Friday, January 29

Something from nothing!

In my work, I basically take something that is nothing, and turn it into well, for lack of any inspiration here- something. I use the cast offs.  You can see by the photo, none of it is new, or perfect. It is pitted, paint pealing, ready for the trash! Much of it was rescuded from burn piles. Yeah burn piles. Here in North Idaho we do that. When we aren’t sure what to do with stuff it gets burnt. Yeah, okay behind times, but they don’t call us bumpkins for no reason.

Cast-offs, scraps, something from nothing leads me to today’s featured artist and studio.


Artistan Elisa Jackson is taking bits and scraps and turning them into, as the shop name suggests beautiful work of art handbags. Elisa is based on the sunny Florida Coast. Walks on the beach are taken for granted and an occasional encounter with a gator are not surprising. You would think a coastal life style and gator encounters would call for an adventurous spirit. Not so with Elisa. When asked what one thing defines her I was surprised by the answer “POA. Plan Of Action. I am probably the least spontaneous person ever, but I do like to have fun and try new things. I just like to plan it.”

Perhaps this planned approach is what has enabled her to do so well both online and off. Elisa started with selling in brick and mortar shops early in 2008. It was one of those shops where she heard about the opportunity to sell on line. Wanting to grow her business it seemed the perfect way to have more control over inventory and everything else that goes with owning a store. Elisa is a very goal oriented person, it’s obvious by her precise well thought out answers. She definitely has her POA . Coming in 2010 is her Jamie weekender Bag and she is looking to not only expand globally but to begin wholesaling her items.

So how did she get her start?” My grandmother has an antique Singer sewing machine (yes, in the art deco cabinet) and since I was old enough to stand I was captured by it. When i was 4 she let me staple fabric scraps together as my first "sewing" project. When I was 6 she bought me a porcelain baby doll, and we made so many clothes together for the doll, which I still have. It's how I learned construction of clothing and how to stitch. After that, any time I spent there I would be sewing, never using patterns, but creating my own designs.” Elisa unique works are created from repurposed, upcycled and revived material. She digs through closets for clothing that isn’t being worn, uses vintage fabrics and notions. Even buttons and zippers are recycled into the stunning handbags and clutches. Amazed I sit looking at the photos, knowing it has all come from scraps. Her use of colors and textures are truly awe inspiring and take an ordinary handbag into something of a work of art. Carrying our perceptions of “art “even further.

In so many ways thoughts and concerns over the environment and our future are coming out. And true to form, thoughts inspire art. It comes then at no surprise the “buying handmade” revolution. I asked Elisa her thoughts on buying handmade “a) it's important not to let artistry and craft die with the times, b) buying local protects our economy and small business, c) it enhances and encourages individualism and non-perfection in an age of mass-production, conformism, and commercialism. (Straight from a mall shopper turned devout etsy buyer: "why do I want something that everyone else has when I can get an one of a kind original?"

Originality definitely speaks through Elisa’s work. And so does her dedication to great products. Elisa involves her family as testers and designers and uses her friend as a model for the photos. She has shipped items to her mother to test out different shipping methods. Every area of Tootsweet Handbags has been carefully thought out, planned and is ready for action.

Let’s give her some action and check out Tootsweet Handbags today.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for our new series Shopping Saturday. I have pulled together a few of my favorite things. I've had the creators tell me a bit about themselves and will post my favorite 10 with bios and all!
Happy Friday all!
The Bumpkin

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