The top search string forwarding people to Archival Clothing is “Frost River out of Business.” Just the other day, folks on a message board in France were discussing Frost River canoe packs and pondering their current availability.
Though I don’t mind my blog serving as a morgue for bad news about Frost River, I’m more interested in locating a new, U.S. source for top quality, semi-affordable waxed cotton rucksacks, shoulder bags and bike luggage. Rivendell makes fine waxed cotton bike luggage (the best, I think), but I’m still waiting for them to offer general purpose luggage. Duluth Pack makes bags as well made as Frost River but they discontinued their waxed cotton line (lack of a quality waxed fabric source, I’m told). I’m not a fan of untreated natural canvas bags (mine mildew and absorb water after extended exposure to rain).
One future waxed cotton bag source might be David C., whose blog, Yurtville, features a recent entry on his own, handmade waxed cotton bike luggage and shoulder bags. I emailed David to find out a little more about his bag making projects and find out whether he might willing to do some custom order work. He wrote back:
I am quietly conjuring to start a little business making stuff I think is cool. My inspiration came from wanting a Rivendell Baggins bag that they weren’t selling any more. I made a rough but serviceable bag copied from an original and totally enjoyed the process.
Since then I’ve been making bags as inspiration or requests dictate while scouring for materials and hardware. A year or so ago I bought an industrial sewing machine and I’m making headway. Its fun, but I feel like I’ve still got a ways to go. I met a guy in Maine this summer who makes beautiful handmade shoes, baggage and leather gear all in his little shop. I introduced myself and we hit it off. I am hopeful that I could go spend some time working with him sometime in the near future.
I also thought you might find this article interesting. Its an article in the current issue of Vermont Life about a venerable woolen mill/manufacturer still chugging along in northern Vermont: http://www.vtlife.com/pdf/wi08-48-51-johnson.pdf
Here’s a link as well to the website of the guy I met in Maine: http://www.travellersleather.com/
I’m hoping that David becomes one of many new wax cotton bag makers setting up shop in the U.S. In addition, we need to identify new sources for waxed cotton fabric to supply more home manufacturing projects. I know about Seattle Fabrics and British Millerain in the UK. Other waxed cotton fabric sources?