Sunday, December 28, 2008

Handpainted "Hawaiian Expressions" Silk Handbag

In collaboration with Hawaii artist, Stephanie Bolton, I am pleased to announce the release of the first in a series of "Hawaiian Expressions" handbags.

I enjoy making beautiful handbags and have chosen Stephanie Bolton, a Big Island Hawaii artist to work with to create "Hiapo". As my groupies know, I always name my diva bags after their completion and since this beauty is in Stephanie's "Hawaiian Expressions" series, I chose a Hawaiian name for this bag. (pronounced Hee ah po) The name means first born and I celebrate this bag as the beautiful work of art that she is.

This bag is made from an irridescent dark red dupioni silk with the front panel being handpainted on heavy cotton canvas.

The painting is an acrylic on canvas of a polynesian girl with a flower behind her ear listening to the sounds of the ocean through a sea shell. Her eyes are haunting in a shade of green. There are palm trees and the ocean in the background.

For the lining I chose a high quality cotton batik with colors that accentuate the reds and greens in the painting.

The exterior has one rear pocket lined with the cotton batik. It is accented with matching custom piping.

The interior has two pockets accented with custom piping.

This bag closes with an antique gold colored magnetic snap.

The handles are bamboo, attached to the bag with dark red silk loops.

The size of this bag is 10" tall x 6" wide.

Hiapo was born on December 27 making her a Capricorn. The Capricorn personality is one that is firmly grounded in reality and who will consistently be the voice of reason in a chaotic world. Who wouldn't want a friend like that?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Warning about Sasaki Bags

I got an email from one of my customers this week. She told me that she thinks I should warn all my potential customers about a phenomenom surrounding my bags. Here is what she said:

"I was telling you that my 'sassy little bag' is a flirt! I had her in the grocery store with me the other day, and a handsome, older gentleman standing near me said, "Bet you wish you were there, don't you?" I looked around to see if he was talking to someone else before saying, "Excuse me?" "That place on your bag, Kona, Hawaii.. bet you wish you were there, don't you?" It was 20 below that day! So, Barb, be sure to fore-warn potential buyers of this tarty little bag.. She's likely to attract attention!

So, you have all been warned! If you don't want handsome men starting up conversations with you, if you don't want any attention regarding your fabulous sense of fashion, then please do not buy my bags!

But for the shameless, flirty, fashionistas out there....I am headed back to my sweat shop!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stop by Borders

Stephanie Bolton ( will be featured at the Kona Borders for the rest of December. She will be displaying the bag that she painted and I made as part of her display. If you are in Kona, stop by Borders bookstore and check it out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The comfort of rituals

As you know, I live in Hawaii. But the things that I love about this place that I call home are not what you may expect. Yes, the weather is great almost every day. And who doesn't love the beach? Those may be elements that GET people to Hawaii....but most of them leave. Today I had a reminder of what has kept me calling this rock home for over 14 years. It is the people and the culture.

If you read my blog yesterday, you know that one of my former coworkers/customers was killed last week in a car wreck. I was told that she was only 24. She had red hair and pure white flawless skin. Her name was Janelle Morse and she has a little girl named Lucy who is 4 years old. When I was contacting her regarding what kind of purse she wanted me to make for her she told me that she didn't really have any hobbies but she loved cooking and organic food. She said she was often mistaken for a tourist because she was so "white"! I didn't know her well, but was deeply saddened by her death.

Today at her workplace they held a small memorial for her coworkers who wouldn't be able to attend the services in Kohala this afternoon. We all arrived at the beach and formed a tight circle so we could hear the Kahu (minister) above the lapping waves. We all just stood there on the beach and listened to the ocean as time passed. Peace...The waves coming and receding. He reminded us that with each wave there is new water that comes in and touches the shore. Every wave changes the earth that it touches if only in a small way. Oh sure there are days that big powerful waves can change the whole landscape...and we have perhaps met people like that....but Janelle was like that gentle carressing wave that came on shore but for a moment and was gone....but what she touched will forever be different because of her. I hold onto that thought.

Then we all joined hands and became one with each our own strength to the circle and letting go of our own sorrow. Following a prayer, everyone took an orchid or two from a basket and walked down to the water, said our own private words and tossed the flower into the waves. While we were doing that Nattie Whitlock sang "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"...the slow Bradduh IZ version. Then the Kahu lead us all in singing Aloha Oe....which the only words of that song I actually know are "Aloha Oe....Aloha Oe....until we meet again".

There are times like this that those simple rituals offer comfort and I feel blessed to have met her and to live here where we shared so much today on a small sandy Hawaii.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Life is Fragile...

I just had a harsh reminder today of how fragile life can be.

About 3 weeks ago a girl I had once worked with, very briefly, emailed me. She had seen my bags and was hoping I had time before Christmas to make a custom coffee bag for her mom. I emailed her photos of different lining fabrics and we talked back and forth. She also wanted to order a bag for herself but said there was no rush on that one. We decided we would get together after the holidays and design a special bag for her. I finished the bag for her mom a couple of weeks ago but we weren't able to connect until last Thursday. I took the bag into the Four Season's Hotel, where she worked and she loved it. She was so excited to be able to have it to give to her mom.

Today, I found out that Janelle, the beautiful young mom, was killed in a car wreck the following day. The bag I made was still under her desk. She lived with her mom and didn't want to take it home yet, I guess. I want her mom to know how much thought she put into that gift. All the emails back and forth. It wasn't just something she bought on sale!

I am a believer that people come into your life for "a reason, a season or a lifetime". Sometimes we never know the reasons, but today, I think I might...

Hug your kids tonight. Tell those you love that you do. Life is fragile.
Janelle, you will be missed, honey.

Disney Crochet Tote Bag

I had to take a break from making all my customer orders and work on some things for my own family. I don't think my sister in law ever reads my blog so this should be safe (I hope). She loves pink, and she loves Disney characters, she is into crocheting...and she is Japanese SO...I created a large pink bag with Daisey Duck and Minnie Mouse machine embroideries, added some beautiful bright asian print fabric and then stuffed it with some yarn and crochet accessories. I really love this bag. It took me all day just because I made it without a pattern...sort of made it up as I went. I knew how I wanted it to look but had to nip and tuck here and there to achieve the final product. I hope she likes it.

AND... just for any "licensing infringement" police out there, I never use Disney or other licensed embroidery designs on items that I make to sell! This will be given as a gift!

I really should make some notes about how I made this bag so that I don't have to reinvent it the next time I want to make a bag like this. It has 11 pockets and a magnetic snap closure.

Back to the sweat shop
a hui hou

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Handpainted Eco-Friendly Sasaki Bag

I am so excited! A couple of months ago I first spoke to a very talented young artist (Stephanie Bolton) regarding doing a collaboration. For months, I have had this dream of introducing a line of handpainted original "wearable" works of art. Those who follow my blog know I have made some bags by taking my rotary cutter to finished art pieces, but I really wanted something that I could request specifically from an artist I knew. Today I finished our first joint effort. This bag was a custom order but is a preview of what is to come in 2009. I will be keeping these bags very "one of a kind" and rare so we will be only creating a small quantity of collectible handbags. There will be smaller sizes as well featuring a polynesian style of artwork by Stephanie.

This painting is absolutely beautiful! It features a voluptuous island woman lying on a lauhala mat, leisurely stringing a plumeria lei. There is a lavish spread of local fruits nearby including pineapple and papaya. There is a seawall in the back drop with coconut palms nestling against it. The deep blue of the ocean and the sky remind me that it is about time I go to the beach again...soon!

This bag was sewn onto an eco-friendly, recycled Kona coffee burlap bag and lined with a cheery red and white aloha print cotton fabric, according to the customer's specifications.

Keep an eye out for more of these wonderful bags.
a hui hou

Monday, December 8, 2008

A touch of whimsy

Okay, more than a touch of whimsy. This bag is just a crack up! I have been wanting to make it for months....fabric sitting on the shelf, calling my name...You know what I am talking about!

This bag is not for the shy, wallflowers out there. This one shouts from across the street, "Hey, look at me! Do I tickle you?"

It is my Kealakekua style of bag but I lined the entire exterior with fleece for structural support and to give it a "store bought" appearance. It made a lot more work for myself but was worth it when seeing the final product. I really dislike flimsy bags!

I still have projects I should be working on ....but needed this little break from burlap for some comic relief.

Now back to the sweat shop!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Art Zoo

I just received notice that my seed sack is being featured on "The Art Zoo". Here is the link for my adoring fans (tee hee).

Check out their site.

Monday, December 1, 2008

No Wonder!

No wonder that my shop has been so busy! I am being featured in the Etsy Gift Guide for Eco Friendly Gifts. See this link:

How exciting!

A new Market Tote!

The day after Thanksgiving, hubby and I drove over to Volcano to see some dear friends and their new home. What a beautiful spot they have. It oozes tranquility! On the way home we stopped by the Hilo Coffee Mill and I bought some of their bags and told them what I had planned for them. So here is the first one....I have a different Hilo bag in the works that I should be finishing up right now!

The other bags are doing extremely well. Today the Buddha's Cup bag sold! That didn't take long! It is only December 1st and I have had two Etsy sales! Yippee! I have a shop goal of 100 sales by Christmas...only 9 to go. As a promotional, I am offering a free tissue tote to the next 8 customers....the 9th will get one of my beautiful purse hooks (up to $20 value!)

Who will be my 100th customer???? Maybe YOU!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gobble Gobble!

Okay, who ate too much today??? Hubby and I went to his sister's house for Thanksgiving dinner. She always puts on quite a spread. There were about 20 of us this year. Thanksgiving in Hawaii is quite a different menu than what folks on the mainland eat. Oh sure, we had Turkey, Ham, mashed potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie. But a traditional Thanksgiving appetizer (pupu) in my husband's family consists of sushi, fresh catch sashimi, edemame (soy beans), shrimp cocktail, and ogo poke (chunks of fresh raw fish with onions, seaweed, and a chef's choice of ingredients.

We came home and both took naps! But don't go thinking that I took the day off! I have no time for that! I finished up one bag that was on my order list and made two bags out of a couple of new coffee bags that I recently got permission to sew with for my etsy store. One of them is "Buddha's Cup" coffee. On one side it says "for the enlightened bean in all of us" and it has a cute Chubby smiling Buddha on the other side.

The other bag was made with Country Samurai's bag. I really like their bag too. One side says "Kona Peaberry" which is the primo type of coffee. The other side has Japanese writing that I assume says, "Country Samurai". I will have to ask Sharlene Kunitake, the owner.

So I am just trying to juggle and balance all this bag making. I sent off 31 bags to Kauai this week, made 12 xmas stockings for Kona Mountain Coffee's retail store, sold 7 bags out of my etsy store and keep plugging away at the orders that I have to finish before Christmas.

Back to the Sweat Shop!
a hui hou

Thursday, November 20, 2008

just checking in...

The Kona Coffee Festival has come and gone. We had a very successful day at Hale Halewai. Met some great people and had good sales inspite of the economy and there being less foot traffic than in previous years. I took several custom orders that I will be working feverishly to complete before Christmas.

A wonderful gal named Janet Lipps purchased seven of my silk diva bags and she will be selling them in her gallery that she is taking over from Sunny Pauole. The gallery is in the artsy little town of Holualoa. I am grateful to have another venue so that people can see the beautiful silk bags up close and personal.

I have been sewing so much that I haven't had very much time to take photos or post new items. I hope to get caught up on all my orders SOON! So if you are waiting for your bag, thank you for being patient with me!

For now, I need to catch a few Z's so I can get up and do this all over again! Ever see the movie "Ground Hog Day"?

Aloha and good night.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A New Diva - Maeva

Gee, it has been a really long time since I brought a new Diva into the world! I think the last one was...May or June! But today I took a break from burlap and decided I could not keep my hands off of the new silk that arrived this week. So today, November 13, 2008, help me welcome Maeva!

The fabric I used to create Maeva, is a gorgeous irridescent kelly green silk. Infact that is why I decided on an Irish name for her. Maeva (May-vuh) is an old Irish name meaning "enchanting one". And it won't take more than one look to become enchanted with this gal!

She has one exterior pocket on her backside that is accented with custom piping. When she turns around you get the full picture of her beauty. There are 3 layers of pleats that are topped off with two gold tone metal buttons that look like french knots. The pleated panel lays over a gathering of peacock flue (the hairy part of the peacock feather). These feathers just do not photograph well to do them justice. There are so many colors of irridescence including copper, green, gold, black, and blue. I adore them!

For Maeva's lining I used a colorful paisley cotton in shaded of green. Her two interior pockets are accented with custom green silk piping and self lined with the paisley print.

I made her handles a bit longer than on some of my wristlets, but she is still a wristlet, not a shoulder bag!

Maeva is a Scorpio and true to her sign, she is passionate and bold. Determination and will power are two of her strongest traits. When you want to accomplish big things, have Maeva by your side!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Paddler's Autograph Bag

A friend of mine is going to the Cook Islands to participate in some paddling races. She paddles for Kai O Pua but will be racing under the "Live Strong" as in Lance Armstrong, team on this trip. She saw my Ironman bag and wanted one to take with her on this trip to have all the other paddlers sign as a memory! I found a nice fabric with paddles and palm trees to line the bag with. Then I machine embroidered a single paddle on the front pocket. The back has the snap swivel hook that she can attach the sharpie pens to if she wants. She wanted both exterior pockets to be undivided so I installed magnetic snap closures on both as well as in the lining to close the rest of the bag. Tia, have a great trip!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Little Miss Kona Coffee Pageant

So, yesterday I was finally able to buckle down and get some serious sewing done. Atleast, that was the plan because I have 82 bags on order right now with Kauai Coffee, the Coffee Festival and Xmas orders. Plus I am trying to keep some bags in the Kona Mountain Coffee Store here too! I started my morning by prepping several bag parts. I don't have a serger so I zigzag around each burlap piece before I sew it into some of my bags. That is kind of nice "no brainer" work but it is time consuming. I love it when I don't have to think too hard! But while I was doing that, the director of the Little Miss Kona Coffee Pageant called. She had seen my bags down at Kona Mountain and wondered if I would be willing to donate to the girls this year. They have 5 different age group categories. So I made 5 different bags that hopefully the girls will like. I even made a little bag for the 4-6 year old age group! Thank you to Mary at Kona Mountain Coffee for letting me use their coffee bags to make the Sasaki Bags out of!

The Coffee Festival is just around the corner. In fact, it is only 3 weeks from tomorrow! Yikes!

I am trying so hard to get everything done so that I can be organized with my booth. I still have to sew some table covers and embroider a new sign for "Sasaki Bags". I have Hypertufa instructions to print (see
Business cards to make...oh my other job is busy right now so I also have to punch a time clock and do some physical labor! I really need a 36 hour day...can anybody help me out???

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ironman 30th Anniversary

Can we talk for a moment about what inspires you? No, wait...let's talk about what inspires ME! This is MY Blog after all! I started watching the Ironman triathalon competition back in 1982. I was sitting in my mom's living room watching TV on a Sunday afternoon and caught Jim McKay's Wide World of Sports report on the Ironman broadcast from Hawaii! I watched as Julie Moss who had been in the lead at the end, crumble into a pile of knees and elbows. I saw that she had indeed "hit the wall" and that even her bowels had given up but the strength of her will and mind kicked in even when her body was failing. I felt tears as she was crawling the last few feet of the race and another runner came up from behind and passed her. Funny, the name of that gal escapes me....but I remember Julie Moss! Now some people saw this same event and spout off about how foolish it is to put your body through such an ordeal. Only crazies would try it! But me....I was inspired. It was memories of that race that later inspired me to sign up for and run the Honolulu Marathon. That is a whole other story, for another day, but today I just want to share some of the memories of yesterday's Ironman.

I worked the night before so didn't wake up as early as I had wanted to. But I got up and hit the sewing machine to start on my Ironman Finisher's Autograph Bag. I chose some athletic themed fabrics for the lining. One has bicyclists, the other for the large pocket and gusset is runners and wheelchair racers, and the third is a print with "26.2", running shoes, and stop watches" on it. The exterior is of course the blank canvas and I accented it with red piping and a red strap. I signed it in red sharpie ink and made sure that I didn't take a red pen with me for the athletes to use! So even with all the signatures/autographs, SASAKI stands out!

I went to town just about the time the finisher was coming into town. The press helicopters were hovering just over head as I made my way to Alii Drive. The town was "a-buzz". I chatted with a sweet gal named Pam for a bit as we cheered on the sidelines.

The eventual winner had a nice lead as he passed me by. I could tell you who the winners were, but you could read that on any sports page, and besides, for me, this race isn't about "the winners". It is about anyone who finishes. It isn't about time....just finish the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run in 17 hours! Piece of cake? Hardly! Infact last night the crowds were cheering the last 14 runners with only 30 minutes to go until cut off. All but one made it. The last one was a 60-something year old named Ida. She was cheered in 3 minutes after the cut off....Sorry Ida, no t-shirt! But you still are an I-R-O-N-M-A-N! And you inspire me.

But I am not talking about being inspired to "DO" Ironman. I don't think I ever will do that. These people inspire me to push myself further, to know that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. Last night I saw a 77 year old man RUN across the finish line even before the 18 year old girl who had the energy to SPRINT across at the end!

Ironman is also about the great people I meet. It is my chance to share a little ALOHA with these visitors. I love to pick a spot on the race course that has few volunteers to cheer the racers on. Tell them how strong they look, how they are almost there and to welcome them back into Kona after a long day. I remember those words of encouragement that I received when running in Honolulu....the faces I don't remember, but the words gave me the strength that I hope I passed on last night.

I took my "signature/autograph" bag to town with me and got hundreds of signatures. There were finishers who signed my bag who were from Monaco, Switzerland, Phillipines, Slovania, Australia, Austria, Korea, Japan, Belgium, South Africa, Canada, France, Northern Ireland, and of course USA! No one denied my request. And most seemed pleased and a bit surprised to be asked for their autograph. Several had their friends take their photo while they were "autographing" my bag!

Shortly after I had arrived near the bike to run transition area, I saw a small group with "Team Turner" or something similar on their shirts. Being a "Turner" (my maiden name)I had to go say "hi" and find out who they were rooting for. A proud father was watching for his son, Hart Turner to come down Palani. Also on Team Turner was Dorothy, a beautiful girl who I wish I could have chatted longer with.

Dorothy, if you read this, keep looking forward, girl. Believe that everything happens for a reason and don't try to second guess your choices. Trust yourself!
I was happy that on my way home last night I ran into Team Turner and was able to have Hart Turner sign the finisher's bag too!

So much of what we accomplish in life is because someone inspired us. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be someone's inspiration? You just may be and you don't even know it! Hey, Julie Moss, have you ever heard of Barb Sasaki? I would love to make you a handbag someday!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Potato Bags

I just finished and mailed off my first big order to Idaho. One of the potato companies I contacted regarding my "Haute Potato" bag ordered 16 bags to take to their trade show coming up later this month in Florida. I made 11 shoulder bags and 5 grocery totes. I have now made over 500 bags for the year! Somedays I feel like I could actually sew in my sleep! At times I almost do. For this order I was so worried that I wouldn't finish it in time to account for the occassional Postal delays so I would get up at 4 or 5 am some mornings to sew a few hours before Earl would awake. And of course sew until bedtime.

You can't tell from the photo but I used some great fabrics for the linings of the shoulder bags. I mixed polka dots of different sizes and introduced some bright prints that kept in line with the companies "red, black and gold" theme.

I had some other bags arrive today. Angela D., I can start on your bag soon! I have started taking orders already for the holidays. Looking forward to a busy season. Sew, Sew, Sew!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A New Signature Bag

I have a customer who is a travel agent. Her secretary is leaving so she ordered one of my signature bags to have all the girls in the office sign as a memorable send off. Had I had more time, I could have special ordered some fun themed fabrics, but I couldn't risk ordering something from the mainland and missing my deadline. So I decided on this beautiful Amy Butler print to line the bag with.

I added to the whole "travel agency" idea by making her a tissue tote out of a Rand McNally map. And to go one step further, I got a map of the location of the travel agency, laminated it and sewed it to a key fob. A heart shaped split ring was attached and I hung it from the decorative swivel hook along with the sharpies for signing! I thought it would be a fun little addition and it will remind this gal that she can always find her way back "home".

I am a busy girl these days with no let up in sight! But I am loving it and doing what I enjoy. What more can a girl ask for?

Monday, September 29, 2008

More Signature Bag Photos

Here is what the "Signature Bag" looks like before YOU embellish it!

Shhh! Its a Surprise!

Okay, I have told my sister NOT to look at my blog for awhile because I am posting photos of my "Signature Bag". You see, every designer must have a "signature bag" but me...with my warped sense of humor decided to make it a play on words. I actually sign my signature bag and invite everyone else to as well by including a set of mini sharpies!

My sis is taking a "trip of her lifetime" soon for a "significant" birthday. I have made this bag especially for her so that she can take along the well wishes of her friends and family to Greece with her. And while there, I hope she collects signatures of all the amazing people she will undoubtedly attract. Adore your cab driver? Ask him to sign the bag. Love your cruise director? "oh please, may I have your autograph?" Was your waiter charming? You get the idea! I have started my sis off by writing some of her favorite quotes along the gusset of this bag. Then I shipped it off and had several family members sign it as well. For her bag I lined it with a Scorpion fabric because she is a Scorpio. For your bag, let me pick a fabric lining that will tell the world a little about you. Are you a secretary? Maybe the "post it note" fabric would be fun! Love to travel? Have a unique hobby? I love a challenge!

Who else would love this bag? It could be a "Birthday Bag", a "Bon Voyage Bag", a bag for a woman going through chemo or a divorce....guaranteed to bring a smile to her face everytime she reads the positive affirmations you will write on it. This bag makes a wonderful going away gift...why not have everyone in the office sign it?! Know a graduate? Forget the yearbook signing! Have your friends sign your handbag that you can carry with you for years!

This bag is also a blank canvas for the artists amongst us. It can be your very own "doodle bag" to show off your own works of art.

I just love this bag because it is fun and will start conversations with people. I hope you do too!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sun Glo Potatoes

Betty from Sun Glo Potatoes mailed me a box of potato sacks to work with. I got it yesterday and finished a couple of bags to send off to her. I really like the lining. Betty, I hope you do too!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kauai Coffee Order...ready to ship!

This morning I finished the last of 30 bags to ship out to Kauai. Business is booming on the Garden Isle! I love working with their bags. They have such a variety and they are very colorful. Here is a sample of what I am shipping out to them on Monday!

Monday, September 8, 2008

A new market tote

This bag will be your answer to "paper or plastic?"! It is a large tote designed to conveniently carry your groceries home in. It measures 10" x 12" and is 8 " tall. Much like the size of the hand-carry baskets available in most grocery stores.

The handles are brown cotton webbing and are approximately 22" long.

The exterior is a recycled burlap lentil bag.
The front says, "Easy Cooking Lentils.
The back says, "Rumba brand"
On the bottom it says, "(S)pokane Seed Com(pany)

The interior is an Amy Butler cotton print. It has vibrant colors including orange, fushia, chartreuse, blues and brown. It nicely compliments the red and orange print on the outside of the bag.

There is a 10" x 12" removable board on the bottom of the bag for support to carry your heaviest groceries.

This bag folds flat for storage.