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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.

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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.

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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 !

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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.

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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:

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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!

 

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artwork · Uncategorized

Recycling and Upcycling

Last May, we said good-bye to our little apartment above the flower shop in Connecticut and said hello to a duplex in Massachusetts. Needless to say, we were short of a few pieces of furniture here and there. To date, we still do not own a sofa so it’s convenient that we also don’t really know anyone, except our next door neighbor, Pete.

For the next five months, I also didn’t have a night table so my reading lamp was on the floor beside me. So were my books and other night time indispensables (iPad and phone!). We also didn’t have storage in the living room so boxes of videos were piled up against the wall along with the wooden crates that hold my husband vinyl collection.

Finally, one weekend, we decided to visit Ikea. I didn’t like the night stands I’d been seeing at Home Goods so I decided maybe Ikea will have something I can customize. That day, we came home with a beautiful, dark blue cabinet with glass panes on the doors. We also came home with a few useful doodads but no night table.

As my husband was assembling the cabinet, I noticed that the parts came in really sturdy, thick sheets of cardboard. They looked like corrugated boards on steroids! I kept saying how it would be a shame to just pack them off along with the other recyclables.

Then it hit me–why not turn them into a night stand?! Papier mache has been around for centuries, I thought. People have made furniture using the technique. I’ve made papier mache bowls in my childhood. I’ve decorated walls and doors with paper and glue (by the way, even if the glue isn’t waterproof, it’s not easy to remove). I’d never made furniture but I figured it’ll be a good project to experiment with and learn from.

So, to my husband’s dismay, I stashed some of the packing boards in my already crowded work room.

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We don’t subscribe to any newspaper but every week we do get flyers, store and grocery newsletters and all kinds of junk mail. I started tearing those for my new project.

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If you like getting your hands in the thick of things, papier mache is a good project to try. Of course it made getting to the phone tricky but I made sure I had a towel nearby. At one point, I tried using gloves but the ones I had were a bit large so they didn’t work too well.

This was the time I plowed through a couple of audiobooks. I highly recommend Louise Penny’s mysteries. They’re the kind that you don’t want to stop listening to (or reading) and, at least for my part, will elicit a loud guffaw or two.

The project took me about three weeks to finish. I had to plug up some gaps and awkward spots with paper clay. I also wanted to soften the edges of the top a bit so I smoothed paper clay on those as well. Temperatures had also dropped by then and we’d been having quite a bit of rain so I made sure to give the piece enough time to dry.

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When I finally had all the layers I needed, I gave it a coat of primer. Then I dug out my stash of odds and ends and got those in. I found a rose I had pressed some time ago as well as a petal from another rose that was given to me. The daisy at the bottom was also from my stash of pressed flowers. Then I cut out a stencil using my Cricut.

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Here it is, almost finished! It’ll remain in that almost finished state for a bit, I suspect. One of my Instagram friends said it can be the “happy project” that I can return to whenever I’m in between projects. I told her that was a really fantastic idea.

In the meantime, I really wanted to get my reading lamp at the right height and to give my corner of the bedroom a bit of cheer. As soon as everything was dry, I brought my papier mache creation upstairs and set everything up.

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There are magazines and more books on the lower level of my new night stand. The hubby liked the finished product too.

This was a project I truly enjoyed while feeling like I did a teeny bit for the environment as well. In fact, I’ve been thinking about what to do with all the junk mail that comes every week. One can have only so many night stands, right?

That’s something to think about for sure. This website is called Paper With Everything. Maybe it’s high time I did something about all the paper coming my way!