Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The search for the perfect handbag






Guadalupe handbag, originally uploaded by lorimarsha.





It all started in the car on the way to LA. I was looking forward to spending a day with girlfriends- shopping...lunch...conversation. We hadn't decided exactly where we were headed and in between the talk about boutique vs. outlet vs. designer consignment, I mentioned I was looking for the perfect handbag. I "sort of" had a picture in my mind of what it would look like. First question from Cathy was "Why do you want to buy a handbag when you make them?" Hard to explain that one and at the time, I don't think I offered up a very good answer. But I've thought about it a lot since then and it's because I wanted a "go to" bag...sturdily constructed to serve all purposes in a kind of warm neutral color. Most of my designs are what I would call "extra" bags. The kind you pull out for a specific reason and when you're moving stuff from one to the other, you have to decide which of your handbag contents you can live without.

Anyway, the day with friends was perfect even though I didn't find the perfect bag. I didn't realize it at the time but it appears my new mission was to make a handbag for myself that fit my description. The following week I made two handbags from some soft buttery leather leftover from a friend's reupholstery projects. The first one was too small. The second one was too soft. They didn't pass my own criteria because at that time, I hadn't fullly defined the perfect handbag. Another glimpse of glaring obviousness. It's important to define what you want.

The following week, I ordered a new riveting machine, harness leather and heavier solid brass hardware. The recycling aspect of my work is important to me, so I knew that the body of the bag would always be recycled from salvaged leather garments. But in another moment of clarity, I realized that I wouldn't be compromising myself to upgrade my materials in the areas that get the most wear.

So yesterday I finished this handbag. It is my prototype for my own "perfect" handbag. I'm still tweaking the details but this is pretty darn close.

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