Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I have always loved vintage purses. I bought my first one at a church rummage sale when I was about 14: It was wrapped in tissue paper and stored in a little box. I knew it was special and I wanted it. My mother argued that it was too old-fashioned and I wouldn't use it. Still, I persisted and paid my own 35 cents for it. I carried it as an evening bag throughout high school and college and I have it to this day. I bought a lot more vintage purses after that and I have carried a vintage purse a lot of the days of my life. Vintages purses have been my signature fashion item all my adult life.

When I first learned that Stampington & Company were going to publish a magazine called "Haute Handbags", I was intrigued. In fact, I was moved to take action. I began to buy up scratched and damaged vintage bags with the vague idea that I would learn in Haute Handbags how to collage directly onto the purses so that I could cover any damaged or worn spots. I looked particularly for bags that had sturdy handles and clean linings. No musty smells. Beautiful well-made handbags of the 1940's, 50's, and 60's that deserved to be given a second life. They were the kind of bags I had carried most of my life.

After studying every single page of volume 1 of that magazine, I was inspired to begin what I can only call my year long vintage purse project. Without the courage to risk destroying a vintage purse, I first experimented on a damaged bag I bought at the fashion shop for $4. Bolstered by that success, I spent the next year experimenting restoring my vintage bags with glues, papers, fabric, and other embellishments. I even came to love the bags so much that I was able to use some of the bags that were not damaged, decorating them, I felt, rather than destroying them. I made purses with special meaning for myself and others by incorporating family photos and items suggested by those photos. I made some "story" purses of families and friends adopted in local flea markets and antique stores. I love these purses and I am glad to be able to share some of them with you.

In the midst of this purse project, I learned that there were Yahoo! altered art groups and I joined a few. This opened up a whole world for me that I had had no idea existed. Although I've struggled with my marked computer handicap, and have rarely posted any art of my own in those groups, I have been blessed and inspired by the many and varied works of the members of those groups. Eventually, I had enough confidence to send in some Halloween pieces in response to Somerset Studio's challenge. One of those pieces was chosen for their new magazine Somerset Holidays & Celebrations. I was surprised and over the moon! I told the guy who waited on me at Starbucks and several other strangers. It seemed too good to be true. I had to wait for four l-o-n-g months for the publication date and I had trouble thinking that it would really happen. It was really thrilling to see my little shadow box in that magazine.

In the meantime, I sent some of my purses to Altered Couture and I am lucky to have one of them in an article by the editor in the current Winter edition. It is my Princess Bag with the little girl and her father. I am going to post it here and a few others. (No doubt they will be the wrong size and in the wrong place, but if you read my previous post, you understand)

In all this I learned a very important thing which I want to share with you: Come closer to the screen so that you do not miss a word: It is unlikely that you can be a published artist if you do not submit your work to be considered for publication. So, every single one of you out there, who would like to be published, send something in, not just once, but as many times as it takes. If you don't get published the first time, it doesn't mean your work is not good, just that they don't have a place for it. Persevere: One of your fondest dreams could come true. Isn't that worth the cost of a little postage?


StegArt said...

Hi, congratulations on getting your purses is quite thrilling when that happens. I love the paper dolls I saw down at the bottom of your blog. Fun! Thanks for visiting my blog.

Belle said...

I think your blog is fantastic! Love the purses