For readers of this blog, the idea that The Crow would travel in a tweed suitcase inspired case will come as no surprise. Although tweed-covered cases are a vintage stalwart, the connection here is double deep. I first made the association while reading Kerouac’s On The Road. Carla and I were on a road trip of our own when she photographed me holding my 1940s vintage suitcase. I’d found this beautiful relic in a shop in New Hampshire and just had to have it. It wasn’t until I saw the photo below that I fully connected the dots.
Crows are scavengers, messengers and harbingers. Like Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, crows traverse the landscape living on their instincts. The hoboes take to the rails as the crows take to the sky—searching for tomorrow’s answer and a meal. When I saw the photo of the suitcase, I knew that my guitar had to have a case that incorporated this spirit.
My search for the correct vintage tweed covering came up short. After being assured by phone that the material was an exact duplicate of the lacquered tweed that was used on both vintage luggage and guitar cases (not to mention amplifiers) my material arrived looking pale, sallow and somewhat less than authentic. The only thing to do was to lacquer and age it myself. I cut a few pieces into sample swatches and started mixing up some amber and brown tinted nitro lacquer.
I started the process slowly, wanting to use as little tint as I could. It took about a half day to get it exactly the way I wanted it—the balance between the number of coats and the yellow to brown ratio. I was almost there, using the actual suitcase as my guide. Finally, a little bit of indigo tint got it just right. That’s the final swatch on the bottom left. Now it’s a matter of spraying out all the material after it is cut to fit the case. The lacquer color and sheen will make it look like it’s already lived a lifetime of adventure on the road. When it’s done maybe I’ll drag it up to the old farm for a portrait.