people really loved them.
I made another bag for Franca (of the more complicated variety) and since then, it’s sort of snowballed a bit. I have made four more commission pieces for friends and family and a bag for myself, which I use on nearly a daily basis. All of these bags are one off designs. Recently I decided to make some prototype bags and some patterns from the designs to put into mass production. Well, I say mass production, it is just me and my ole Jones sewing machine. Every bag will still be unique in terms of fabric, finishing details etc, because I keep getting inspired to try new things out and get bored following a pattern.
Where do you get your materials from?
A lot of the materials I use come from recycled clothes. The majority of the clothes that I use are donated from friends and family who know that I like to make bags, so when they are throwing things out they often give them to me instead of the bin or the charity shop. I also often use old sheets, which I tend to get from charity shops. I try to use as much of the material as possible, although the buttons used on jeans are very hard to reuse and the manufacturers have an annoying habit of using little metal studs in various places (particularly on and around pockets). These are near impossible things to get off and a pair bike cable cutters is very useful for this job!
Of course not all of material comes from these recycled sources and I do like to use printed materials to liven up a design. I’ve found that Ikea is an excellent source for this sort of material and it is very reasonably priced. I use the thicker upholstery type material for bag outers because they are going to get battered about so they need to be durable. Another thing you might notice in my bag designs is that I like to use various items such as massive buttons, poppers and zips. Unfortunately these tend not to be found on the clothes that I cut up so I have to have a little hunt around the haberdashery stores in Edinburgh for them instead.
How do you come up with designs/where do you get inspiration for your designs?
It’s a trade secret!
Actually the real answer is I’m not that sure, with one exception. When we went to Barcelona lat year, we were renting an apartment just down the road from Gaudi’s Casa Mila and we pretty much walked past it every single day. I’d noticed the main gates on the first day. They’re pretty noticeable because of the massive long queue of people that line up in front of them to get in. The design of them really stuck in my mind and I spent a good few days trying to think of some way of incorporating something similar into a bag design and that’s how I came up with the Gaudi inspired bags (here, here and here). The other bags are bit different…
My main criterion for a design is to be able to make it. So, the ability to make something, or not to make something has lead to form in a lot of instances. A big factor when I’m considering a design is that I want to hide all of the seams and make the end product as neat looking as possible. This has meant that for practicality reasons, my designs have involved a lot of straight lines beyond the shape of a bag. If you want to categorise influences I guess you can look at De Stijl, particularly Mondrian’s work, and then there is a blocky sort of style in a lot of Art Deco designs. I think you can probably see some of those influences in a few of my designs and certainly some of the abstract paintings that I have painted in the past reflect a Mondrian influence.
To counter all the straight edges, in some of my designs I have used abstract shapes to make the main body of the bag. These shapes have often been influenced by Dali’s artworks, particularly ‘The Persistence of Memory’ painting and the ‘Metamorphosis of Narcissus’. Unfortunately, beyond the shapes of the bags/flaps, it is quite hard to include curves in a design, hide the seam at the same time and not make the bag really heavy by using a ridiculous amount of fabric to do it. However, I am still thinking on it and I would love to be able to use more curves in my designs and use more organic, Art Nouveau influences in the future. Keep watching this space (well, my Etsy shop space)!
And to celebrate the opening of Dave’s lovely shop, he’s giving away a cute little purse. It goes with this bag, see?
To enter, it’s the usual thing, you get an entry for:
* leave a comment telling me what your favourite item from the My Cloud Designs etsy shop is
* blogging or tweeting about this giveaway
* following this here blog, my twitter, or liking oranges and apples on facebook
One comment per thing so I can count it all up please! Giveaway is open until Monday 13 March and a winner will be picked by random number generator.
And if that wasn’t enough, you get 10 per cent off everything in his shop for 1 week only (until 7 March), using voucher code ANGELFISH. And if you’d like something designed for you incorporating your own ideas, Dave is always happy to take commissions.
p.s. Dave’s surname is Macleod, hence the name!