Tips & How To

The following links are from past posts that detail how I created my memorial purse for my grandmother and some inspiration posts to help you get started. Remember, the sky is the limit with creativity, so don’t be limited to my suggestions. Any style or technique is welcome! Try something new and make your purse truly unique and fitting to your beloved female lost to cancer.

The steps I took in creating the purse in memory of my grandmother: https://thepursesproject.wordpress.com/category/making-an-altered-purse-for-the-purses-project/

A short writing activity to prompt memories: https://thepursesproject.wordpress.com/category/making-an-altered-purse-for-the-purses-project/

Preparing a purse for paint: https://thepursesproject.wordpress.com/category/making-an-altered-purse-for-the-purses-project/

How to begin a purse for the project: https://thepursesproject.wordpress.com/category/getting-started-on-a-purse/

How I added my grandmother’s name to the purse with hand-stitching: https://thepursesproject.wordpress.com/category/adding-her-name-how-to-a-clumsy-attempt-at-sewing/

How to add personal objects to the purse: https://thepursesproject.wordpress.com/category/adding-personal-objects-to-the-purse/

Where to find a purse: https://thepursesproject.wordpress.com/category/where-do-i-find-a-purse/

Inspiration for adding lettering to the purse: https://thepursesproject.wordpress.com/category/inspiring-lettering-adding-her-name-to-the-purse/

How to do a Citrasolv transfer with lettering: https://thepursesproject.wordpress.com/category/how-to-transfer-images-or-lettering-with-citrasolv/

For more inspirational purses and helpful techniques, connect to The Purses Project on Pinterest (click the Pinterest button to the top right side of this page)

If you have any questions, please click on the About Me/Contact Me link on my homepage. I will happily answer any questions.

Where Artists Get Inspiration: The Spark for The Purses Project

In my very first blog post I wrote about my wonderful grandmother and her untimely death to cancer as the inspiration for The Purses Project. Artists are inspired by so many things from the things we see to the experiences we go through or the injustice we notice. I’ve compared “inspiration” for artwork coming as a spark and (for me at least) it’s like a movie about painting starts playing in my head but with no sound only colors, forms, lines, etc. Ultimately, most artists are using color, line and form to SAY something of importance about the world they live in. Even if it’s just a quiet reminder to “notice”.

The Prince of Flowers ,Painting by Jamie Howell

The Prince of Flowers, Painting by Jamie Howell


I notice lots of things, especially the little unimportant things. I love to notice things in nature like dandelions or the metallic shell of a June bug. Not from a distance mind you, but very close up. I have always loved being in nature since my childhood in Tennessee.
detail of painting by Jamie Howell

detail of painting by Jamie Howell


A reminder to look up and “notice” people began with my graduate thesis and a field trip.
As part of our Art & Community class, our professor proposed a field trip to The Names Project in Atlanta. The Names Project is also commonly known as the Aids Memorial Quilt. I was not excited about trekking through downtown Atlanta traffic, but this field trip impacted me and was a creative spark for The Purses Project. The quilt is a monumental artwork that honors the significance of each person’s life lost to AIDS and the beautifully creative ways people heal from loss and grief. At the end of our tour, regardless of our different views or backgrounds, my classmates and I left saddened, reflective and deeply moved by this exhibit.
a quilt panel of the Aids Memorial Quilt

a quilt panel of the Aids Memorial Quilt


As we moved to the back where the squares are stored and sewn, a reverent silence fell among the staggering view of shelves. The warehouse room was lined with shelf after shelf of quilt squares and deep storage containers-everywhere. Every open space of the tall shelves held hand-crafted quilt squares tightly stacked together and quietly waiting. Each quilt square waiting for a volunteer seamstress to sew various squares together into a 3×6 ft. quilt panel–and more squares will arrive almost daily to be added to these.
the aids quilt for notice blog post
aids quilt containers for notice blog post
As I stopped in front of a shelf, I realized each brightly colored fabric represented a life, not a statistic. As a mother, I knew that each square represented a child that a mother once held in her arms or someone’s grandchild or brother and so on. Each square is as uniquely different as the life is represents and sewn by family members or loved ones in a creative outpouring of love and grief. According to the http://www.aidsquilt.org, the colorful tapestry of 48,000 quilt panels serves as “a memorial for those who had died of AIDS, and to thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease”.
Shelf of quilt squares

Shelf of quilt squares


As I drove home, I reflected on the Aids Quilt and the loss represented. For some reason, the loss of my grandmother to cancer nearly 20 years earlier began to resurface. I re-felt that pain in ways I had forgotten and ways I hadn’t given myself previous permission or time to feel. I realized that each panel maker of the AIDS Quilt had used art-making as a way to tell the story of their loved one and the devastation of AIDS but also as a courageous act to heal from their own grief. Over the next few weeks, through many other conversations, events and research that would make this a more lengthy post; the Purses Project was born.
This quilt maker creatively used the actual clothing and hospital bracelet belonging to their loved one lost to AIDS

This quilt maker creatively used the actual clothing and hospital bracelet belonging to their loved one lost to AIDS


The focus of the project is the cancer epidemic among women. The feminine tool, the purse, is transformed into memorial art to honor individual women lost to cancer. The surface of a purse is “altered” with mixed media techniques to tell each woman’s unique story. Like the AIDS Quilt, this project is only possible through community involvement; individuals choosing to make an altered purse for their own female family member or loved one lost to cancer. As community members create purses in honor of their significant woman lost to cancer they will find empowerment and healing for their own grief. The ultimate goal for the project is a gallery exhibit of altered purses which lifts women out of the anonymity of statistics and signifies the ripple effect of each female life. Like the Aids Quilt, the true impact of cancer will be seen with the visual representation of many purses shown in mass number.

This was my most lengthy post to date and I appreciate your wading through the words and listening to my heart. If you have a lost a significant female in your life to cancer, please consider joining The Purses Project by making a purse.

Live Creatively,
Jamie

In the Art Studio: Mixed Media Art Inspired by The Purses Project

Detail of painted purse on Her Story Matters, mixed media painting by Jamie Howell

Detail of painted purse on Her Story Matters, mixed media painting by Jamie Howell


Over the weekend, I turned on some tunes with Spotify and painted my heart out! It was a fun combination of mixed media, Mumford & Sons blaring and paint splattering. I worked on several different canvases over the weekend, some are finished but many are still a work in progress. I did complete a set of whimsical painted birds (Sing & Soar) and a 12×12 mixed media painting of a purse inspired by (of course) The Purses Project. The painting, Her Story Matters, is a visual reminder of the true purpose of The Purses Project; to share her story (the life story of women lost to cancer) through the creative efforts of her loved ones. In sharing and creating, we can change the story of cancer and grief.
Here’s a few photos of my weekend in the art studio:
Her Story Matters, Mixed Media painting by Jamie Howell

Her Story Matters, Mixed Media painting by Jamie Howell


The purse painting combined acrylic paint, scrapbook papers, book pages and bits of my grandmother’s vintage lace slips
lace detail of Her Story Matters, mixed media painting by Jamie Howell

lace detail of Her Story Matters, mixed media painting by Jamie Howell


Sing & Soar, mixed media painting by Jamie Howell

Sing & Soar, mixed media painting by Jamie Howell


detail of Soar, mixed media on canvas by Jamie Howell

detail of Soar, mixed media on canvas by Jamie Howell


I’m also working on an altered book so while the purse painting was drying, I ran over and put gesso on the book pages.
Gesso prepares the altered book for painting

Gesso prepares the altered book for painting


My paint palette

My paint palette


I so love my little studio and the freedom it gives me to create. Most of all, being in my art studio makes me feel energized and alive. I hope today you have a place and a time when you create something that makes your heart full. Your studio could be in a kitchen, your backyard project, a classroom or the nursing home you visit. Your unique touch in even the simple things, can make all the difference.

Many thanks for your time with me today.

Live Creatively,
Jamie

How To Transfer Images (or lettering) with Citrasolv

Citrasolv (household cleaner turned awesome art medium)

Citrasolv (household cleaner turned awesome art medium)


Looking for an easy way to transfer images (drawings, photos, clip art or lettering) to a surface like fabric, wood, or paper? A household cleaner called CITRASOLV can give you incredible results! As an artist, I’ve done transfers using artists mediums like Gel Medium but was amazed at how easy Citrasolv was to use (plus it’s a money/time saver). For The Purses Project, If you’re concerned about hand-painting an image on your altered purse, why not print it and transfer it? Cheesy Easy!
Finished mixed media/altered purse with Citrasolv transfer for lettering

Finished mixed media/altered purse with Citrasolv transfer for lettering


I used Citrasolv to transfer the lettering (my grandmother’s name) to my mixed media/altered purse. Here’s a simple how to and some tips for the process:
1. First, gather a few supplies:
-Citrasolv (a household cleaner, I found mine at Ingles but I’ve heard Whole Foods and online
sources also carry it)
-Cotton balls
-A metal spoon
-Xerox copies of images/lettering to transfer (read more below)
-A purse (or other surface to transfer on to)
-Painter’s tape

For The Purses Project, your images should relate to the woman you lost to cancer such as personal photos, handwritten letters, old documents/awards, words or other mementos. I use the site, the Graphics Fairy (http://thegraphicsfairy.com/) for vintage images like birds, free fonts, etc. Take your image to your local office supply and make Xerox copies of all. Adjust the size and copy output to get a good, clear copy image. You can make black & white or color copies.
HINT–for words or lettering, choose mirror image before you click print on your computer. It will print backwards, but the words will reverse correctly when you finish the transfer.

Print words/letters in mirror image

Print words/letters in mirror image


2. Next, cut out the copied image but leave enough paper around the image so you can tape it to the surface. Tape the image face down on to the surface making sure it will not slide around or move.
Secure with tape

Secure with tape


3. Although Citrasolv is non-toxic, do this next step in a well ventilated area (open a window). Put Citrasolv on a cotton ball and rub across the paper in a circular motion until well saturated. You should see the image appear through the wet paper.
Saturate with Citrasolv so that the image appears through the wet paper


4. Saturate with Citrasolv so that the image appears through the wet paper


4. Rub the back of a metal spoon over the paper in small circular motions with pressure. Make sure you go over areas more than once and lift the corner to check the transfer. The more you rub, the better the image transfer.
Rub paper with the back of a spoon

Rub paper with the back of a spoon


Check the transfer before removing the tape

Check the transfer before removing the tape


5. Finally, remove the paper and check out your beautifully transferred image! You can leave it as is, but you can also paint, stamp or collage to add extra creativity! Read more about how I finished the lettering after the transfer here: https://thepursesproject.wordpress.com/category/adding-her-name-how-to-a-clumsy-attempt-at-sewing/
Name on altered purse done with Citrasolv transfer

Name on altered purse done with Citrasolv transfer

TIPS
1. I tried Citrasolv on FABRIC with a copy of a photo, WORKED GREAT.
2. I tried Citrasolv on a STRETCHED CANVAS and couldn’t for the life of me get a clear transfer.
If you have any tricks for this, please let me know.
3. I used Citrasolv with copies on PAPER and a WOOD PANEL, WORKED GREAT.
4. Remember, use the back of the spoon and go over areas more than once.
5. Print lettering in MIRROR IMAGE and the lettering will reverse correctly after the transfer.
6. You can always skip the Citrasolv, just print/copy an image and Mod Podge it directly on to
the surface. Citrasolv is best used when you want to see the background through the image.
7. Citrasolv is non-toxic, but work in a well ventilated area.

Many thanks for your time with me today!
Live Creatively,
Jamie Howell

How to make an Altered Purse for The Purses Project

The Purses Project is a community arts project inspired by my grandmother who I lost to ovarian cancer. It is my goal to reach out to others who have lost a significant female to cancer and embark on a creative journey together by creating altered purses that tell the story of our remarkable women (our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, friends and mentors) lost to cancer. Join me by creating an altered purse which creatively shares the amazing life story of your beloved and significant woman lost to cancer. In sharing your loss, you reflect and continue her abiding legacy.

mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project


I’m sure my grandmother would be embarrassed by the attention but the second altered purse in her honor is finished! In this post, I wanted to detail the how-to’s and some of the things I learned along the way. The question you may be wondering is–
Why TWO purses? Just how many purses do I have to make for this project?
You only need to make ONE purse, but I wanted to experiment, learn mixed media techniques and be able to offer a little advice to purse makers so I decided to have double the fun! Creating an altered/mixed media purse reflects the trend among women in scrapbooking, art journaling, mixed media art and various other creative ways preserve memories and tell our stories. The truth is women are creating like never before and mixed media is a popular form of feminine expression.

Now, let’s begin the tutorial
1. Go on a treasure hunt: First, find a purse that belonged to your significant female. If one is not available, scout out purses at Ebay, antique stores, clearance bins, Goodwill or garage sales. Next, Gather a few photos, memorabilia, objects, etc. that belonged to your significant female. Gather other favorites things like songs, colors, accessories, sayings, etc. Shop your local craft store for fun embellishments like stamps, scrapbook paper, etc.

Goodwill purse

Goodwill purse


My photos

My photos


A few crafty supplies

A few crafty supplies


2. Wipe the purse surface with alcohol. Lightly sand the purse, tape off any areas you do not want to paint and apply a coat of gesso to the desired areas. (This step can be optional depending on how you choose to do your purse. You can also simply start attaching photos with Mod Podge to the purse surface but if you plan to paint, you will need to gesso the surface first). Allow to dry.
Gather a few supplies for painting your altered purse

Gather a few supplies for painting your altered purse


Tape off anything you want unpainted

Tape off anything you want unpainted


Apply one coat of gesso

Apply one coat of gesso


Let it dry by propping open the painted areas

Let it dry by propping open the painted areas


3. Now the fun part–start painting, gluing scrapbook papers, stamping, etc. I created a basic background by quickly painting with yellow, white and purple acrylic paint and allowing the colors to blend together. I used white spray paint with a vintage doily and confetti ribbon to make interesting texture on the background. I also attached bits of an old lace curtain with Mod Podge.
Lace on altered purse

Lace on altered purse

Quick and simple background for altered purse

Quick and simple background for altered purse


Spray paint over a doily for interesting texture

Spray paint over a doily for interesting texture


4. I made black and white and color copies of my photos and used Mod Podge to adhere the copied photos to the purse. Play around with the arrangement of photos and objects until you feel satisfied, then glue. I created a mixed media portrait of my grandmother by gluing the copied photo of her to scrapbook paper (w/Mod Podge) then once dry, painting over the photo with thinned down acrylic paints. The butterfly wings are adhesive backed canvas pieces purchased from the scrapbook section at Michael’s Arts and Crafts. I painted the wings with acrylic paint and outlined with glitter paint. I added the stitch lines and wrote my grandmother’s favorite saying “Be Pertty” in black gel pen.
Detail of portrait. Mixed media/altered art purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

Detail of portrait. Mixed media/altered art purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project


5. Here’s a little tip: the leather purse needed a little support while I was working on it especially to keep it flat when I was gluing on the photos so I inserted a stack of magazines into the purse keep it firm while working and for drying.
6. I printed my grandmother’s full name out from a word document. You can use the lettering as is, cut it apart and glue it down. In my case, I printed the lettering in MIRROR IMAGE (an option when selecting to print) and did a Citrasolv transfer on to canvas paper. I will post the steps for this fun technique in my next post. I detail how I did the stitching around her name in the this post: https://thepursesproject.wordpress.com/category/adding-her-name-how-to-a-clumsy-attempt-at-sewing/
Name on altered purse done with Citrasolv transfer

Name on altered purse done with Citrasolv transfer


6. The other paper items like the restaurant check (my grandmother was a waitress) and a photo of her vintage Falcon are all attached with Mod Podge. Heavier and more dimensional items like the spoon and yellow roses are attached with E6000.
Attach paper with Mod Podge and heavier items with E6000

Attach paper with Mod Podge and heavier items with E6000


7. I hand painted the powder puffs (from the Coty face powder my grandmother used) and the coffee stains on the restaurant check. I added another coat of Mod Podge to seal the surface and keep everything well attached. I outlined the edges of the purse with black glitter paint (reminiscent of the sparkly black glitter heels in my grandmother’s closet) and let everything dry overnight.
detail of 2nd purse in honor of my grandmother

detail of 2nd purse in honor of my grandmother


8. To finish I added two more items to symbolize my grandmother’s life as a landlord and my adoption in to her family. I added the vintage key with a simple jute string and created an altered tag signifying my adoption by my father (a loving sacrifice by my dad that indicates the character she instilled in her children). I Mod Podged a small copy of my birth certificate on to a canvas tag and used parts of the certificate to create a ladder (a symbol of my dad’s profession as a paint contractor) and attached a copy of my hand from childhood reaching for the ladder.
Mixed media tag for altered purse

Mixed media tag for altered purse

Key on altered purse

Key on altered purse


And Finished! It’s as simple as that. Why not create your own unique version today? Remember, this is MY creative expression–you may want to explore a totally different avenue like sewing and IT”S ALL GOOD! You will discover new things about your beloved female as well as yourself!
mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project


Making a purse for the project is not only about your significant female but can provide healing for unresolved grief. Trust me, I was the first one that said,
“Oh, I can do this. My grandmother died over 20 years ago, I’ve already dealt with it”.
I can’t begin to tell you how healing and empowering making the purse has been for me (creativity and healing is well documented). Everyone’s journey will be different, but I would love to hear your story of creativity and healing through this project.
Many thanks for your time with me today.

Live Creatively,
Jamie

Second Purse Finished–Help Me Decide?

Sometimes we don’t need to know all the answers, we just need to START. I started this project trusting that the answers would come if I would just begin. The Purses Project has been an exciting journey into social media, blogging and new art techniques. I still have a long way to go, but I learn something new every day by people sharing their advice and knowledge via blogs, videos, podcasts, twitter, etc.

I currently have a handful of women in the process of making purses for their significant female lost to cancer. I’ve tried to be their faithful guide/encourager through the process but I realized I had a problem. The purse I created for my grandmother was a wooden cigar box purse and NOT the typical leather purse that most women are using for the project. The beauty of this project is there is no right or wrong way to do the purses, but I still felt like I needed to try my hand at painting a leather purse.

Goodwill purse

Goodwill purse

I decided to paint a leather purse so I could know first hand how leather would respond to paint, mediums, glues, etc. Here’s the second purse I created in memory of my grandmother for The Purses Project.

mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

This purse has some of the same references as the first purse but there are new images like her car (vintage Falcon), hand stitching, and the powder puffs from the Coty face powder that used to sit on her makeup table. I didn’t add as many photos of her but added more objects that reflect who she was.

Detail of portrait. Mixed media/altered art purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

Detail of portrait. Mixed media/altered art purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

I learned a lot by painting this leather purse and will detail some of the how-to’s in next week’s posts. But first, I need your help–I like both purses, each for different reasons and can’t decide which one to use for the project.

My completed purse for The Purses Project (Jamie Howell)

My completed purse for The Purses Project (Jamie Howell)

mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? WHICH PURSE DO YOU LIKE? Purse 1 or Purse 2?
I appreciate your time to comment

Inspiring Lettering: Adding Her Name to the Purse

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Adding Her Name, The Purses Project is a memorial project so the name is an important part of each purse. There are no limits for “how” to do the name on your purse–you can paint it, draw it, stamp it, stencil it, glue it, sew it–you get the idea. The internet is a creative source, download free fonts from sources like the graphics fairy (www.thegraphicsfairy.com) or spell her name in cool vintage scrabble tiles or typewriter keys from Etsy or Ebay. Your local Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s is stocked full of lettering in the scrapbooking section. Some of the examples below are not purses, but super easy to apply the general idea to your purse. For now, be inspired by the creative lettering done by amazing artists found on Pinterest:

Source: flickr.com via Jamie on Pinterest

Source: via Jamie on Pinterest

Source: bing.com via Jamie on Pinterest

Source: etsy.com via Jamie on Pinterest