Kathy’s Clock, and a further update. (And thanks!!)

And now, for something a bit different.

Here is a “purse” I created that was meant to hang on a wall. One of the things I love is displaying both my purses and my collection of Enid Collins purses on the wall (with a shout out to my very tolerant husband). This inspired me to make a purse (or is it a clock?) for my sister-in-law Kathy as a sort of house-warming gift since she recently moved. I just LOVE how it turned out. I’m figuring out how to make a desktop version!

Well, that’s all for now. I have other purses to blog, but need to schedule  photography day for them.

Thank you, friends, for your encouragement and positive comments. It means a lot to me. I’ve been struggling with several health issues, most aggravating being a bad case of tendonitis in my dominant hand. I find it very hard to limit my activities in the studio, but I did break down and buy a power screwdriver. Hand therapy continues apace (relief coming at a GLACIAL pace) and I’m trying to stay positive. Soon I will have to start working on the financial books for my family’s business, to hand off to my accountant for the end of the year, so purse blogging may slow down once again. One thing I will try to do is be more present on my Facebook page. You can try following me there. Be well!




Here is is, hanging “in situ”.



I feel like I created this purse out of thin air! The paper is my own design, which I painted with water color paint and had printed into a roll of wrapping paper. I then added the gold and iridescence. It looks distressed, but it really has added depth. And then there is the female figure on the cigar label. She was a plain as a brown mouse. So I did tart her up a bit. (Oh yes, I did.)  I opted to not put any smoking related graphics on her, since this was another one of those labels that had no branding on it.

And so, she became to be known as Belle. What else would you name this gal?

I snuck in a photo of business cat, Office Floor Manager, Finnegan T. Butters on photo-shoot day. (The T. stands for “Trouble”.)

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This Montecristo cigar box came partially encased in a lovely reddish-brown suede, which I cannot tell is “real” or not. As many of my boxes are, it was gifted to me and it had a lot of the finishing done and the hinges “on board” were some of the best I could ever install on my own. It only needed a bit more decoration in the form of grasscloth, some fake leather flowers and cork.

Inside, I used some French wallpaper tape border, a unique find on Etsy. It came from a seller in France, and was vintage. Apparently, this was a “thing” in decorating some years back. I have a few yards of it (in three different styles) to play with. Expect to see more of it in future projects.




Close up of French wallpaper tape.




Earlier this year, my friend Charlie asked me to make a purse as a surprise for his wife, Barbara. He provided me with a stack of her favorite nature and bird oriented greeting cards to choose images from. Together, we selected this beautiful image by air brush artist Wendy Morgan to make into a cigar-styled label for a purse. For the image itself, I only gave it an aged look and then added the bijoux and some jeweled eyes and a rather generic “Havana Finest Cigars” graphic. The paper I used for the interior is one of those lovely World Market papers I am so fond of lately.

I am very pleased with how it turned out. Barbara was thrilled and very surprised!




The back of the greeting card, giving credit to the artist, Wendy Morgan.


Oh Boy… So behind. So… so behind.

So, I greet you and apologize for taking this long to end my hiatus and get back to blogging here. That is not to say that I haven’t been making purses. Making purses is always easier than blogging, for me. I think I have purses to blog here backed up from May. Wow. Anyway…

Here we have a purse I made for a friend Betsy. Betsy and I met online through a group dedicated to supporting a favorite big cat sanctuary. So, it only made sense when Betsy was faced with a health crisis that any purse I made for her be beautiful and empowering, embodying strength and grace. And have a pacified tiger on it! This old label was something I had acquired a couple a years ago. I don’t even know if it is a cigar box label. It had no text on it. But hey! That just meant I could add my own. So I give you… Betsy’s Victory! Betsy, if you are reading this, may this beauty of a purse carry your strength and victory on those days when it’s hard. I wish you only the best of health.

More purses coming over the next few days…




When you have a beautiful handmade antique hand strap like this one, you might hesitate to use it unless the right purse presents itself. That finally happened. I had this lovely red leather handle for ages. It really belonged on this purse.

World Market paper (again). You’ll be seeing lots of WM paper in purses coming up. It’s extraordinary stuff, and it is also good quality paper. I love the neutral interior (that’s a Paper Source paper) with the pops of color added.

The giant studs just seemed to belong.

Thanks for visiting.



A beautiful handmade paper from World Market. This is one of those ones that photos does not do justice to the paper. It almost resembles cloth in “real life”.

The shiny, shiny coins are turning out to be the hardest to source. The Internet is loaded with antiqued stamped Republique Francaise coins.But those shiny ones in larger sizes are proving to be tough.

So, here’s where I admit to a flaw on the design. Can you see it? I reveal it below…



Another one of my “bikini connector” hand straps. It seemed perfect for this elegant purse. 



And there’s the flaw. The box slides open from the bottom and could potentially spill out the contents. I figured this out after the thing was made. Still, I’m fine with how it turned out. And I’ve already take it to dinner with no problems. 


More cork fabric. This time stenciled and hand painted with a “trellis” design. The handle is what is nifty with this one. It’s a vintage leather briefcase handle. And it’s meant to fold down flat, neatly tucked next to the purse in the back. The cross-over strap is removable for another option.


Now you see the handle…


Now, you don’t see the handle. 



Here’s a fun one. Another one of these gorgeous World Market wrapping papers. But I also stenciled Dimensional Magic in the shape of flowers over the paper giving it a textured, almost wet look on the surface. The sides of the box are covered in cork fabric and then I added that floral trim over the cork plus on the handle.



It’s amazing, but that is just paper. It looks like gold metal. 



French Quarter

My nephew Lorenzo, now all of nine years old, had a very specific theme in mind for his Mother’s Day gift for his mom. He wanted it to be New Orleans themed and spooky. Generally, either myself or his grandma help him with his gifts, and this time it was my turn. I decided a purse as a great gift box for some spooky or NOLA themed items would be the best option. And hey! Any excuse to make a purse, right?

The surface of the purse is covered with a metallic, almost bronze-looking wallpaper remnant resembling ceiling tin that I got on eBay for about $11 for a generous amount. (I will be making more purses with this paper. It’s stunning.)

The handle is a NOS metal arch style that had lost some of its luster sitting in someone’s garage or someplace unprotected from air. It was the perfect shape, but was too tarnished. So I constructed a “scrunchie” tube from some panne velour velvet and anchored it to the handle with rivets. Ugly tarnish covered, and it feels nice to hold.



The image inside was purchased as a digital file from Etsy. The photographer is Michael Collins and his shop is BienvillesSouthPix. Check him out. I purchased a few images from other photographers. But I thought his with those vibrant colors would look the nicest in this purse. FrenchQuarter3

I really wanted the feeling of looking at that balcony as though the viewer is physically across from it and on their own wrought iron balcony. So I pieced together several Dresden scrap pieces into a collage that resembled wrought iron, and then painted it black. The Mardi Gras colors were an afterthought, and I added the doubloons and the beads around the mirror. I’m pleased with the outcome. FrenchQtrDet4FrenchQtrDet2FrenchQtrDet3

For the final perfect touch, one vintage French silver bullion metal tassel. Easily the most expensive thing on the purse. I added the Fleur-de-Lis charm and the pearl and rhinestones. It was made to be on this purse.



My nephew also asked for some jewelry (I got an inexpensive, but beautiful wrap bracelet that matched the pale tones of the purse’s exterior) and #6 in the Dark Shadows DVD series. Both fit perfectly inside the purse. My nephew impressed me with his detailed request. You can tell he gave it a lot of thought. And when he gave it to his mom he said “It’s made of diamonds, pearls, gold, and silver, and is worth at least ten thousand dollars” which gave me a laugh!  Well, I think I impressed him, at least.

Happy Mother’s Day to all and to my sister. This was lots of fun to make and share with you. Thanks for stopping by.



Marbled Ocean

I’m gushing with pride over this one. Sometimes these purses just take on a life of their own as I am creating them. Ocean, here, demanded more and more bling and an inspired hand strap that I created myself out of a bikini connector. For those not familiar, these are the connectors on the side of very expensive bikinis that are generally used for competition. Not being familiar with this at all, I really cannot account for how I discovered them, other than stumbling on it. Right off the bat, I noticed that it has a nice squared loop at either end that lends itself to attaching to a strap which I made with stud rivets and vegan leather.

The front is grasscloth that I decorated using the ombre technique that I am so hooked on at the moment. I’ve included a photo of the “latch” which is constructed out of various bits of gold scrap that I cut up using manicure scissors. Tedious, but worth it. The actual latch is really not very pretty alone, and it needed something to tie it with the gold embellishment on the front. The interior is lined with brown cork fabric and decoupaged bits of paper. This purse has it all, pearls, fleur de lis, rhinestones and a tassel, of course.





Marbled Lava

This is my first ever clutch. Why the hesitation, you may wonder. Even though the decoupage medium that I use is a hard coat, I really have no idea how it will hold up under the grip of sweaty or oily hands. But my purses are nothing if not experiments. So, here is my experimental clutch.

The paper reminds me of a Pucci scarf. I highlighted the gold with a bit of Perlex pigment mixed with glitter since the hard coat will naturally take some iridescence away. Of course, I wanted that back. I just love this one.





Clean hands only, hopefully.


Placemat #2 (The one with Banksy on it)

Another purse decoupaged with a serving paper from Hester and Cook. Sadly, this particular one appears to be out of stock. What I loved about it was the distressed look of the paper. I really had very little to do with that part of it, other than adding a gold heat embossed Banksy image (which is also, sadly, gone.) The edges are covered in a chocolate brown cork fabric and I placed the studs in flowers around the edge.

Inside is my favorite pink marbled paper. I made the hand strap myself out of gold-flecked cork flat ribbon. Another horse hair tassel was attached (I am loving them so much lately), and it was done.




Purse with the serving paper. 


Yep, that's a placemat!

Placemat #1

I am constantly looking for neat and interesting paper. This one happens to be a paper placemat, made for one time use. These are from Hester and Cook and they are so lovely. Almost too pretty to eat off of. They come in a pad of tear-off sheets, and I will be making more of these!

The interior is a collage of images that I hoped would be an unexpected surprise when the purse is opened. I’ve also been playing some more with cork fabric, which is wrapped around the edges of the purse and rivets added for decoration.

I’m calling this Placemat #1 because I have another one to show you next.


Yep, that’s a placemat!





Yep, that’s a placemat on there!




This one is for fun. A hexagon shape with a wrist strap. The tassel is dyed horsehair.

The Last Battery Purse – Anise


You might remember my other purses of this type. I call them The Battery Purses. That’s how the cigars that came in them were branded and the shape is evocative of a battery. I can tell you now, these boxes are as scarce as hen’s teeth. I feel lucky that I managed to get my hands on three. This is the last empty one. (On the planet! I’m convinced!)

I imagine this being used as a pretty awesome wedding purse. Forget getting a cell phone to fit in it. This is also the first purse I have ever made with silver hardware. Because my original inspiration to start making purses was mainly artistic interpretations of traditional-looking cigar boxes, and cigar box labels are mainly gilt in gold coins and other bijou and rarely, if ever, in silver I didn’t have any supplies on hand. Since I have taken more evolutionary steps towards more fashionably modern purses, I believe you will be seeing more of my bags with silver hardware.

This again is that same reptile embossed paper that I have used on several purses now. I love the stuff. It comes in a beautiful, almost iridescent cream color but can be colored. It’s a staple in my craft studio.

Battery_Anise2 Battery_Anise3


So here we have Obelisco. It’s a large purse. The reptile “skin” on the front and back is paper. (No animals were harmed… etc.) I am also experimenting with cork fabric. That’s the brown colored material you see on the sides.

Again, the desert dry air messed with me a bit. The box was in my closet drying out and by the time I got around to finishing it, the box no longer closed completely. My only idea was to buy supply of gold colored corded fabric piping and use a few layers of it around the edges of the box to close the gap. I decided I really liked the way it looked and I will be using it on other purses in the future. It gives it a nice finished look.

Inside, the box came with some partitions that confined the cigar product to a small area of the box. I flipped those over, decoupaged everything inside and it made some nice compartments to keep things organized. I like how it turned out.

Obelisco_Front Obelisco_AngledFront



If you are lucky, you know a friend like Karie. She’s sweet, funny, caring, and she’s got great taste. And she likes the color green. She also makes you think about things and pushes you to stretch and grow. So it is only fitting that by making this purse, I have learned a LOT! The cork was a new thing for me. And even when I asked her “Do you like cork?” and she said “No”, I had to find a way to make it work. So, I made the cork gold. It plays like leather, so I decided to teach myself a thing or two about setting studs. I like the look of eyelets, and had them on hand. And there you have it. Dressy and sweet, just like Karie is. Though the handle is pretty, I’d like a slightly thicker handle on it, and so I will allow one guess who is now exploring making her own purse handles. I am up for the challenge and the growth. Karie would really have it no other way!


Image shows front, using grasscloth, cork, and eyelet rivets.


I wanted the interior to feel like a mini-vacation.


Close-up of ombre technique.

eBay + World Market + Vintage = Glam

Here is a recent bag. The paper is a handmade one I got from World Market. The stones are a junk jewelry necklace I acquired from eBay and cut apart. The handle is NOS. I thought the overall effect was very glam. Dolce_Front Dolce_Interior

A bag of many issues

You must excuse the busy-ness of this bag. After the arduous task of moving last year, weeks went past before I was able to get back in the studio to work on anything. One night, I decided to pick a box that wasn’t in the best shape (the desert air warps many of my boxes) and “get back into” the swing of things. The result was this very busy, very overworked box. This is why I say that my boxes are for decorative purposes only although certainly, they will withstand an evening or two out on the town for dinner. But mainly my boxes are to ogle. The box is my canvas. I also tell this tale as a way to answer the question of why I am currently not selling my boxes. I would simply not know how to price such an object. I do, on occasion, “rehab” a purse to make the latch closeable and firm, but I mainly try to use existing hardware which often times was not meant to do more than enclose cigars for transport to the cigar retailer or the consumer.


There is A LOT going on here. Embossing, decoupage, many clashing stones. Oh! And a tassel.


You can’t see it in this photo, but the lid is quite warped and I used a chipped mirror. Practice, practice, practice.

I am exploring ways that I can justify selling. But for now, enjoy them here in my gallery. As always, I welcome your comments and thank you for visiting.

And now for something a little different…

This was one of those smallish paper parasols that you can buy or rent for outdoor events like weddings to provide shade for guests. These were, in fact, used in my brother-and-law’s wedding in their pure white form. For their 1 year wedding anniversary, I decoupaged it in my sister-in-law’s (also the recipient of this purse) wedding color – purple – and gave it as a gift. I think the photos turned out exceptionally well too. untitled-103 untitled-105 untitled-106 untitled-108-Edit-Edit untitled-110


I made this purse for a very special young woman in my family who is currently going through treatment for breast cancer. Her father, who happens to also be my husband, told me that she and her sister find special meaning in the song You are my Sunshine. I had never made a musical purse before, but this seemed like the perfect blending of music box movement and purse. It is an ornamental purse, for sure. Meant to sit prettily on a shelf and cheer a fighter on, or to play the music box in case of an emergency need of a hug. Even though it looks like it is made of leather, the box is clad in a paper product made to look like a brownish red crocodile skin. Winning, all around.

And, yes, together we will and ARE winning over cancer.

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Another one of those nifty Flor Fina boxes. This one has sort of a Mediterranean feel to it. Kallos is a classical form of the Greek word for beauty.





The Battery Purses

These were very fun. I have one more blank box left and they are extremely hard to find. I’m thinking an all white one would be pretty. But grasscloth would be lovely too.
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I’ve been wanting to do a round purse. (I’m always on the lookout for unusually shaped boxes.) As soon as I saw this box, I envisioned a musical instrument of some sort.  Also, it’s worth mentioning that I do switch straps around on my bags, so that rather pedestrian-looking one will at some point be swapped out with a gold one. I like this one worn cross-body, resting on the hip.


Here it is next to the box in its original form. Yes, that is a gasmask on the original (which I find to be a bit weird on a cigar box.)




The Tourist

Last summer, we bought a house in central Oregon. We made plans to meet my Bestie and her husband in town when the sale of the house closed and we were going to have the big signing. About the same time, I ordered this dress online. When it arrived, I knew I had to make a purse for it and wear it to a nice dinner with my BFF and family in our new town. I am very pleased with how it turned out. I give many of my purses away, but this one is meant to go with this dress and it’s just “for me”. I can’t wait to wear it again, when nice weather returns, which won’t be long now. I called it The Tourist in honor of it being the one last time I was a tourist before becoming a “resident”.


The Tourist

I needed a purse to match this dress!

I needed a purse to match this dress!

Materials. Paper, napkins, cigar box

Materials. Paper, napkins, cigar box

The Tourist

Front"ish" view

Front”ish” view

Yoiks! Look at that dirty mirror for the photo!

Yoiks! Look at that dirty mirror for the photo!



Hi there!

I’m trying to catch up. One bit of (now old) news is that I moved households. Like 6 months ago! So, I have been making purses. And taking photos of them. But blogging? Nay.

And I see the WordPress interface looks nothing like its former self, so I have no idea what I am doing. I have to learn it all over again. Six months WP people! I’m lost.

So let me start with this little purse. I gave it to my former neighbor who is affectionately called “Sundrah” by her hubby. I miss those guys so much. But she has a purse to remember me by.  And I hope you like it too.



Cupido Exquisito

I love the Cupido label. I made another one with the label prior to this one that turned out quite nice. Shhhh… this one is a surprise birthday gift for a special friend.


No. 35 Music

Padron No. 35 box, a favorite of mine.
Grasscloth wallpaper remnant, Inka Gold paint, embellished

You can see the first purse I made using a Padron No. 35 Serie 1926 box here.

No. 35_Music_SideNo.35_Music_FrontNo. 35_Music_InteriorNo. 35_Back

Corn Flower

Another one using one of the La Gloria boxes.


The Aristocrat

Sometimes I don’t have exactly the right label for a box, so I make one from various bits of scrap. Here is one I made from a copy of a page from an old costume book.





Peyote Stitch Bags

Many years ago, back in the Jurassic period when I had better eyesight, I used to make these eyeball-killing tiny jewelry-bags. I would graph out the designs on paper first, and then sew row upon row made of individual beads to construct the tiny bag, and then embellish with tons o’ beads and bling decadence.

Autumn1 Autumn2 Autumn3 BeautifulPrecious1 BeautifulPrecious2 BeautifulPrecious3 FirstBag1 FirstBag2 FirstBag3 FirstBag4 Versailles1 Versailles2 Versailles3

Dump Pinterest, save elephants

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Dump Pinterest, save elephants. That’s the terrible choice I found myself tasked with making.

Here’s something to know about me. I love elephants. I have spent the last couple of years learning about their plight. How they are being poached into near extinction in some places for their ivory so that carving factories in China and elsewhere can make bracelets, objet d’art, and other bric-a-brac that NO ONE on earth could possibly need in the Plastic Age we live in. It’s grotesque and goes against everything I hold and believe in principle. Poaching decimates families, offspring are orphaned (if the poachers allow them to live at all). Many organizations – many, many people – from many countries work tirelessly to end this barbaric practice. Rangers, dedicated heroes who put themselves in the line of fire, have given their LIVES trying to save the elephant. Gunned down in the savannahs, parks and preserves alongside the elephants. In one recent and particularly heinous case, poachers poisoned a water hole with cyanide. Along with 90+ elephants, hundreds of other animals also died. Some estimates put the amount of animals stricken in this case at over 300. Terrorist groups use poaching to fund their operations, which is why the Clinton Global Initiative and other organizations are now becoming actively involved to help stop poaching. Boko Haram, the group most recently known for kidnapping over 200 school girls in Nigeria regularly uses poaching as a funding source.

Among the Internet stores and retailers who clearly don’t “get it”, is Rakuten. Based out of Tokyo, the company’s revenues totaled $4.6 billion with operating profits of about $244 million in 2012. Rakuten’s online Japanese retail outlet has 28,000 entries for ivory items for sale. Conservation groups say that Rakuten is the largest online retailer of elephant ivory. If you consider that over 22,000 elephants were killed in 2012 alone, you begin to see that the species clearly cannot survive indefinitely at these rates. All for a bracelet or a bauble and to fund terrorists. Rakuten might as well give the terrorist poachers loaded weapons.

Yes, I do love elephants. But I also love Pinterest. I was an early user of the site, many years ago when it was by invitation only. I post things that inspire me as an artist as well as use it to promote my own art. I love that it’s dynamic, and I have loved watching its growth over the years. But I cannot continue to support Pinterest after I learned that they took $100M investment from a company that sells elephant tusk ivory and only recently stopped selling whale meat (good God YUCK). Aside from the fact that this investment also heralds an expansion into a retail-driven Pinterest experience, which really goes against my grain, the elephant thing isn’t going to work for me.

All this is a preamble to say that the good folks at WordPress have met my needs and created a theme that allows me to make my own pinboard for my own creative ideas. It will take me a long time, but I hope to get most, if not all, of my pins transported here. It’s a solo experience, being that it is just populated with my “pins”, but I’d love to share my aesthetic with you.

If the whole Pinterest-Rakuten thing bothers you too, there are options out there. Indulgy is also very useful, if you are a heavy Google user. There are others. Just do a websearch on “Pinterest alternatives”. No, none are as prolific, ubiquitous, or as beautiful as Pinterest. But you do have options.

So, here we go… click the little elephant bug below and I’ll see you over there.

Elephant bug square


A certain young niece of mine turned 15 on March 30th. I thought the occasion deserved a purse. I call this one “Coco” and I gave it to her as a gift.






CraigsList Night Stand – Cigar label renovation

Here you can see the “Before”. Nothing special. The paint was a high gloss black, inexpertly applied. It was pretty dinged up and dirty, in some places past the veneer level. I think we paid $20. The piece itself might have been considered quality but affordable furniture back in its day. Sadly, the paint job ruined any value it may have had on its own, and the wood is nothing special. A perfect piece to re-do and put in the guest bedroom.


Painted a satin off-white and applied some subtle paper as a background. Already, it looks better!


And then the fun part!

L’ Invitation

Musical: La Vie en Rose

(No, the above YouTube link is not me.)

L'Invitation - Musical cigar box purse by ChickieLou L'Invitation - Musical cigar box purse by ChickieLou L'Invitation - Musical cigar box purse by ChickieLou L'Invitation - Musical cigar box purse by ChickieLou L'Invitation - Musical cigar box purse by ChickieLou