“I’m driving around the country trying to inspire people to use their imagination, think creatively, and at the same time demonstrate alternative energy sources in action,” Paul Nosa told me from behind his solar-powered sewing machine on the Ocean Beach Pier March 14.
“I use a solar panel and a bicycle electrical generator to power my sewing machine and I draw with it,” he said. “I use the needle — I don’t use a computer or template — and I just basically free-form designs and images. So I ask people to imagine a scenario, to describe it in five words or less — not a list or a logo — and I make a custom patch for them here on the spot. And if you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it. But if you do, you can pay what you think it’s worth.”
His book of “Best Of” patches was impressive.
“It can be just about anything,” he explained. “There was a request to do a mythical ethical icicle bicycle — that one came out pretty well…. I draw in a sketch book all the time, but this is all free form — in fact, I feel like that’s one of the reasons I’m able to sew the way I can because I spend so much time drawing in the sketch book.
"I self-taught myself to sew. I paint and also play music. I feel like drumming has a lot to do with sewing as well: there’s a whole tempo, there’s a timing involved with drawing with a sewing machine, the speed at which your foot step controls how fast the needle goes and then also how fast you move the fabric. To get the image to look fluid, you have to keep an even tempo and speed.”
Nosa, who created a patch in the time we were speaking, told me about what’s next for him.
“I do the whole country [traveling by van]. This is the first month of the 2017 sewing tour, so I’ve still got a lot ahead of me. I’ll be in O.B. for a few days, then off to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Chicago, Pittsburg, Baltimore, North Carolina, New Orleans… It's just a big loop around the country.”