It's been a mad mad couple of months, designing, prototyping, redesigning, re-prototyping a frame pack we're calling Bag 1, with modular system extensions we're calling bags 2, 3 and 4 :)
Here's another custom jacket just finished. It takes the design developed in the kangaroo leather jacket project, applied in a light brown waxed canvas, and adding the usual hood and wool lining.
Once again, the customer's preference for this colour and for toggles took us into areas we haven't had a chance to explore, and the result is a keeper. We'll be using this colour and toggles lots more.
Did you catch a glimpse of the kangaroo leather jacket? It was commissioned by a local mountains fella.
Working with kangaroo leather is super luxurious, and an intimidating prospect. One false stitch and it's start over, buy new skin. Expensive.
And for this coat we went for something more fitted than the original kimono design. But that meant a new design, carefully to measure, making samples out of canvas to check fitting.
It took a long time, fitting this project in with the orders for known products, not wanting to rush any mistakes.
The leather is veg tanned to a burgundy red. After it was made, we sunk our bees wax into it to give it some proofing and the rustic tones you can see in the picture. Another coat would darken it all up to a consistent tone, but we decided to leave that option open, liking the tones as they are.
From this design we'll develop a pattern for future fitted jackets like these, most likely in the usual waxed canvas, as kanga is very pricey.
Thanks to customers like these, we get to embark on projects we couldn't otherwise do.
The patrol cap is a classic piece of military kit, evolving from the French kepi and American Civil War, through to US soldiers today. It's a design that I can't argue with, after wearing one every day for nearly two years.
The brim is just the right size to shield the face from snow and rain, but not so big so as to catch the wind or protrude too far into your vision or object of focus. The cap is certainly a better hat to wear when driving, or carrying a load on the back, or just when you want a hat that reliably stays on your head, no matter what you're doing. The simple construction of the patrol cap, made to size rather than adjustable, keeps it light weight and compact. Treating its ripstop cotton fabric with a generous soaking of hot bee's wax and linseed oil not only keeps the rain off, but it also keeps the dirt, grit and grime out of the woven fabric, helping it to last much longer. Over time, the wax and oil forms that unmistakable leathery look of "oilskin" as it wears in and builds up with each treatment.
We'll keep a small supply is in our Gear store now, in sizes 58cm and 60cm at the moment, more sizes to come.
Also in it, Leigh laments the loss of a culture of making and manufacturing, but briefly outlines the open source business model for Peak Oil Company.
We're still heading toward that model, aiming to get the patterns for the vest, jacket and gloves up by December. The idea being you can download the patterns for free, buy materials from us (or source your own), come in and use our machines (or use your own), and if you're ready and willing, sell through Peak Oil Company (or out on your own). The only proviso, strictly speaking, is that you share back any changes or improvements you make to the patterns.
This way, we hope to connect up a small community of makers and designers with a similar mission to Peak Oil Company. Here's to that!
It's been a busy winter so far, which is good for peakoilcompany but not so good for folks waiting for their orders. We're about 2 weeks behind, trying to catch up to the commitments.
But we have made a start on the August orders. First off the ranks is a hand waxed red canvas jacket.
This one has been a first off for us, and we've learned a lot in doing it. We definitely love the finish, are really happy with the wooden slot buttons, but getting to this finish has been quite time consuming. We need to build an oven for baking in the wax, freeing our hands away from the slow process of a hair drier. The oven needs only be a large wooden box with blow heaters directed into it. We'd melt the 1:1 bees wax and linseed oil as usual, applying it with a paint brush, but instead of baking the wax in with the hair drier (the way you might like to do it at home if you need to reproof any of your canvas), we'll hang it over night in the oven. If you need any wax btw, we're selling them for $15 a tin. A full and deep reproofing of a jacket needs up to two tins.
Next up on the jackets will be a classic dark brown lined with a lovely light brown wool pattern weave lining sourced from the unique range of small metres along Sydney road.
We're aiming to get this one finished this Saturday, at least as far as a final fitting, before we start on another first, the full kangaroo leather jacket! More updates on that later..
Finally, make sure you get out and enjoy the last of the winter fronts, bringing snow showers that settle into crisp, longer sunny days. Australian snow country is truly unique, and might be a rare sight in the future. Go back country though, snow shoes or touring skis. Its the best way to experience the haunting beauty of Ghost and Snow gums, or the burnt out Mount Ash giants, towering above snow dusted regrowth.
August is going to be another busy month on the machine, with orders on several oilskin jackets, wool liners and a start on the first leather coat made from at least 6 burgundy veg tanned kangaroo skins!
And what about the gauntlet mittens? Once again designed for the backcountry skiing, these mittens are a waxed canvas and kangaroo skin outer with removable wool mitten liners.
The metal zippers by YKK and the waxed canvas bias binding has arrived. It's already halfway through July! We better get cutting if we're going to get all the June vest orders made by August!! A few jacket orders have thrown out the schedule a bit. Really looking forward to finishing this batch of vests, with the newly sourced skins, and a few blacks, the vests are entering a new level of quality.
This month we brought down merino skins from Queensland and they are exceptional. The leather is strong and clean, and the fleece is silky ivory with a golden brown tone that can only be the iron ore of the desert country...
With a new sized waxed canvas binding, and trying out some brown oilskin against some black sheepskins, we're really looking forward to sewing up the July batch.
Thanks to the June orders for patiently waiting for this month's making to start. the wait will be well worth it!
The end of June is approaching, and the first of the Antarctic fronts are roaring across the high country. The wind is driving sleet and snow into every crevice, and scouring the open plains above the snow gums.
We've ordered our largest batch of sheepskins, kangaroo skins, and waxed canvas yet. In July you'll find us in Kallista, by the warmth of a wood burner, cutting and sewing the Sheepskin Vests and Oilskin Jackets that were ordered in June.
(We're hoping to get a few days out in the back country too - test out a wall tent with firebox and hot tub we've been working on!)
It's not too late to get a June order in, for a July make. Otherwise the orders start again in July for an August make.
Well, maybe we should keep the old blog going. Not only does it help to look back over old notes, it works in with the newsletter service to keep subscribers in the loop. We'll post a bunch of backdated updates to fill in the gaps from all the years let go, but don't worry, they won't flood your inbox...
The sheepskin was awesome! It sure got wet, but only the outside. The wool fleece remained dry and warm - it really is amazing to wear.
The jacket, pants and gloves cut the wind, sleet, snow and rain well. A simple rubbing of bee's wax on key areas like shoulders, arms and seams, made certain of it. The zips in the pants vented the leg well. Will be adding braces.
Really pleased with the performance all round.
The Peak Oil Jacket is custom fitted to your measurements and designed for activity in conditions where function, comfort, modest style, protection and durability are of equal importance.
Made from oilskin, wool and kangaroo leather, this jacket ensures a dry and breathable wear, with a tough yet subtle feel.
The hood gives a generous cover in oilskin lined with wool. A wool and oilskin cuff draws close around the face, ensuring warmth, wind resistance and unobscured peripheral vision.
Check out Mr Treslonian's youtube channel!
The guy is running a 4000 watt generator on syngas produced from a bucket load of sticks cooked in a homemade wood gasifier. Oh, he's distilling bio fuel from it as well.
The hour long featured video says it all. Probably the best hour long video you've ever seen! It just keeps mounting awesomeness upon awesomeness
Thor just returned from 4 weeks in Japan, throughly testing the Peak Oil Jacket. 4 weeks of continuous use in snow, rain, altitude, night clubs and tokyo streets. It comes back to us with some incredibly valuable feedback, some spoken, the rest written into the jacket itself.
The very first thing we notice is how great the thing breaks in! The oilskin has rubbed back and softened to a dry, slightly shined, not waxy, worn in looking jacket.
The second thing we notice is that the stitching still shines like new, and this is something we don't like so much. On this jacket we used a thread with more polyester in it. While it certainly retains its own colour, we want it to absorb some of the oil and darken with the jacket. Our normal thread with more cotton does this nicely, so we'll stay with that.
The zips glide beautifully, so Riri earns their reputation.
The pattern worked, breaking in nicely, and coming back without any complaints. Our main question was if the simplicity caused any discomfort or tight spots. None! We've since adjusted the hood design however, giving a draw chord that pulls better around the face, and more room if a helmet needs to be worn under it.
Early in Thor's trip, reports came in about snow sticking to the jacket. We don't yet know if this is a thing with new oilskin, or if a worn in oilskin sheds the snow ok. Watching that space. The main thing we needed to know is that it was water proof.
It's true that plastics are used for mountain and snow sports these days, and that cotton based gear is heavier, and potentially colder. But we'll truck on in the face of that, looking to our principles of natural and recycled materials that anyone can pull together and not need a petro chemical plant to produce. 4 weeks successful use in Japan, including proud wearing in nightclubs is enough encouragement for us. And we notice that either Thor has no body odour, or the natural materials are not inducing it...
And while this one isn't Thor's jacket, here's Leigh wearing his on a recent camping trip with his family up around Mount Macedon in Victoria. Yes, it got cold enough. This jacket is identical to Thor's, but has hand pockets and red stitching.
Thanks to Eleanor at Kick and Screen, we've got some really nice care labels printed up, and a screen with a squeegee and ink to keep on trucking with, and try out all sorts of different fabrics. These care labels will be sewn into the lining, as a third pocket, and signed by the maker with a date and place written in as well.
We have patches, stamped leather, and ribbon ready to go too. Can't wait to see how they jazz up a finished jacket.