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The 2018 Bag


The 2018 Art Bag

It was time for a new bag. I wanted one with lots of color, lots of fun things. The great thing about making something for myself was I didn’t have to think about pleasing anyone. There was freedom to put in anything I wanted without having to explain how or why. I knew what I wanted inside the bag, too. Pockets for cards and cash so I could do away with worrying about the size of my wallet, maybe something to hold a pen too.

When you stop to consider all the things that have to be in a bag, it makes the whole process a bit daunting. I’ve been listening to audiobook versions of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series and in one of them, Anita says something about how it takes no less than 10 minutes (or was it 15?) for a woman to go through her bag when she’s looking for something.

Brings to mind an incident with my dad. He had had his stroke and was using a cane but offered to hold my bag so I could lift my toddler out of the van. My dad almost toppled sideways when I handed him the bag. In fairness, I had a toddler. That means carrying almost half of the nursery in the bag and then some.

Well, the toddler’s taller than I am now and cooks lunch.  Anything in the bag now is mainly for myself. The only communal item that goes in is the hand cleaner. So unless they were for traveling, the bags I’ve been using have gotten smaller.

A friend of mine once called the bags I made “happy bags” because of the colors I tend to use. I love color. My favorite is actually white which is supposed to be the presence of all colors. However, I do tend to keep reaching out for oranges when I’m painting. Then when I’ve got the orange down, I feel like I just have to have a few pinks in as well. Then the pinks tend to call in other colors. You get it, right?

Anyway, the new bag. I went on Pinterest and did the Google image search before deciding on a shape I wanted to try. When I was ready, it was just a matter of preparing the substrate. In this case, it was leftover canvas that I primed with gesso.


Then I traced the pattern onto the primed canvas. I knew I wanted to sew the bag the way I did the stuffed figures I’d made for the Christmas Fair. Since the bag was small, I didn’t want to worry about having to turn it inside out and all that. I trimmed the canvas allowing a quarter inch excess from the traced edges.

The next bits were the best. I painted, glued, stamped and sewed to my heart’s content. My collage didn’t really have an actual theme or story. I just picked up what looked like it belonged. I used Mod Podge to glue papers down though I did sew on the ticket from the Met just in case.


It took me a while to decide on the strap. I didn’t want to spend unnecessarily. I wanted to use up whatever I had in my stash. I had enough of the cotton woven strap you see in the picture. I was hoping I had one in a darker color but I’d used those up.

Then I decided to add embroidery and bits of fabric to the strap. I sewed a strip of ribbon that must have come with a gift on the back of the strap to hide my knots. I was quite pleased with myself and even more pleased that the serendipitous ribbon was the right length !


I sewed up the lining as planned and added a kind of strap to hold the bag closed. I didn’t want to insert magnets mainly because I was lazy. I just embroidered on the leftover piece of strap and made a heart from Paperclay. The cords you see were made using a Kumihimo loom and embroidery thread.


If you already sew and you’d like to make a bag of your own, I made a PDF of the bag pattern. The strap is about 45 inches long without the inch and half allowance on each end (I’m about 5’6″ and the strap is meant to cross the body). The hanging strap that keeps the bag closed is about 6 inches with 2 inches extra for folding under.

I may do a step by step in the future but this is all I can do for now. Here’s the link to the pattern:


If you do decided to give it a try, send me pictures of your work! If you have questions or need help with your bag, send me an email!


art · collage · Fine Art America · Lisa Congdon · mixed media · painting · prints · searching · sewing · style

In Search Of

My son Josh gave me Lisa Congdon‘s book, Art Inc. for my birthday. How did he know about it? Well, I’ve taken to putting things I like on my Amazon Wish List. Saves on guesswork and both son and hubby seem to appreciate the simplicity of it. On my end, I get what I actually want!

It took me a while to get back on track after the MATS Bootcamp, the MATS GTS, the MIID Summer School, and even the Spoonflower 30-Day Challenge were all over. Suddenly there were no real deadlines, no design briefs or prompts. I was on my own.
I did learn a great deal from having gone through the assignments and challenges. I also realized that it was time to try and put a finger on what actually defined my style. Lisa Congdon talks about this in her book. She also talks about how having access to so much artwork by other artists can both inspire and discourage. She got that bit spot on.
Seeing the work of other artists on the bootcamps and contests was inspiring but it also raised doubt on my part about my own ability to create art that was not only good but that was truly mine. At my age, I feel as if I should have gotten that straightened out by now, but I also recognize the fact that it’s not that straightforward for someone like me. I like doing too many things and trying everything out. There are dolls to sculpt, stories to illustrate, totes to paint and sew. There are techniques old and new to try my hand at, media I’ve never used and just discovering, and even scraps hold promises of artwork that could prove to be exciting and fun. All of that make for a really busy mind!
Once in a while, I do find some moments of quiet and when I do, the words of friends come to mind. More than once, the art I do when I’m not not aiming for any kind of look or style, had been described as sweet, as innocent, and even quiet and comforting. And then I look back to my earlier years when I would draw for my grandmother (whose birthday is today) and see, in my mind’s eye, the silhouettes of children that I drew with a black marker and how I tried to put in color by adding hearts using a red marker! There were others with more color though I think I thought I was being sophisticated by limiting my color palette to just red and black!
But these memories seem to be reminding me of what my art is really about. I grew up making art largely influenced by Holly Hobby and Joan Walsh Anglund. Along the way, there have been elements picked up from other artists and it was good to be able to try new things. But now it’s time to step away and take a good, long look at where I want to go.
This is why when Lisa Congdon began to explain how to make a Vision Map, I tore out a page from my sketch pad and followed along. I got rid of the doubts. I got rid of realistic. I wrote down what adventure I wanted waiting for me. I wrote down my Values and Intermediate Goals.
Today I scanned three of the artwork I’d been making with my Gelli plate and put them up on Fine Art America. They’re not sweet or innocent but I think of them as fun. I’m going to revisit the days I spent making art for my Grandmother and see what comes of it. With any luck, I’ll finally come up with artwork that will truly be mine.

Here are the prints:

Art Prints

Art Prints

Art Prints

art · collage · Gel Printing Plate · Gelli Plate · paint · paper · playing · wish list

September Collage

If I could have a few wishes at my disposal, one of them would be to have a room stocked with all the  amazing art and crafting supplies I could ever need. But since that isn’t possible at the moment, the Amazon Wish List option has to be it.

Lucky for me, my hubby and my son know about that list so one of my early birthday presents was the much coveted Gel Printing Plate by Gelli Arts. Other than allowing me to play with paint and paper, it must be one of the easiest things to clean. The website has lots of video tutorials to get you started. My plate’s been on my work table since it came and no matter how many times I’ve cleaned and put it away, I find myself reaching for it again and again.

Today I decided to try making a collage piece using pages of tracing paper that I used for blotting excess paint. I also made random prints just because it’s fun to roll out paint with a brayer. This is what I have so far. It’s largely unfinished. I have an image running around in my head that’s not made itself clear just yet. It’s just nice to see the beginning of something specially when it winds up looking really different in the end.

Here’s a video from the Gelli Arts website that you might enjoy!