|Rickshaw Zero on one shoulder; new musette on the other.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I’m a big fan of Rickshaw Bagworks of San Francisco. (I swear I have no affiliation with them, and I certainly receive no perks – I just love all their products.) Within my first year of sketching, I discovered Rickshaw’s Folio, which, at the time, met my needs perfectly. Back then I was still a little self-conscious about pulling out all my sketch gear at a coffee shop, but the Folio was an ideal discreet way to carry a sketchbook and a few pens. I looked like I was just writing in my journal, I figured, so no one would notice. (Of course, it didn’t take long to realize that I could pull out a full easel and oil paints, and all those people staring at their phones and laptops probably wouldn’t notice.)
Shortly thereafter I got my first Zero Messenger Bag – the very same purple one that has traveled with me to three continents. Last year I got a second one in an identical design but made with waterproof fabric for the wet season (here, that’s October through May). Rain, gray or shine, a Zero messenger has been my daily-carry bag for more than five years.
|One of my Rickshaw vanity totes.
While those are all products I’ve gotten specifically to meet sketching needs, I’ve also gotten several non-sketch-related items: a larger Zero for road trips, a smaller one for air travel, a backpack, and tote bags purely for vanity (large and small).
And that brings me to the subject of totes. I sometimes carry one as a supplement to my Zero messenger bag, especially when I travel or go on sketch outings in town. Water, snacks, jacket, maps, stool, sunscreen – all the stuff I don’t carry day-to-day but that I might need when I’m out for a while go in a tote. I have been using a variety of inexpensive muslin giveaway totes, including ones I’ve received at each USk symposium. One problem with such totes is that as soon as I wash them (they tend to get dirty quickly on the street), they shrink to about half their original size. A second issue is that the handles on most totes (including the two Rickshaw vanity totes) are only long enough to slip over one shoulder, and I prefer to carry bags cross-body. Although I must have a couple dozen tote bags hanging in my closet, none is ideal.
|One of several totes that shrank.
|Even my beloved Paraty
symposium tote shrank.
On a whim, I got a new tote that happened to be on sale a couple weeks ago as part of Rickshaw’s Fountain Pen Day promotion: a musette with “the pen is mightier than the sword” emblem. I saw that it had a strap long enough to be worn cross-body like my messenger bag, so I was optimistic. I tried it out Saturday at our extra-long outing for USk’s 10th anniversary, and I was pleased by how easy it was to haul around. A bag on each shoulder, both carried cross-body, distributed the weight more evenly. With a somewhat squarish shape rather than the traditional lengthy rectangle, the musette is proportioned perfectly for me. Bonus: It’s made of the same fabric as my purple Zero messenger, which machine-launders beautifully without any shrinkage or fading, so I know I can toss the musette into the washer when it gets dirty, too.
I wasn’t even looking for my grail tote bag, but I think I found it!
It gets better: The musette can be custom printed with any design – like a sketch!