Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tool Belt

Noticed a handyman standing outside an apartment building holding a large wooden door. He wore a canvas tool belt. On a quest to make a belt to hold daily supplies (keys, phone, pens, etc.) my attention has been drawn to examples of belts with pockets, fanny packs or bags worn around the waist of a passersby. His tool belt looked pretty great--useful and with a soft patina of wear to prove it.

Tool Belt from Home Depot
The tool belt came from Home Depot he said. In the photo is an identical one found there. It is well constructed (in India), made primarily of heavy canvas. The bottoms of the pockets and the edges are bound in suede, the corners reinforced with rivets. An adjustable nylon webbing belt is stitched and riveted in place along the back length of the canvas.

It was a good taking off point.

Tried it on. It was heavy. The nylon webbing used for the actual belt was stiff and scratchy making it difficult to adjust. The belt had to be removed to work the webbing through the plastic fastener. The cotton canvas--a natural, sturdy fabric was ideal. The pockets were spacious and varied in size. That they were open facilitated accessing tools. Having previously made a belt with open pockets, however, decided for the urban landscape it is more practical to have ones that close.

Belt Sketch, 2014

Above is a sketch of the bag I was thinking about. Lidded pockets in a variety of sizes. A hidden back pocket. Water resistant canvas fabric. Two loops for the bag to hang from any belt.

VSL Belt. Water resistant cotton canvas, leather, 2014.

When it was partially sewn I realized the center of the bag would pull away from the body if it only hung from a belt at either end. Decided instead to follow the Home Depot model: sewed a belt to the bag. Made of leather it adjusts easily; the bag may be worn at the waist or slung low around the hips. The pocket edges are pleated so they can expand [think cargo pants pockets]. The entire length is backed with heavy canvas--another echo of the HD belt. 

Athletes use the mind to envision the performance they wish to achieve. (Hurrah for H.A. Dorman's The Mental Game of Baseball.) Is it very different for the artist? There are identical components: acquired skills and practice, planning and spontaneity. Removing the finished belt from the sewing machine and clipping the threads was sort of astonished. Had long been thinking about the design, planning it, paying attention to examples, drawing different versions. Now here it was!

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