Here we are, another year down. And yes, it’s time once again for the Chair Affair. Truthfully this year’s chair design, loosely based on “old school” tattoo flash, had been simmering in my head even before I began work on last year’s chair. I explored some of the concepts and designs that I had in mind at that time, and allowed myself to be taken down a path of fish and koi. So this year, I was determined to finally do the “tattoo chair”. Given that this chair is for a child, I limited my design image search to tame subjects such as flowers, birds, hearts, anchors, and ropes. In my search, I stumbled on the work of one artist who offered an “old school tattoo” watercolor style collection of images. I was instantly captivated. However, I felt they were maybe too painterly and lacked the black outlined look of actual old school tattoo art. So I purchased the images, and outlined the various elements. Next, I found some rope and knot images because I felt they “tied” the chair together into something that was just a little less tame. The results are a wild riot of flowers, rope, a little bit Gypsy Wagon and a little bit Dr. Seuss, with those crazy red rockers and other painted style elements. (I really did hesitate on the red, but I remembered this is for a kid! There’s no such thing as too bright.)
My husband said it best: he hoped that a parent would see this chair and think it perfect for their little “wild one”, and in that way chair and child would find each other for life.
So here we have a small, sturdy, perfectly understated little rocker. I purchased it for $10 at community sale benefiting the town of Mitchell, Oregon after they had a torrential flood last year.
I would like to thank my friend Ceci who this year, again, donated the expense of some of the images for this amazing charitable cause. My husband took the photos, for which I am grateful. Community Warehouse is a great organization. Every community needs an organization that helps people in need furnish homes. It helps families, and gives kids needed stability. I’m honored and grateful to help in any way I can.
This is unbelievably embarrassing that the last entry on this blog was almost exactly a year ago. Plus it’s on the same topic. The Chair Affair. I would link to the all the deets about what that is, but it’s literally the very next post. So scroll down (click the Home button if you have to) so you can see my contribution last year and the worthy cause that it’s for.
I have been very, very productive in the studio over the past year. My husband has taken many photos of everything I made and I still have more to shoot. If I can keep my promise to myself, I will get busy posting those in the coming days.
The chair started out as one of a pair of lacquered green children’s chair. Unfortunately, when I got the chairs home and started stripping the paint off them, I discovered that one of them had an irreparable break in it. Truthfully, I was a little relieved given how much time it took to complete one chair.
And here, without further delay, is “Koi Pond”.
(The artist who made the koi artwork can be found here.)
Many thanks to all who helped me make this donation for a great event and for a deserving child. My husband who took the wonderful photos and drove the chair 3 1/2 hours to drop it off in Portland , Robin at Community Warehouse who met up with him to make the transfer, and to my friend Ceci who donated the cost of the images for the chair.
By the time this year is over, I will hopefully have much to reflect on about new things I tried, or ways that I stretched out of my comfort zone as an artist. And this will be right up there on the list of new projects I tackled. I have decorated small furniture items before. Much of it was just junk and ready for the trash, that I couldn’t stand looking at in my own house. Stakes and investments for these projects were never lower. But here was an opportunity to make something that might actually make a difference to a child while generating donations for an organization helping people in the community who are in need. I had not heard of Community Warehouse before, even from my time when I lived in Portland. Upon further research, it really made me excited to do my part.
Community Warehouse in Portland and Tualatin, Oregon. From their website:
We connect donated household goods and furnishings to our neighbors in need, creating stronger home foundations and brighter futures.
Essentially, they are a furniture bank, connecting with local social services to get donated household and furniture items into the hands of people and families who are in desperate need. That’s their year-round effort. But once a year, in two days in fact, they have an event called Chair Affair. And I have a piece in this year’s event.
The chairs for the Chair Affair are specifically for children. That means the chairs are child sized, also donated or procured second-hand. Several artists participate in decorating the chairs and then the “Affair” part is a great gala with food, drinks, entertainment and an auction on the chairs. In the weeks that follow the event, CW works to connect each chair (which hopefully generated a lot of money at the affair to help with the program year round) with a child in need of a personal and precious chair that he or she gets to take home, for keeps.
I was offered a choice of chairs by the good folks at CW and I chose this metal bench. Even though it is small, it is very sturdy. My very small-sized kitty is in one photo so you can see the scale. I imagined a boy or girl (I really did strive to be unisex this time) sitting on this sweet little bench and reading a story or playing or just dreaming. It definitely had a musical look to it. I thought the back looked like music stands or harps. I also saw Steampunk “Lite” in it (no skulls or Cthulhu, in other words) and opted to run with that because I felt it would have broader appeal to both boys and girls. “Steampunk Flying Machines” inspired me and I proceeded to spend days scouring Etsy and other sources, buying every old concept image of dirigibles, hot air balloons and other Jules Verne inspired aircraft. Truly, I have enough unique flying machine images to decorate 10 benches.
Sometime in its lifetime, an adult sized person used the bench as a step-stool and put a nice dent in the seat, but my husband pounded it out with a mallet and it adds character.
And here is what I made, Play, Read, Imagine, Invent.
There were certain challenges with this piece. I definitely learned many lessons. The (brand name omitted) metal paint kit that was supposed to give the metal a lovely blue patina in 6 easy steps was a complete bust. The spray that makes the blue patina needed to be applied within a few minutes of applying the last coat of paint, and that was difficult given the size of the piece. It would work great on a vase or a pot. That was the one panic moment. So then I got the idea to stencil some blue elements on the edges and that not only gave it the patina but also added some visual interest. Adding flecks of blue paint everywhere else literally took me days. But it was so worth it.
I had never done image transfer before. That was probably the most satisfying effect. I had to make everything primer white first so that the lettering showed (same process as the seat) and then I had to blend and stipple it back to metal color to make it look like the words were always part of the bench.
Everything had to be poly coated afterwards, and a part of me will always wonder how it wears in an active child’s bedroom.
Our little photo studio here at home that we use to shoot photos of purses was not nearly big enough for this project. We discovered a local studio that rented for $40 an hour. It had everything we needed to shoot (we brought our own strobes and cameras) and it was good to learn about this for future needs.
Transporting the piece back and forth for the 3 1/2 hour drive to Portland may not be as easy in the future. My friends Robin and Tom got the bench to me and back out to Portland in time for the event. I had a month to do the work. I will be scouring the second hand stores near me for pieces for future Chair Affair events and it will definitely be my turn to drive it out next time.
And OH MY GOD, be sure to check out the other artists’ work for this year’s Affair. Talk about humbling to even be included. Wow.
I may not ever know who ends up with the chair, but I sincerely hope he or she loves it and treasures their time spent sitting in it.
“Possessing a creative mind, after all, is something like having a border collie for a pet: It needs to work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble. Give your mind a job to do, or else it will find a job to do, and you might not like the job it invents (eating the couch, digging a hole through the living room floor, biting the mailman, etc.). It has taken me years to learn this, but it does seem to be the case that if I am not actively creating “something, then I am probably actively destroying something (myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind).”
While it is never my goal to hawk or promote cigar boxes or smoking (don’t start, kids), I want people to be able to see the beautiful detail of this box before I did a thing to it. It’s a larger box and those “ribs” on the front and back give the box the look of an old suitcase. So I “took it on the road” in my imagination and envisioned something organic and tropical. I cut out pieces from my huge remnant of grasscloth wallpaper to put in those front and back panels and used my beeswax paints to color it to the lovely shade of peridot green you see in the photos. Then, a World Market paper on the sides of the box and a green textured paper that looks like reptile skin to frame the grasscloth. I couldn’t be done though. I needed to add some rhinestone sparkles in those “frames” on the front and back. Gold stitched fabric appliques fit perfectly on those “ribs”.
Inside, you may recognize butterflies from the Art Deco artist Emile-Allain Séguy, whose beautiful Pochoir patterns adorned clothing, fabric, wallpaper and other surfaces in the 1920s.
The vintage wooden handle looks almost like olive wood to me, with it’s riotous grain and burnished warm color.
I recall thinking of the myriad ways which I could make it part of Barbie’s “house”, which for me was usually fashioned out of a chair turned on its side with a towel for the walls. This chest seemed like a perfect doll-sized “armoire”. (“If only mom would find another place for her jewelry and just give it to me.”) It had gold velveteen-lined drawers and those doors that closed the whole thing up neatly with a satisfying magnetic “clunk”. These jewelry chests like this were commonly made in Japan back in the 60s and 70s. I believe my mother got this one at Cost Plus in North Beach, in San Francisco, when it was truly an “Imports Store” and not the chain of mall stores it is now, known as “World Market”. Cost Plus back then was an eclectic mix of incense burners, kites, teak Danish style furniture, and other assorted imported and inexpensive gewgaws. When we shopped there, I recall there was usually something that appealed to each and every member of the family. No one went home empty handed, and no one broke the bank on their allowance. And this was my mother’s choice. Or it might have been a gift from my father. Or she got it at JC Penney. Whatevs.
These chests nowadays all over eBay and Etsy, and there are some lovely decoupaged works of art made from them. So suffice it to say, this was a project that I had in mind to try for quite some time after my mother finally did give me hers. Those “swirly” shapes are outlines from some rather unattractive bent cane or bamboo that I removed moments before I snapped these pics and remembered I needed to take “before” photos. But after I removed them and the Asian or even Filipino theme they imbued, I heard The Muse in this thing say to me: “I have always wanted to be French Shabby Chic”.
Ok. French… shabby chic… sure.
I’ll pause here to add that this was long before I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, a book that discusses among other things, how creative ideas come to us, what happens when we say no to them, and what happens when we say yes. I can think of a million reasons, most of them nostalgia-based, to leave this chest alone and ignore its pleas to be transformed. It belonged to my mother. What would my sister and only sibling say? That I destroyed an heirloom, cheap as it was at the time? What would my MOTHER say? “Really? You’re going to paint over natural wood?” Some people would call that “ruining it”.
I think I procrastinated for a good 2 years before I decided last summer to take it all apart for the photos above, when I heard the little Voice Idea. Or I saw it. Elizabeth Gilbert calls it entering into a contract with inspiration. The following photos are me, following through on the contract.
The gold velveteen STAYS!
Furniture medallion “bows”, which I already had on hand, seemed to be waiting for this perfect moment.
No one was upset with me. My sister saw it last summer and loved it. My mom flipped and thought it was incredible! Yay! Not everyone reveres nostalgia to paralyzing effect like I do!
Pivoting to a personal note: I made a recent decision to undergo professional hypnotherapy to stop a life-long habit of nail and cuticle biting. As an ex-smoker, I can tell you that quitting cigarettes was easier for me than leaving my hands alone. After just two sessions, I was able to eradicate this disgusting habit from my life. For good! But in the process of reintegrating my conscious mind in the discovery of why I was doing this to my hands, I learned that I really did have some hang-ups and rather negative thoughts around my creative gift and that my primitive brain was indulging in this habit because of some deep dissatisfaction over beliefs and personal views about my creativity. I have to believe that other creative people wrestle with this from time to time. If this is something you struggle with, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic is a book I cannot recommend enough. After hypnotherapy, I was able to reaffirm what I had been suspecting for some time; that listening to the horrible news of the day is absolutely toxic to my creativity. It might be the motivation for other people’s muse. And if that’s your vibe, that’s great. But for me, it’s a creativity killer. For this reason, and because I like to practice Cognitive Anchoring when I work in the studio, I HAD to replace my habit of listening to NPR, and Canadian Radio (which I felt were calmer alternatives – WRONG!) with something more positive. So I made the decision to listen to, rather than read, Gilbert’s book. Her reading voice is pleasant and witty and it was five hours of my time that I will never regret investing. I feel like I’ve been on an amazing journey, and I’m happy to tell others about it. If this helps anyone as we begin a new year of making and creating together, then I am glad.
P.S. The link on Cognitive Anchoring above takes you to Heather Ordover’s site. Heather’s podcast Craftlit is fantastic! I’ve been creating while anchoring to Craftlit for 15 years. If you like classic literature and loved your High School English Literature class and wished it could go on forever, check out Craftlit. (She’s starting Anne of Green Gables next. Whoo hoo!)
Slowly, slowly… as Winter grinds on I’m getting back into the swing of things. I’ve had to take winter off from everything but the most simple crafting projects, which is my custom every year due to my company’s yearly bookkeeping obligations. I did make my usual holiday purse ornaments for my girlfriends and family members and for the third year in a row, failed to take a picture of even one of them. This purse, and the six to follow were ones I made last Fall.
Here we have Andrea. I love cork, as I have mentioned many times here. I put a light white wash with gold sparkling accents on the front cork, which is padded. The handle is “New Old Stock” and acquired on eBay. The trims are all synthetic leather, making it 100% Vegan, to the best of my ability to know.
It turned out lovely, but there is one drawback to this purse and many other small purses that I have made in the past: it’s too small to hold most current cell phones. Alas, one needs a pocket for that, which sort of defeats the point. But I am still happy with how it turned out.
As I have mentioned in a previous post, if there is some event to celebrate or if I desire to personalize a purse for a friend or loved one, I always shop my sources to see if there are any cigar, tobacciana, or other ephemera that fits and I am often rewarded with a match. My step mother’s name is Julia and there was a label bearing the name with a sweet scene of two love-birds smooching. It was perfect.
These are also some of my favorite papers and colors, particularly the yellow. I am so happy with how this one turned out. Lots of fleurs, roses, rhinestones, vintage scraps, vintage handle and an upholstery tassel. Happy Birthday, Julia.
Another hinged-flap purse. This purse’s paper from World Market is a clue to why I call it Pucci-esque. It’s mod, bright, colorful and has an Italian flair to it. The gold paper tape trim is vintage French wallpaper stripping. Now, I confess, I don’t really know what that is. Perhaps it was a tape strip that is applied over the seams where two sheets of wallpaper meet on the wall. I am just not sure. I acquired this style plus two other different styles from an Etsy seller in France. And if I recall correctly, the seller’s name was Sonya too. Just a neat coincidence.
Those are small gold coins glued at intervals over the tape and a vintage handle. I just love the Spring colors.
Here are the group of three “mod” purses in a group shot. Bloomberg on the left, Pucci-esque in the back, right, and Marlo in front.
When your friends get two new adorable Brittany Spaniel puppy brothers, named Pancho and Dash, it is normal for my mind to search for a way of commemorating the event with a cigar box purse. (Heh. Okay, I guess that’s just me.) But, oh my gosh, how lucky was this cigar label find? Two puppy brothers, one darker with a blaze on the snout. I swear, it was a random find. I did not draw this thing. I couldn’t, even if I tried!
And of course, the design of the purse had to be sporty, with houndstooth and plaid. But also feminine because these boys’ moms are about as feminine as the come. I’m sure I couldn’t even come close to making this as stylish as they truly are. But it’s okay because… PUPPIES!!!!!!!
Here we have beautiful Claire. With lots of trim, coins, fleurs, pearls, and a whimsical bird bath scene on the interior surface. It is a smaller purse and the bird bath inside was so lovely and large, thus this would be one of the few purses I made without a mirror inside. It just didn’t fit.
This is Bloomberg, named simply because I was watching a lot of the channel by the same name on my iPad in my studio as I made this. Why? I really don’t know. It’s a one-off, I suppose.
This is a World Market paper with “blooms” on it. German scrap painted a shocking fuschia pink was applied to the edges along with a vintage shelf edging “lace” (the “woven” looking blue and white border on either side of the front and back). The latter was a little too yellowed and aged for my liking, but I tried to whiten and brighten it with paint. Vintage handle. This one will probably stay in my private collection, because you know…PINK!!!!
Born out of necessity for “something blue” in the wardrobe, my final purse post for the evening is Disco. Hard to say if this is the ultimate blue purse for all my blue needs, but it has filled the need a few times. This is a decoupaged paper from World Market. NO CORK in this one. LOL
I’m working on more purses now, and will have more to show you, hopefully without the long delay this time.
Thank you, as always, for visiting and for your support.
Here is another “Betsy” bag. The first “Betsy” bag was made for a friend facing a challenge. This Betsy purse is named for my step-sister who gave me (one guess) MORE CORK! This in the form of cork ribbon (which I must add was wrapped on the package containing a gift of a GORGEOUS vintage handbag). The ribbon was so darn wide and incredible, I was able to wrap the entire side of a box with it! I throw away NOTHING.
This was one of those subtle-bags-on-the-outside-but-check-out-the-explosion-inside! Yowsa! Check it out.
So, this being a hobby of mine, I hope you will understand my absence. We run a small graphic design business and I am the bookkeeper. From November until late February or March, I’m working for the accountant and the tax preparers, and making purses when I have free time, or when I’ve had just about all the bookkeeping that I can stand! And then I need to work with my husband to find time to get these babies photographed. And here we are, another winter done and gone. It seems completely appropriate to start with a purse I made late last summer called “Holiday”.
This might be one of my personal favorites. The cigar box I used was a perfect size and shape (7″ x 7.5″ x 3″).
Let me tell you however, in spite of how fantastic this turned out, it was also one of the most challenging purses I have ever made. Why? Because finding a fairly non-toxic glue that adhered the G.D. appliques to the G.D. cork surface without making a mess was just about impossible. Shoe-Goo, E-6000, seemed like the best bet. But it DID NOT adhere it. It was a nightmare, and especially upsetting because I could see the purse’s loveliness, I was becoming attached and the darn things would not stick. I’m sure if I tried hard enough I could still pull them off. But I won’t. The winning glue was Gorilla Glue. But given that it requires water, it was not the cleanest experience.
Anyway, it will survive my fashion demands. But after making “Holiday”, I definitely needed a vacation.
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!
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”.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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”.
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.