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:

A short writing activity to prompt memories:

Preparing a purse for paint:

How to begin a purse for the project:

How I added my grandmother’s name to the purse with hand-stitching:

How to add personal objects to the purse:

Where to find a purse:

Inspiration for adding lettering to the purse:

How to do a Citrasolv transfer with lettering:

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.


In the Studio: Mixed Media of Fearless Frida Kahlo

Today in the studio, I decided to do a little mixed media piece honoring my favorite female artist, FRIDA KAHLO. If you are a woman artist, Frida awakens something in you to be different and more daring. Frida’s life and artwork reminds us as women to BE FEARLESS. In photographs of her, she seems to exude confidence and defiance and all the while sporting her famous unibrow (I’ve added a few of those photos at the end of this post). But first, here’s the steps I took to create this mixed media canvas.
vogue cover of frida kahlo

I started with a 12×12 canvas and painted the background with Aqua Green and lots of white. Next, I added some stencilling with white spray paint and painted playful flowers like the ones Frida often wore in her hair. Gray and white drybrushing helped me to distress the background. I splashed on a watery mix of white satin paint and watched as it dripped down the canvas.
background for frida kahlo

I printed out an image of Frida Kahlo and hand colored her lips and flowers with yellow and red Prismacolor pencils. I used the Aqua Green and white mixture to dry brush around the image edges. A toothbrush helped me splatter small dots of white paint on the image and on the canvas.
hand colored copy of frida kahlo

I printed other images like quotes by Frida and Day of the Dead skulls to celebrate Frida’s Mexican culture. I painted the skulls with a watery mix of yellow, pink and purple and let dry. I also drybrushed around the edges of the quote and let dry. I cut all of the images out and moved them around on the canvas until I was satisfied with the layout.
painted skulls for frida kahlo mixed media

layout for frida kahlo mixed media

I attached the images to the canvas with Mod Podge and let dry.
detail of frida quote

I “inherited” these cool brass letter stencils from my mom after a cleanning frenzy. They are great because they connect together so the word is perfectly spaced and lined up. Love it! I used black acrylic paint and a stencil brush to add the words, BE FEARLESS
stencils for f. kahlo mixed media

I added more distressing by drybrushing with gray, then white and splattered small dots of white and yellow paint all around the canvas (via a toothrush transformed into cool aplattering tool).
detail of frida mixed media

The finished canvas was allowed to dry and then a layer of Mod Podge painted over the entire surface.

Fearless Frida, mixed media painting by Jamie Howell

Fearless Frida, mixed media painting by Jamie Howell

This canvas is being given as a birthday gift to an artist friend of mine but I want to make another for my studio as a constant reminder to BE FEARLESS in my creativity!
To finish this post, here’s some photos from Pinterest that show Frida at her confident best. Don’t you love the flowers and beautiful jewelry she adorned herself with?

Source: via Gabriella on Pinterest

Source: via Barb on Pinterest

Source: via Nuria on Pinterest

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 ( 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: via Jamie on Pinterest

Source: via Jamie on Pinterest

Source: via Jamie on Pinterest

Source: via Jamie on Pinterest

Altered Purse Artists: Inspiration for The Purses Project

Isn’t the web such a great place to find inspiration? Pinterest made it so easy for me to put together a board devoted to The Purses Project ( with altered purses, art techniques, videos and alternative purses such as book purses! You can see my completed altered purse at the “Getting Started on a Purse” (link to the right). I’ve also found two fantastic blogs with great altered purses and clear how to’s. Follow the links under their photos to see how they created their masterpieces and get your own creative juices flowing for your purse. REMEMBER, don’t forget to add the full name of the woman you are honoring as well as your own name as the purse maker. (see details on category: Getting started on a Purse)

Altered purse by Penny Richards pennyrichardsca

Altered purse by Penny Richards pennyrichardsca Altered purse by Sara Batkin's Legacy of Love
Altered purse by Sara Batkin’s Legacy of Love