Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Renew, Recycle, Reuse - Bicycle Panniers, etc.

My design prototype of one of the bags for a bicycle pannier  made from recycled materials

Nowadays, at various groceries and stores you will find bags made of recycled materials for sale. They come in different sizes, styles and patterns. Some of them are so attractive that I've started collecting them to use as gift bags. They actually turn out a cheaper and more practical alternative to the paper gift bags.
Store bags made from recycled material in various sizes, styles and designs
My husband and I were invited to go on a European biking trip next autumn. Since I have never been on a bicycle in more than three decades, I am naturally apprehensive, We knew I will have to start re-learning to ride a bike. My husband decided he would  buy me a new bike to practice on. I wanted one that was simple and classic - no handbrakes and one speed and settled on a  cruiser bike, also known as beach cruisers which combine balloon tires, upright seating posture, single speed drive trains, and straightforward steel construction with expressive styling. These bikes, noted for their durability and heavy weight, were the most popular bicycle in the United States from the early 1930s through the 1950s and  are enjoying renewed popularity since the late 1990s. 
If you know me well enough, I am all about bags and accessories, so my bike and I  have to be fully accessorized. A few years ago, we came across a group of bikers who had colorful bags at the rear of their bike. I asked them about the bags and they said they were panniers that they purchased in Amsterdam.  I liked these panniers a lot, enough to file them in my memory bank. 

A touring bike with panniers

A  pannier /ˈpæniər/ is a basket, bag, box, or similar container, carried in pairs either slung over the back
of a beast of burden, or attached to the sides of a bicycle or motorcycle. The term derives from the old French word for bread basket. Now that I am getting a new bike, I decided I wanted those panniers I saw for my new bike. So off I went searching the internet and found that there was so much to choose from and the ones that I think were similar to the ones I saw years ago were quite expensive. Light bulb moment: I decided that maybe I can design and make one myself.

So off I went on my sketch pad, designing a pannier. The design process made me feel like an industrial engineer.  I had a few considerations:

1. Size - it needs to be a size that does not interfere with the bike's mechanics and pedaling
2. Durability - it has to stand up to the elements and waterproof/repellant
3.  Attractive - it has to be unique, colorful and easily spotted on the street 
4. Closure - secure and easy closure 
5. Means of attaching to the bike rack - it has to attach and remove easily from the rack
6. Capacity - it has to fit the lock, helmet, jacket, picnic stuff and sundries such as bug repellant and sun block.
7. Folds when not in use 
8. Simplicity - it has to be simple to make
9. Other considerations - a strap to convert to a messenger bag, reflector strips
For material, I decided that I would reuse and up-cycle one of the recycled material bags from my collection. The first thing I did was cut off the side seams to make a new flat fabric. Then I cut the fabric based on my design. I made a prototype of one of the bags  I wanted the pannier to be more tote like, so I did not add pockets. Designing on paper and executing it can be quite a different matter. I found that sewing this coated, plastic like material on the sewing machine is not the easiest so I had to make some adjustments such as stitch length and feed dog and foot pressure. I also placed some masking tape on the feed plate, which seemed to help. I am still struggling with the uneven stitches. And I am still stuck about how to attach the connector piece between the bags and how to attach the pannier securely to the bike. I have an idea, I but I have to rip the prototype bag to try it. Oh well, we'll have to see how this turns out. I do have to wait till the bike comes to experiment further. I will share my progress on a future post.

Anyway, what  I am most proud off, is finding a way to renew, recycle and reuse. I will end up with a very green and environmentally friendly product.

I found another use for the scraps from the recycled material fabric. I made a tissue cozy for my purse. I love it, so I think I might sell some on my Etsy shop.

I also made this front bar bike bag for my new bicycle. The design is very Japanese. I liked it so much that I also made another one to sell on Etsy.

Who knew recycling, renewing and reusing could be so much fun. All's well!

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