I've been enamored of the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos since I first learned about it in my high school Spanish class. I love the idea of laying out a spread of the favorite foods, flowers and music of a loved one who's passed on as a way of welcoming them for a visit from the other side. It's a much more healthy and uplifting view of death than we, as Americans, often have, and nothing represents the exuberant holiday better than the kaleidoscopic sugar skulls made as offerings to the dead.
Well, I racked my brain for the perfect design for the crafty Enid Collins handbag knockoff I told you I wanted to make a while back. I would love a bag with a peacock or bird design of some sort, and that pagoda purse is the epitome of class, but I wanted to start with something different, something that hadn't been done, something so colorful that it would readily lend itself to such a gaudy medium, something hard to mess up. I went to the thrift store and found a plain black purse for $1.48--not too pretty, but cheap, which is what you want when you're blazing new craft trails and might botch up the whole deal.
I took some gold acrylic paint, rick-rack, sequins, and a crapload of plastic rhinestones donated by my Mama, mixed it all up with a toxic dose of E 6000 glue, and I had myself a Day of the Dead Enid Collins-inspired bag.
I replaced the cheap, warped leatherette strap with a ready made curtain tieback, which was my second choice since the Lobby of Hobbies was clearance-ing their by-the-yard gold chain and wanted me to buy the whole roll. I guess it would have been a great deal if one required 17 yards of the stuff, but I only wanted a little. I'm not sure how much wear and tear the satiny curtain tieback will actually take, for that matter, I'm not sure how well the gems will stay put since the bag is slick vinyl and not as rigid as those canvas bucket types Enid used and those in the old kits. The purse has two sides--one smooth and one with imitation croc embossing. I chose to use the croc side since I hoped the glue would stick better to the rougher surface, and I figured the gaudier, the better for this one.
Despite its obvious flaws, this was one of the funnest craft projects I do believe I've ever undertaken, and no, it's not because of the E 6000 induced high. My only dilemma is how to recreate the "frames" that go around the jewels on the Collins bags and my butterfly bag. I searched high and low, in town and on the net, for anything similar, and the only thing I found was someone selling old stock Enid Collins jewels and their frames on EBay--very cool, but too rich for my blood. I ended up going with a gold fabric paint which I pressed some of the gems into, causing a ridge to form around the jewel. It reminds me a little too much of those awful 80's sweatshirts that way, though. I'm really not out to copy Enid's bags (I wish I was that talented), or even the copycat DIY ones they inspired, only to pay tribute to them, so I don't necessarily have to have all the same elements, but those frames look awfully sharp. Hobby Lobby also doesn't carry the large teardrop shaped gems I really need, so I'll have to find an online source for those, I guess. I'm not too worried about the strap durability issue since this was just my prototype purse. If it falls apart, oh well. I'll just make another one. I see a whole lot more of these in my future, in tons of different designs, maybe even a business opportunity...