Every year I try to sign up for Sanae and Ute’s fabulous Secret Valentine exchange. I have managed it for the last two years and that is a good thing because when the deadline slips past me I end up super bummed and kicking myself with regret. The reason I love it so much is mostly because it feels so warm and fuzzy to be a part of secret exchange of handmade goodness. But, I also love the exchange because it gives me permission and freedom to create something with no real agenda. Ah, the beauty of open-ended making! This year I decided to make this hand-stamped tote with leather handles and shipped it off to South Korea, it’s new home. Isn’t it great that the secret valentine exchange is global?! I like the thought of sending something made with my hands around the world. It reminds me that the power of the handmade is amazingly universal and these days that reminder feels especially potent.
In making this tote I got to dedicate time to two things that I really want to play with more….hand-stamping and leather! And hot pink. I’m kind of unleashing a serious love of hot pink right now. It’s like sweet old pink finds an edge.
Look! It fits a bushel of flowers just perfectly! Do flowers come in bushels? I’m not sure. No matter!
As for the hand-stamping, I just kind of played around with a hand-carved stamp I made at Craftcation last year in Lisa Solomon’s class. I already had my stamp carved but this is a great video on how to carve your own stamp from Gennine Zlatkis.
I ended up pairing these two panels with each other for the front and back of the tote. The fabric is actually an unbleached fabric scrap from a local futon shop. Zero waste!
The hand-stamping process is so much fun. If you have never done it, I really recommend it. Here is a (mildly tedious but very informative) video on how to do the printing. Hand-stamping is a fully immersive creative process. When I’m hand-stamping I find that time passes so quickly. I really had no plan or strategy for making my prints. I just stamped in a haphazard way until I liked it, to be honest. It was a lot of fun but I’m not sure if hand-printing experts would recommend the “no rhyme or reason” method of hand-stamping.
I spent a joyous day playing with inks and stamping. I love how messy my hands get, it was a week-long reminder of my day of printing.
I decided to add leather straps because, as I mentioned, I wanted to do more leather work but also because I like how leather looks with hot pink. It’s the perfect neutral. Don’t you think?
Here is to more play in the studio, ink in the fingernails, and another secret valentines exchange!
Also, I promise I am now done talking about Valentine’s day, which I realize was a month ago.