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!