From Maker to Maker

From Maker to Maker

-Story and images from the makers themselves-

 

The intention is in the details, to always serve a PURPOSE with pragmatism and refined tailoring.  I’m striving for us to have this in all elements of the brand. We put in the work to curate excellence in the process, product, art/photography, and in our stories.
One of the fun parts of our process that I love is that we test the product. We use it, showing and proving the purpose in the process. After completing the samples, we did a quick “final” wear fit test and shoot in Seattle.  That same day I sent the pieces on their “Union Of Makers” road-trip test.
First it went to Nate Wessel in PA to test the wear, the build and prove the use. Nate then shipped the vest to Rob Gallaher in Kamloops BC. He then sent it to Kris Sherry to test the wear and prove the design. Here’s a taste of our “Union Of Makers” road-trip test.
-Josh Sirlin

Rob Gallaher
Builder – Mechanic – Photographer

Inspiration drives everything I do. My bikes, my music, my photography, my relationships & my life are all created out of an inspiration.  It’s the thing that gets me up in the morning ready to receive the world. That’s what Black Bear Brand is to me.  It’s an inspiration to ambitiously seek balance between functionality, durability, tough authentic style and refined tailoring. Be a dreamer...Make stories...

-Rob Gallaher
Kamloops BC Canada

Bike: 1978 Shovelhead custom rigid chopper. Built for fellow maker Bradley Makepeace, Hugging Tree Winery, and Makepeace Organics. Engine: 96” S&S Shovelhead.
3” BDL open primary. Transmission: RevTech 6into4. Front End: Wide glide. Wheels: Front-HD 21” Rear-HD 16”. Seat: Biltwell solo Tuck n’ Roll with Matcho Negro seat hinge.

Kris Sherry
FABRICATOR – DESIGNER – CRAFTSMAN

To me, Black Bear Brand is an ode to the past, to a time when men worked hard and honed their craft.  When clothing served a purpose and was made to endure.  The shirt-jacket was a great example of this. I worked, welded and wore this jacket socially and was extremely pleased with the quality and styling. I pride myself on being well-rounded in many handcrafted skills and not being afraid to put in the very humbling time it takes to learn and to grow these skills. You’re only as good as your tools and having the proper attire falls into that category for me. From welding and grinding a new gas tank for my motorcycle, to fabricating anything that comes my way, the shirt-jacket is my go to.  Styling and functionality in everything I do is key and I strive to achieve that in my own work as well. Black Bear Brand is on the same path I am, and being able to take part in bringing this brand to the level it deserves, just seems to be a great fit.

-Kris Sherry
Tehachapi, California

Pinching a 1976 Harley Davidson SX-250 Gas Tank.

Nate Wessel
DESIGNER – FABRICATOR – BUILDER

I have been involved with action sports for 20 years.  As a pro athlete, there are many brands that wrap around you, they can make you who you are as well as define you. For many years I have supported and been supported by brands that I felt were a huge part of my everyday being. I am in a new chapter of my life, but I am still surrounded by action sports and athletes. However, I was missing that brand that truly connected with my life, my work and my passions. That void has been filled by a brand that I feel encompasses me better that anything I’ve ever been a part of. It revolves around all of my passions for every walk of life that I am a part of.  Whether it is playing, riding, ripping, shredding, chillin’, fabricating, building or hanging with my family, it all works as one. Black Bear Brand encompasses me and everything that I am about.

-Nate Wessel
Maryland / Pennsylvania

Designing and fabricating a ramp in Maryland / Pennsylvania for Nitro Circus.

A Black Bear Story

UNEARTHED

An Indestructible Legacy Left in the Footsteps of our Fathers

A Black Bear Story

By Flint Benson


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Click to view individual pages.


Read UNEARTHED: A Black Bear Story below.

My Grandfather, Robert Benson, was born in 1910 in the Swedish Dairy farming community of Cedardale. The farm ground, east of present-day Interstate-5, ran parallel with a mountain range in the area between Mount Vernon and Conway in Washington State. Having been raised at the base of these mountains, he witnessed the operations of the English Lumber Co., which was the area’s largest player in the logging industry. In 1914 the English Co. began construction of a bridge along what was known as the “English Logging Railroad.” The bridge, which the company claimed to be the tallest of its type in the United States, spanned Sandy Creek at a height of 119 feet. As a boy, my Grandfather watched the locomotives transporting Fir and Cedar across the trestle from the Mount Vernon area. The sights and the sounds of this magnificent era must have made quite an impression on my Grandfather who, at the age of nineteen, decided to become a railroad logger for English. 
    The Great Depression made getting a job with English a stiff competition. Loggers were expected to work hard, because if they didn’t, there were about two hundred other men ready to take their place. My Grandfather often spoke of his first day at work.
...The foreman took me out to a railroad grade, as we rounded the corner I saw five men pitching gravel at a frightening pace. The Foreman handed me a shovel and said, ‘get to it, boy!’
He joined the men and matched their effort. Ten minutes later, sweaty and near collapsing with exhaustion, the men threw down their shovels and shared a hearty laugh. Grandpa explained to me that they were testing his work ethic along with his sense of humor, because to work that hard, you needed both.
    My Father was born in 1948 and spent his youth exploring the same mountains where his father was raised. He sometimes recalls having lunch with my Grandfather on what remained of the old trestle bridge. He never forgot the stories my Grandfather told of an old English Logging camp where 14 bunkhouses had been destroyed in a fire sometime during 1913. Grandpa also mentioned a cousin, Uncle Edgar, who used to hike up to these camps in search of colored bottles. As a young man, my Father used the old Railroad grades in the area of the old camps to access higher elevation while deer hunting. One day on a deer hunt my father spotted the signs of a bottles dig high on the mountain side and quickly realized that he had found the old burned down camp.
    I was born in 1979 and grew up in a mountain house built roughly 200 yards from the old trestle bridge that the English Co. had constructed over Sandy Creek. Only one piling remains of the bridge which, like the mountains, hadn’t experienced much industry following the glory days of the English Logging Company. That all changed when the Scott Paper Co. came to town and reignited the logging industry. After nearly 70 years the mountain roared back to life with the whistle blows of the log yarders and the constant flow of Fir and Cedar down its side. Eventually, the clear-cut land came for sale in 40 acre parcels. My Father thought that we could buy some acreage if we supplemented the cost by cutting and selling firewood from the slash piles. We cut hundreds of cords over the next two years to make ends meet. I remember cutting on a new logging road when my father pointed out the location of the old English Logging camp. He explained to me how the trains brought the buildings in and took the buildings out, all except for those 14 bunkhouses had burned down long ago.
    My grandfather passed away in 2007, he was 97 years old. The last years of his life the family took turns caring for him in his home on the mountain across Sandy Creek Canyon. I found that the book, "Logging Railroads in Skagit County" took him to a place where he could recall with confidence the stories he treasured the most.     In the following year, I found myself as a self-employed Tile setter in a struggling economy. In my spare time I was drawn to the woods much as I had been as a child. My yellow lab and I wandered the mountain and creeks looking for antler sheds or an arrowhead, while unsuccessful on the latter, the times coming home empty handed taught me patience. I learned the native flora and fauna and hunted the black-tailed deer and migratory waterfowl. I walked the old railroad grades like my fore-fathers and, with a new appreciation for the mountain, I slowly became drawn to the logging camp.
    In 2011, armed with a metal detector and my yellow lab, I entered the alder flat that would consume me for the next 3 years. I started finding parts to wood stoves and bed frames, within the first week I felt I had the footprint of the fourteen burned bunkhouses...a 30'x200' sea of nails. I was still learning the metal detector when I got the surprise of a lifetime, out of the ground came a Winchester model 1896 saddle ring carbine! I decided that with the large amount of nails in the ground I would need to set up 5'x5' areas and pull each and every nail, one handful of dirt at a time. The first finds to come were mostly all clothing related. The most common find among the nails were metal buttons from work pants and coats. I was delighted to find the buttons were stamped with the name of the manufacturer. A set of ten buttons were usually accompanied by a set of suspender buckles. I remember the buckles and buttons to be far more ornate than I had ever imagined. The designs were classy and well made. Traces of gold gilding or nickel plating still remained in places inside the buckle and within the recessed stamped designs and lettering. With each new brand discovery a new opportunity arose to research the brand’s history. The closest company to my hometown was the "Black Manufacturing Company" in Seattle. They produced garments using the "Black Bear Brand" as their line of work wear. A search of their history provided a picture of a massive painted mural advertisement preserved on the side of a brick building in Seattle. I had seen that sign before!
    The most thrilling day for me was April 12th, 2012. While digging under a rotten stump I hit a pocket of buttons. It seemed every handful of dirt produced at least one button. "Buffalo Brand,” "Rose City,” "Chester Make,” "Capitol Make,” 45 buttons and four suspender buckle sets came out of the ground. I recorded my first coin, a 1906 Liberty Head Nickel and a "Good for five cents" trade token from the "Viaduct Saloon" in Everett, Wash. The following year I learned that early plastic was prized among loggers; combs, smoking pipe mouth pieces, and even a men's ring was found from materials ranging from Baleen, Celluloid, Bakelite, and hard rubber. The next two years produced a total of sixteen manufacturers of work clothes and suspenders of thirty different designs from at least a dozen suspender makers.
    In March of this year, my fiancé and I were walking up our creek, about a half mile from Sandy Creek. We had been finding antique fire brick on our journeys up the creek and this particular day lead us to the source, a large fire brick lined kiln. On the next trip up we found a patch of daffodils and a wrought iron bed frame. A week ago I took the dogs back up the site and below the bed frame I started digging. To my surprise a couple of buttons came out of the ground, but they were rusted beyond recognition. The best find of the day was a "Black Bear Brand" button, I instantly knew what it was. With excitement about the find in a new location I continued to dig. Some 15 minutes later I heard a grunt, I looked up to see a full grown black bear 20 yards away walking towards me on the railroad grade. I stood up, and the dogs ran the bear off, but I remember thinking the coincidence was more than astounding. The events of the day lead me to research Black Bear Brand again, and that is when I saw the brand had been revived. I was impressed with how much research had been done, and that the company honored the late clothing manufacturer in preserving its story, history, and the designs of the old workwear and buttons. I sent an email to the company to inform them that I had 4 different designs of "Black Bear Brand" buttons found in a 1912 logging camp. My email was answered immediately and within a week I was meeting with brand curator, Josh Sirlin, and photographer Chad Lyons at my home in Mount Vernon. We visited and drove up to the logging camp. I was very pleased to see a company take so much interest, Josh and I share a passion for early 20th century workwear and while I was never able to share these finds with my Grandfather I am so pleased for this opportunity to tell his story.
-Flint Benson

Black Bear Brand 2016

Union Of Makers - bringing the worlds of pragmatism and refined tailoring together...
Thats just who we are and what we do
Black Bear Brand 2016 items are coming...

Union Of Makers - Curating Excellence

Pragmatism, utility & style...
The tools... the curation of style through craftsmanship.
Where materials, people and their stories drive the end product.

The Black Bear Brand - Horween Leather - Dayton Boots... coming in 2016

Union of Makers - "grom" - Jack Boatman

In dedicated support of photographers, artists, builders, musicians, riders… and more -  cultural diversity and creativity.

Making it in America...

Time-honored style bred from quality and heritage... Black Bear Brand collaborating with Crescent Down Works and producing it all in a small Seattle factory. A Union Of Makers.

The Landscape of the Pacific Northwest

Outsiders are a symbol of doing things differently. You cannot disrupt the status quo without them. But those outsiders and their wild ideas need support. They need a place to feel like an insider.  
Union Of Makers - a union of persons sharing a vision…
Photos by Chad Lyons

Union Of Makers - Rob Gallaher - Pictorial Tour of Cartagena Colombia

Pictorial tour of Cartagena Colombia

The people; the expressions of the trials and tribulations along with political satire, injustices… and more.

Art - Murals - A Historical Icon
Black Bear Brand's Union Of Makers - Rob Gallaher

Union of Makers - Nate Wessel - Bikes Over Baghdad

Serving those who serve us… Build & Ride.
Bikes Over Baghdad is a team of professional action sports athletes who have traveled to the Middle East in support of the troops since 2009. Here’s a look at the recent November trip to a lot of undisclosed locations in the Middle East.
Nate Wessel - Union Of Makers 

Union of Makers - Black Bear Brand x Greenwich Vintage Co.

The Making of the Black Bear Brand x Greenwich Vintage Co. Collaboration Boots

Union Of Makers - What was once a brand new Oro colorway Red Wing #875 boot has now been transformed by Greenwich Vintage’s Master Cobbler, Tamas “Zen” Pomazi. "We dyed the boots black by hand, to have an overdyed patina and we re-midsoled and corked the inside with a black 6 iron midsole sewn on a landis k curve stitcher.  These one-of-kind moc-toe boots have been outfitted with brand new black chrome eyelets hand hammered in shop. Last but not least we made our own Black Bricklayer wedge out soles.” - Zen

The delivery date is set for November 20th at www.blackbearunion.com 

Union of Makers - Crescent Down Works x Black Bear Brand

Crescent Down Works x Black Bear Brand
Union Of Makers - Collaboration
Making custom down garments since 1974. 
Patterns based on long-established northwest outerwear designs. 
"We use high quality and time-tested fabrics and construction methods, stuffed with 700 fill white goose down selected for the best combination of durability, feel and performance.” - CDW
Time-honored style provide a sought-after product proudly made in America with care. 
Located in Seattle, 100% of our manufacturing is done in-house in our factory in Pioneer Square. 
"We love doing custom work for our partners, especially locally…” - CDW
Limited collection coming soon.

Photos by Chad Lyons

Union of Makers - Justin Ormiston

the hunt…

British Columbia, Canada
Union of Makers - Justin Ormiston

"After three days in the field following fresh tracks, finding warm beds and hearing the sound of hooves moving through the soil, along bounces the biggest four point buck I've ever seen. Locked and loaded I waited patiently for a clean shot; sure enough the buck stopped just before entering the dense forest. One long exhale I squeezed a standing shot from about 140 yards out. The click of my 7mm mag firing pin was all I heard... no bang."

"The round misfired due to a faulty primer. I quickly cycled another round into the chamber, ready to pull, but there was no deer left to shoot."

"I never did find that four point again, but the three days of grizzly bear prints, coyotes howling, cold nights and warm scotch, it's the journey that counts."