“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).”

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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.




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.

San Julia

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.

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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.


PowWow (or proof there is or was a cigar label for just about everything in life)

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!!!!!!!

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And so we begin another spring…

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.




Betsy Two

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.



Trellis stencil.







Here is Maiden, named for the collage image inside of the purse. I purchased the image on Etsy. I love the native, Caribbean feel of it. I wish I knew more about it.

Again, we have the persnickety appliques on cork (see the sides). But I learned a lot from the previous purse I made.


If anyone knows anything about this image, I’d love to hear from you. I added all the gold elements to it.


That’s not an optical illusion. The paint on the edges is “hombre”.



Hello, all! And Happy soon-to-be-Spring.

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.



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.

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. 


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 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.)






Exquisitos Front


Exquisitos Detail

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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!

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 – Top View


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.





Rosado Oscuro – minaudiere

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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.






Jena and her pink flourish


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

Cigar Box Purses

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