Sunday, January 07, 2007

Andean Flowers & Froo-Froo Purses

I love to be crafty (in case anyone does not know). I especially love to be crafty when it comes to Christmas and I don't have abundant financial resources. Here are the stories behind my two latest creative projects.


The inspiration for this watercolor painting came back in 2001 when I went to visit a national park in Merida, Venezuela. My friend Kristi took a photo of some flowers that became a part of a watercolor series that I was dreaming up. The theme of my series was something I sensed God was saying: "I have not abandoned you"... It was composed of things that I found in Venezuela that seemed forgotten/abandoned but were beautiful and something I treasured. The first painting that I finished several years ago was a pair of old brown boots. I worked and worked and worked on that painting. It felt like the sort of painting that would never be finished but thankfully I said "enough!" and called it done. My second painting was of the flowers that grew up on the side of the mountain. Beautiful bright flowers that grew in the mist and amongst the scraggley and strange terrain in the high altitude of the Andes mountains. (I started it a year or two ago). The final painting of the series will be of a young boy that I met at an orphanage in Venezuela.

Finishing the Andean flower painting didn't come easy. I'm sure it had a lot to do with how out of practice I am with painting but I was determined to finish it. I did not put the unfinished painting in storage with the rest of my things because I just couldn't bear to put it away for 3 years without being finished. Little did I know how much time I really would have! :0) My motivation for finishing this painting was to use it as a thank-you gift for my mission support team and also as Christmas gifts! It feels wonderful to have it finished.

Here's my dad posing with his copy of the painting!


I owe the purse project to a particular crafting project of 2005, the Walmart clearance section and my friend Macie from church. My pal Zoe and I once decided to decorate purses for a craft project. We bought canvas purse bodies and then got trim & handles for decoration. Zoe painted the body of her purse and I sewed trim and silk flowers on mine. It was a ton of fun and my purse was a particularly girlie creation that has received many compliments. I often remembered fondly how fun it was to make them. I didn't really see those purse bodies anywhere after that except in one particular Walmart clearance section. I would pass them, look at them and say: "oh, that was such a fun project." Another background note is that this summer I purchased an embroider-yourself purse kit at JoAnn fabric and discovered how easy embroidering was.

My friend Macie wrote me a little note this fall that went like this:
Thank you for every thing you do!
I hope you have a great time in Peru
We all will miss you!
Your hats, purses and your great personality
You did Kid Stuf and did karaoke.
We will treasure everything you do!

Hmmm... purses...hmmm... The mention of the purses got me thinking and I realized that purses were the solution to my need for a gift that could be creative and inexpensive! There were 8 purse bodies available in the clearance craft section at Walmart. I bought them all, along with trim and embroidery thread and d-rings (for handles). My biggest dilemma was figuring out how to make handles that I didn't have pay $5.00 for. I bought material and filler cord and hoped that I could figure out how to make handles! I sewed everything by hand and I had to figure out how to sew the handles and turn them inside out. I felt so victorious when I discovered the usefulness of a safety pin in doing this! Phew!

In the end, I made 8 purses. Some had buttons and trim and some were embroidered. The hardest thing that I embroidered was a asian looking bird on a branch. I had so much fun coming up with designs but unfortunately the purses took me way longer than I imagined (surprise! surprise!). At least 5 of them went to my old Stillwaters roomies and I had a moment of panic the day that I was finishing them up (of course up to the last minute!). I didn't have enough d-rings for the handles and not enough time to go out, get more and be finished! So, I broke down and bought some handles. Unfortunately, one set didn't match the purse it was intended for. Frantically, I sewed a pair of handles in less than 10 minutes!! Phew... again one of my projects is more work than I intended. :0) After all that, I found the missing d-rings upstairs in another bag. Silly me! My fingers were sore after all that embroidering and I didn't want to see another purse for a while. All in all, it was a fun and successful project!

Here are pictures of some of my purses:

It was tons of fun making the middles of these flowers with bits of ribbon!

Here are the lovely Stillwaters ladies with their purses!

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