April 25, 2015

On My Arm

    I love beautiful things. My home is my sanctuary and the gallery of my life, my love of art and music and handiwork. I am fortunate that, as a young girl, I had an artist beside me to guide my hands as I learned to pass the yarn over a needle to create a knit stitch or to roll thread between my thumb and forefinger to make to make a knot. My father, who was a fix-it man, gave me the confidence to take on a project without fear of failure. And now I love making beautiful things. From the spark of an idea, or an artistic need that must be fulfilled, a project will begin in my imagination and take on a life of its own. With eyes closed I will build and rebuild it, speculating how to make it more functional and more beautiful until I have crafted a three dimensional picture in my mind and assembled a plan and materials list. It can become like an obsession, a project that must be made real and that I long to hold in my hand. Of course there always looms the risk of failure; the possibility that the imagined article falls short of my envisioned piece of art as it becomes reality, but that prospect usually leaves me undeterred. I have learned, through trial and error, that there is just as much chance that the project will exceed my imagination.
      I cannot spend all of my time tucked away in the artistic refuge of my home, nor would I want to either. Outside of my door there is beauty and there are experiences waiting to be realized and the inspiration fueled by other artists and the joys of life. For this I take out in the world not only an open mind to absorb the influence of it all but my own collection of art and supplies and a few creations of my own personality, namely my purse. It is my tool bag, my companion, my most personalized accessory and perhaps a bit of a security blanket as well. Out in the world I feel naked without it.

My handbag, date book and Kindle:

      My friends know I adore a lovely handbag. A woman’s purse, to my way of thinking, speaks volumes about her. Inside, tucked away in her assemblage, are bits of her life and traces of her personality. For a young mother there are toys and goodies waiting to be brought out in dire times of need like those interminable waits in doctors’ offices. For a business woman her purse holds what she needs to keep her schedules and meet her deadlines. For that gal who always looks amazing, in her bag you find the tools that keep her fresh and confident. Even the handbag itself has a story to tell. One might imagine what a well-designed, serious leather handbag says about the wearer, and what she was thinking and feeling about herself when she chose it. How many generously proportioned women have we all seen carrying the very, very smallest of purses? The bag we choose says so much about us. Is it efficient and minimalist, or huge and roomy, waiting to be filled with even more treasures? Even if I do not notice a woman immediately, I almost never miss her handbag.

      For my own bags I never choose lightly. I have certain specific things I seek in a purse. It cannot be small. If I hope to carry my treasures and tools it had better have some room. Too large and voluminous, however, will not do either. I have learned not to fall for that adorable bag that resembles a bucket. On my shoulder it becomes exactly that, a pail that fills quickly with miscellaneous items that soon bury the essentials I need to retrieve. It ought not to have too many compartments. Those well-intended handbags with slots for your credit cards and center dividers and a dozen zipped compartments may be utopia for some very organized people, but not for me. If I have to memorize purse contents like a filing system I will lose that bag rather quickly. A few pockets are fine, too many becomes work.
      A good purse has to be sturdy. I have a few lighter bags I might carry for an evening out, but for every day it is best made of a good leather, real or vegan, and it should hold its shape well. As for size it ought not to be too deep or cavernous either. If I need to get out a flashlight and go spelunking every time I need to get to my wallet, that purse will find itself in a new home before long.
      It should be pretty and, even better, unusual. I must admit I simply love it when someone notices my bag and asks me about it. Immediately I feel as if I have made a connection with another handbag connoisseur. It’s just joyous to know there are other purse lovers out there in the world. For many ladies it is about the shoes but for me it is all about that purse.

      My favorite time of year for a good handbag hunt is always the spring. It is standard practice for my darling daughter and me to go out when the blooms are emerging in April and do some shopping. She speaks “purse” and it is one of the things I have loved most about having a daughter. Her rules are her own and you can find us, milling through the handbag section, while I hold up bags she might like and she shakes her head or nods approvingly to me as she shops herself. One of my most fond shopping experience memories was an excursion where I found an adorable deep green, patent leather bag for her that affectionately became known as the “jalapeno”. It was a wonderful bonding moment.

My Steve Madden wallet, tatted hankie, iPhone, honeysuckle spray and Cross signing pen:

      So, if you are still with me, and if you are, then perhaps you love a good bag as well, I will share this year’s purse project. It has been more elaborate than usual, but not unique. Because I can and enjoy making things I sewed my own bags to fill this year’s purse and loved every minute of it. Some of my purse’s contents were inspired by some clever tutorials I found online. I will include those links at the end of this posting. Perhaps you will get inspired and make a gift for yourself and your hardworking handbag.

Everything inside:

   This spring’s purse is a nice leather Balenciaga motorcycle bag in a delicious shade of mauve. It certainly fits all of my rules. It is a good size, sturdy and adorable. Inspired by the lovely color, I got a remnant of an unusual old, vintage fabric and made two bags for the inside. A cosmetic bag and what I call my “tool” bag. In my tool bag I carry those miscellaneous items like mints and pens and ear buds. I’m not that woman who carries two swabs and a sewing kit, “just in case”, but I like to have a nail clipper when I need it and not rely on another person’s purse to meet that responsibility.

Handmade cosmetic bags:

     I found a wallet in a delicious shade of teal, that I loved with the purse. I never underestimate those opposite shades on the color wheel for that perfect artistic touch. For convenience, I have added a tiny card holder this spring, for my most used credit/debit card and my business cards. Tucked in the outer pocket I am ready to plug a book, or my writing, or run my card through at the market without pulling out a whole wallet. 

Card holder:

      With my handmade bags doing much of the organizing I have lots of room for my date book. It makes me look good when I show up on time for a book signing. A pretty tatted hankie, and a honeysuckle body spray make me feel brand new. There’s also room for my reading glasses and my shades, in freshly crocheted sleeves, my keys, my good book-signing pen, and of course my beloved iPhone. I am comfortable and prepared and yet there is still room for a little bit more.

Eyeglass sleeves: 
The project at Ravelry

      The last contents are my art and inspiration: my Kindle and my tatting. With my Kindle I have a book everywhere I go, in fact, I have an entire library in my bag. I can steal a precious moment getting lost in a romantic novel or doing research for my own, next novel. When I feel I need some inspiration I sometimes read my own books. They remind me that I write what I love to read and get me excited to continue my work. When my mind is full of inspiration I think best with busy hands and right there, dangling from my purse is my tatting. I keep it in a little bag that resembles a Lakota medicine bag. I fashioned it from a bit of leather and it is perfect for a couple of shuttles, a small pair of scissors and thread. Whenever I can, I drift away in the gentle art of lace and I have my art with me to fill me with joy and contentment.

Tatting bag:

Fintie Kindle cover:

My current tatting project:

    And so, these are a few of my thoughts for this entry. Please come again next week for another foray into my wonderful life.

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