Brandy Bowmaster uses reclaimed bike inner tubes to create all kinds of bags and accessories.
You know we love ideas for reusing old bike tubes around here, so when Brandy Bowmaster contacted us about her upcycled bags and accessories made from reclaimed bike tubes, we were super jazzed! If you're looking to buy handmade instead of make by hand, Bowmaster's beautiful bike tube bags and accessories are upcycled, well-made, and straight up gorgeous.
Her company - Moab Bag Company - is based in Moab, Utah, a very bike-friendly town. Brandy was kind enough to take some time to talk to us about her what she does and why she does it.
greenUPGRADER: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background.
Brandy Bowmaster: Growing up I never considered myself very creative. I only did crafty stuff when visiting my master quilter grandmother who always put me to work sewing doll quilts by hand, but I didn't pick up her passion for sewing. For a long time I had longed to have more creative outlets that excited and challenged me. I tried lots of things, from calligraphy to crocheting to playing the banjo. The only thing that stuck was cooking, which I came to love and depend on as my only creative outlet. For the last several years I alternated between running a kitchen for a grassroots campaign in Montana, growing food on communal land, and traveling. There was not much space and quiet time for creative endeavors. Eventually I got a little bored, and I realized that what I needed was to develop some new skillsets and challenge myself. So when I moved to Moab last year I was ready for some new creative projects. I made an impulse decision and bought an old sewing machine at a yard sale. Maybe it was time to try sewing again? After a few simple projects, I was ready to take on something more challenging. I decided to try making some bike panniers, but was unwilling to spend the money on new material (being unemployed at the time). Then a friend suggested a material that hadn't even crossed my mind: old bike tubes.
gUP: When did you launch your company, and what inspires you to craft with bike inner tubes?
BB: I officially launched my company in March of this year when I formed an LLC and opened my Etsy shop.
At first I was inspired by the sheer practicality of using bike tubes: they were free! I am also quite pleased to be working with a material that most other people consider trash. I see it as a great way to contribute to the recycling efforts in Moab.
The more I worked with bike tubes, the more I came to appreciate their qualities as a raw material: durability, strength, flexibility, ease of care. Being a more practically minded person, these qualities mean a lot to me. One of my goals is to demonstrate to folks how valuable a material this "trash" really is by crafting bags that are useful, durable, and yet also attractive. Lately I have become inspired by the Maker culture's emphasis on thinking outside the box and making things yourself as a way of developing skills and because it is fun! I have decided to take the needs and desires of makers more into consideration as I develop new designs this fall and winter.
gUP: Can you talk a little bit about how you source your materials?
BB: Moab is a very popular mountain biking destination, so luckily for me there are lots of bike shops here that cater to all those bikers and their flat tires. The shops end up with big piles of discarded tubes, that eventually find their way to the landfill, or now into my workshop. All the shops I visit are more than happy to have me take all those tubes off their hands. I particularly love biking around to the shops and stuffing my bike tube panniers with more tubes. One day I'd like to run Moab out of discarded tubes!
gUP: Where can folks find your work?
BB: The best place to find my work is in my Etsy shop. A few shops in Moab are carrying my products: Spa Moab, Rim Cyclery, and Moab Classic Bike. I will also be vending at the Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair here in Moab on December 6th and 7
All images via Moab Bag Company