Thursday, September 29, 2011

Made by Hand

 After seeing all the cool vintage stuff at the recent art shows/flea markets (Junk Market under Glass and Junk Bonanza), I was inspired.  Not to shop, and not to dumpster-dive.  Just to create something by hand.

The found and gathered materials: old army coveralls, bought en masse by my husband years ago.  Burlap. Vintage table runners, some with hand-crocheted lace. Doilies, which I've always avoided buying since I don't want to mix them in with the ones from my Grandma. Belts.
Except for the jumpers and the new burlap, everything here came from thrift stores.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I saw plenty of lace and lots of canvas at the shows. But I'm not really a lace purse kind of girl, and the canvas bags were too spendy for me.
These kind of hit the sweet spot.

This pocket, cut whole from the coverall, even has ready-made compartments for my cell phone and a pen.  Somebody else's Grandma made the doily. And the pin is a little treasure.
The reverse side of the bag shown above, next to a tiny hand-appliqued purse.

The table runner on the bag (below) is made out of what appears to be burlap thread.  I couldn't bear to cut up somebody's handiwork, so the dimensions of the bag were determined by the length of the runner.  Most of the linens I use are damaged, but this one was perfect.

I made just one bag with short handles.  These were braided from strips of army canvas and top-stitched to the bag on the outside, because I like texture.
I wondered, when I was at the "junk" shows, why they energized me so much.  Part of the reason had to do with being around creative people.  But there was more to it than that.  The rescued, restored, re-imagined goods were almost all made, originally, in America.  Can you read the fine print on the tag in the above photo?  It's a reflection of our consumer culture.  The label might be a status symbol, but all I see is mass-production.
 Which is why anything I own with the touch of the artist, whether an old Peruvian pot or a European pillow sham or a redesigned piece by my jeweler friend, is of great worth. The objects are hard to find, and often impossible to replicate. They remind me that we are all made in the image of the One who loves us, and whose creativity imbues all the world with the spark of the holy.
(The bags featured in this post are available at Les Junc, Zimmerman, Minn., open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) 

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