This Christmas, I wanted to give something super beautiful and super useful to the special women in my life. Enter stage left: the tote bag. Enter stage right: Weeks of beading!
It was of utmost importance to me that each tote reflect the woman it was going to. I wanted each of them to WANT to use the thing, after all!
Read on for brief descriptions of why each bag is special to its unique recipient, or just scan for some detail images ;)
My cousin Diana is so badass. She's smart, hilarious, and the most fabulous fashion plate in the family – and she's got some stiff competition! Diana loves animals and is a fierce hoola hoop master. She once defeated me HANDILY in a hula hoop endurance contest that lasted over 10 minutes. She's fun, bright, and loves a hefty dose of sparkle. Needless to say, this was a really fun one for me to embellish!
Katherine is my sister. Katherine loves orange. Katherine inspires me to be better than I am. Katherine is just now starting her last semester of college, and is (in my opinion) in desperate need of some fantasy and whimsy in her day-to-day. I spent by far the most time on Katherine's tote. I got so swept away in the form the flowers were taking as I added them, and I found myself making these symmetrical shapes and patterns with the beads in some of the bigger flowers that were really turning me on. Up until I started to do that here, my beading had been largely random or intuitive. But with this project, I started getting into creating these more controlled and predetermined forms with the beads, even as the shape or pattern of the flowers themselves grew more scattered and organic. Must have been Katherine's analytical/mathematic/scientifically stupendous influence. See? She makes me better than I am even when she's not around.
Sarah is my best friend. We are The Sarahs! I don't even know how to write about our relationship in a way that other people could understand without rambling on and getting excitable and using WAY too many exclamation points, so I'll just skip ahead to the designy bits. Sarah strikes just the right note of young & free and adult & sophisticated in her style. She can look like she's going to close the big deal and jump on a table and start dancing, simultaneously. I'd follow her lead in either instance. I chose red for her because it's a color I feel gives her a lot of power, and would match other things she already has. Sarah, I love you!
My Gramma Ruth is ALSO so badass. I'm of the opinion that my family is blessed with so many awesome, powerful women largely due to her. Can't get into how much she's taught and given me over the years. A LOT, YOU GUYS. When I was around 5 years old, I asked her what her favorite color was. She answered, "Pink and green." My mind was blown. I didn't know you were ALLOWED to have TWO favorite colors! I asked her why those two, and she said because they look so pretty and alive together, that they bring out the best in each other. ((IMPORTANT AND SEEMINGLY OBVIOUS LESSONS FOR YOUNG ARTISTS: Color combinations matter!)) So some of her flowers HAD to have green in them. Funnily enough, she was wearing a sweater in this same shade of magenta on Christmas Day. Kismet!
My boyfriend's mother, Penny, is another SUPREMELY fashionable woman. I've never seen her look anything less than impeccable. She's worked in fashion and retail for years, and her wardrobe castoffs make my heart stop. I knew any sartorial offering I made to her would have to earn its place in her closet! I took my cues from an outfit she wore a few months back when we went on a double date to see "Hard Day's Night." Layer upon layer of floaty creams and off-whites, unobtrusive but decidedly stylish. It's so fun to work in one limited color palette, because the interest comes from layering on textures and subtle variations, like silver, clear, and crystal beads on cream, white, and glitter-dipped flowers. Yum!!
And last but not least, my mom's. At this point, do I even need to say how badass and fashionable the women in my life are? I do? Well hot DAMN is Margo, my mom, badass and fashionable. She's incredibly hardworking, creative and caring, with a knack for finding and appreciating beauty in a way that I think would make a lot of people a lot more happy if they had it. She's got an eye on her, that one! And she LOVES green, and she LOVES leaves. Badda bing! I laid out the pattern for her tote differently from any of the others, because I wanted it to have the feel of an old botanical illustration. I wanted it to feel like something she'd put on the wall, if it weren't over her shoulder.
I had so much fun making every one of these bags, and I hope their recipients get as much joy out of using them!
Happy belated holidays to all!