Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Resurrection of a vintage purse accessory

purse hooks
A fascinating article appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune recently about a local man who has refashioned the purse hook--an item once popular in the 1940's (according to the article, though the site itself says the 1950's).
It is designed to hold a woman's purse off the ground (it hooks over a table edge, so you can hold up to 35 pounds of shopping bags, your purse, your sunglasses, etc).
Read the article here.

You can purchase Rich Shamlian's handmade hooks through PurseHook.net

Labels: , ,

Dangling charms

Amulet bags are the perfect vehicle for excess embellishment with charms, talismans, beads, etc.

Here is a lovely example of beading detail on a treasure bag from Unstrung Sisters (etsy)

For centuries, amulet bags have been made in African nations, for Native American practices, and have been used by Wiccans and pagans.

Often the bags are intricately stitched and beaded and/or constructed from leather, with elaborate designs and adornment. These are small bags, usually hung like necklaces from a cord or thong around the neck to carry sacred objects. The exterior charms often act as protective influence, but the bag itself usually contains additional protection inside in the form of crystals, feathers, herbs, etc.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another necktie project

One of my favorite bloggers is Saltygal, aka
Confessions of an Attention Deficit Crafter.

She's always coming up with creative ideas, including these adorable Ipod cozies made from recycled neckties!

This small button-over style might work as an amulet bag also.
Something to consider anyway.

Visit her etsy shop

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Choose a creative source.

One of my hopes in creating these challenges, is that you will consider attempting and exploring new technigues, materials, and concepts.

If you usually work with fabric, perhaps attempt embroidery, or wire, or felting.
If you knit, maybe try sewing, or beading, or paper collage.

Or, if you're really adventurous, how about basket weaving?
Any kind of weaving?

Red Cedar Amulet Bag
Originally uploaded by confections

This gorgeous red cedar amulet bag was made by Mary Drobnis, member and officer of the San Diego Creative Weavers Guild.

The bag was made as part of a class taught by Lynne Everett,
a contemporary basket weaver and teacher from San Juan Capistrano
(the occasion was a conference of the ASCH: Association of Southern Californa Handweavers).
Photo used with permission, and thank you to Cheryl for her leg work.

Cheryl sent me a few photos of handwoven amulet bags showcased at a recent meeting of the San Diego Creative Weavers' Guild.
(click on images to enlarge)

Aren't these amazing?


Monday, August 13, 2007

amulets from kumano hongu taisha

amulets from kumano hongu taisha
Originally uploaded by ya ma
Three-legged birds are a sacred symbol of shrines throughout Asia.
Depending on the country, these birds are either crows or ravens.

They are said to be the messengers of God.

The three legs are said to symbolize heaven, earth and humankind. The bird is often said to inhabit and represent the sun.

Because of its excellent sense of direction, the crow is considered as a guide to unknown lands or a messenger for remote places.

These amulets depict the Japanese raven, Yatagarasu.
In the Japanese myths, when the Emperor Jimmu Tenno came up to Kumano and lost his way in a deep mountain there, Yatagarasu showed him the way.

(click on image for more information)

Note the interesting and decorative knotting also.

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Necktie Pouch

Amulet Pouch
Ah, this one is right up my alley!
Pouch fashioned from a recycled silk necktie.

Inspiration from Stitch and Sizzle Accessories: hot handbags, scarfs, wraps and accents by Creative Publishing International.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


(photo courtesy of Megumi--read more here.
Used with permission.)

According to Wikipedia (seriously, how did we survive without this site before?),
Omamori are:"Japanese amulets dedicated to particular Shinto deities as well as Buddhist figures."

"The amulet covering is usually made of cloth and encloses papers or pieces of wood with prayers written on them which are supposed to bring good luck to the bearer on particular occasions, tasks or ordeals. Omamori are also used to ward off bad luck and are often spotted on bags, hung on cellphone straps, in cars, etc. for safety in travel."

I think it's interesting that the powers are short-lived:
"It is said that omamori should never be opened or they lose their protective capacities. They are also only good for one year and after a year, they should be returned to the shrine or temple so they can be disposed of properly."

What does this mean for you?
Well, you could gather trinkets that represent your spiritual path, your goals and dreams, your intentions, etc and set them aside like a time capsule, or like the vision boards mentioned in The Secret.
In a year, or however long you deem appropriate, open this up and see how far you've come.

The time capsule idea might be fun for kids--they could describe their most precious dreams, etc, then you can open these up in five or ten years and it might be a wonderful keepsake for them.
Perhaps include small toys they cherish, pics of pets, snippets of information about what's going on in 2007.
Are we veering too far away from what an amulet is defined to be?
Again, you have decide what works for you.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, August 4, 2007

believe in something

believe in something
Originally uploaded by schuschu
As far as amulets go, this one takes my breath away.
This was designed by artist Daphne Wu.

She describes it as
"It's an amulet, belonging to an art installation, made from hair, amber, a nut and copper wire. The background is a wooden case, treated with mixed colors...the amulet symbolizes the power about my own life and concerns"

Click on the image to go to her Flickr page, and
read more about her art on her website.

Labels: ,

More inspiring ideas

venus bag
Originally uploaded by tamelyn
Beautifully beaded bag in peyote stitch by Tamelyn.
(click on the image to go to her flickr page and learn more about it.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 3, 2007

Spring Amulet Necklace

Spring Amulet Neckless
Originally uploaded by Sooticas Dream
Okay, an amulet is a token, charm, memento, or trinket.
It holds special power, meaning, or intention.

You can make a bag to place an amulet into, or
you can make the bag amulet-shaped.

Perhaps the bag will be decorated with amulets, and hold them within as well.

Let's get started with inspiration, shall we?

This is a crocheted flower necklace, complete with a little pocket (the leaf is hollow) for holding crystals or herbs.
Is it more jewelry than bag?
Well, you decide. I say it works for this idea.
Made by Catriona, aka Sooticas Dream (Flickr.com).

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 2, 2007

What, exactly, is an amulet bag?

Before we get started with ideas, tutorials, and patterns, let's deal with definitions.

Amulet bags are usually small pouches.

According to Wikipedia, an amulet can mean many things.
"...an object that protects a person from trouble"
or a talisman...consists of any object intended to bring good luck and/or protection to its owner.
Potential amulets include: gems or simple stones, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants, animals, etc.;
even words said in certain occasions—for example: vade retro satana—(Latin, "go back, Satan"), to repel evil or bad luck."

According to this site:
"Amulet bags are generally worn at HEART LEVEL. In ancient times they were used by Native tribes to carry herbs or things to ward off evil spirits. In other words, they were sometimes worn for protection. They were also used to carry precious mementos of loved ones, or prayers.

If you have a family member or friend who is going through a tough time you can put prayers in it for them. Every time you look at or touch the bag you will be reminded to send them love and prayers. Love is very powerful for healing the mind, body, or spirit.

Also, if you have small gifts that others have given you, you can put those in the bag. Gifts from family and friends are generally gifts of love, even if it's just a card or a tiny piece of the card. Gifts of love are thought to hold the energy of love for the recipient of the gift. So if you are feeling down or in need of love or just want to be reminded of the fullness of the love that already exists in your life put those special gifts from loved ones in your bag.

Today most people just wear them as jewelry, others sometimes put crystals in them.

Personally I like to fill mine with prayers of love, and peace."

Or, you could make a mojo.(wikipedia)
"Mojo...is a term commonly encountered in the African-American folk belief called hoodoo.
A mojo is a small bag, a type of magic charm, often of red flannel cloth and tied with a drawstring, containing botanical, zoological, and/or mineral curios, petition papers, and the like.
It is typically worn under clothing."

So....what does all this mean to you?
Maybe you can explore symbolism, or your culture, or be introspective spiritually.

Maybe you'd rather make a larger pouch.
You could make a bag to carry your bible, or one for an inspiration journal, runes, etc.
knitted tarot pouch tutorial by Knitting with Laura.

Or you could make this a cathartic statement.
You could make a bag in tribute to someone's (yours?) childhood,
or a memorial to a loved one who has passed away.

You could make some sort of inspirational bag to hang in your home or your car with motivational phrases inside.

Again, make it mean something to you.
Take your time and really give it some thought.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A new gallery, and a new theme

Well, I didn't complete my bag for my own frickin' challenge.
I considered postponing the gallery,
but that's really not fair to the rest of you.
I'll submit my bag late.

I'm a bit disappointed that so few people decided to make a beach bag.
I hope this is due to vacations away from your sewing machines, versus lack of interest in this blog.

Anyway, here's the current gallery of submissions.

And yes, there's also a new theme, due September 30.
Are you ready?

The next theme may make some of you uncomfortable.
Ah, that's where creativity is at its best.

The gallery posts October 1st, so in honor of that month's holiday, I've decided I would like you to make an amulet bag.

Now, stay with me here.
To those of you who may be religious, do not assume this is of the occult.
If magical or spiritual references disturb you, then steer in the direction of your own beliefs if you so desire.
As with all areas of life, take the parts that make sense...and go with it.

Perhaps make a bag for prayer requests, for family wishes, for goals and inspirations, for art projects....
The theme just needs to encompass some sort of token, be it an embroidered cross, to a pouch filled with herbs.

In other words, create a significance.
Or work around dreams, prayers, wishes, good fortunes....

I'd like to challenge your boundaries, and force (if you will) you to put some thought behind your creation.
If you're going to create art (and that is what sewing and crafting is), make it mean something.

Consider both if and how you're going to embellish the exterior, and what you will place within.

Here's a small knitted pouch by Mag Knits (tutorial here).

*Consider symbolism and folklore, and incorporate these into your design, such as a drawing of the life line on a palm, coins for wealth, etc
*include objects or talismans representing luck (rabbit's foot, four-leafed clover, horseshoe, etc),
*or traditional tokens of affection or luck (red roses, rose quartz, hearts, etc)
*Cultural symbols such as Chinese letter characters that represent luck, fortune, long life, health, or things like Maneki Neko.
*herbs and crystals and remedies (for health, etc)
*spells, wishes, prayers (in the form of objects, words, symbols)

Maybe try a new material or technique.
Ideas of how-to's:
*a pouch embellished with ribbons
*made from suede or leather
*made from metal or wrapped wire
*embroidered with a symbol of good fortune
*knitted or crocheted
*or a bag with objects under vinyl or organza
*or (hidden?) pockets with good luck trinkets
*purse with dangling charms or covered in milagros
*seashells, stones, crystals
*painted silk
*needle punch
*ribbon flowers
*hand-stitched wool felt

See what I mean?

Don't worry, I'll be posting lots of ideas to get you started,
so keep checking back.

Labels: , ,