Chris Freeman started crafting hand made fly fishing bags and accessories out of a personal need, and the thought and quality put into his products are getting him attention and sales.
How did you get started with this craft? I am fascinated by peoples stories and experiences, and I feel like I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had quite a few of my own. I have a lot of stories that I get to tell. One thing that I love about fly fishing is that it is as much about the journey of learning to fish, and the experiences and adventures we have along the way as it is about actually catching fish. A couple of years ago I became interested in having gear that was made with a classic aesthetic and with classic, natural materials. Gear that would wear in, rather than wear out. Its bumps, and scrapes and scars helping to tell the stories of our adventures.
However, I had never sewn a stitch in my life. Fortunately my mom has been an incredible seamstress since she was young and I asked her to teach me to sew. In one day we designed and sewed a very basic messenger bag made from 8oz duck canvas, and from that sewing lesson, I began designing and making my own gear. My bags expanded from just canvas to including working with leather as well, which has been a separate learning experience all in itself.
What motivates you to keep doing what you do? I’d say improving my craft would be one motivator. I’m very driven and have very high standards for my work and the products that I produce, and so I am constantly looking for ways to be better at what I do. And producing something that people get excited about. I recently gave a bag to a friend of mine to go test on the water and his reaction to the bag was awesome. And as we’ve consistently met to discuss how the bag is performing in the wild, one of his biggest comments is that it has become his companion. It isn’t just a piece of gear. Comments like that always drive me.
Do you have any habits or routines that keep you on track or get you pumped up to do your work?I’m a musician as well so listening to music is pretty standard. I usually start with a cup of coffee. I have a friend who is a craft coffee roaster so its nice to begin the day with something else that is well crafted. It’s good to be reminded that what counts is doing something well.
What aspect of your work excites you the most? I wish I could say that sewing is really exciting, but its really not. Sewing is a means to an end. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, but its the tool. The utility to accomplishing the goal. A finished product is exciting. Order made out of chaos. The challenge in creating and crafting is in making something out of nothing. Imagining potential and giving something purpose. It’s exciting to finish something and see it come to life.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? My inspiration comes in a lot of forms and I don’t know that I can point to any one thing. My inspiration is usually more awkward and accidental. Probably more often than it should, I find inspiration in something that I messed up or in something that came out differently that what I intended.
Is there any particular time when or place where you feel most inspired to create?Usually at night when I’m about to go to bed, or when I’m fishing. My desire is to make a product that is a balance of form and function, and fishing always brings ideas about functionality. In the moment, realizing my need for something, or using one of my products and discovering how to make it better through practical use.