That was my first thought. My second was that I had to show them off. She also makes beautiful handbags.
I asked her a few questions:
My name is Jennifer Guthrie. I live in the mountains of Northern California with my husband and 2 big old children... (they really do grow up fast!) I have always been creative... and used to sew a new garment when I had nothing exciting to wear to school the next day. I used to sew dolls and bears, for gifts, and because I wanted them... and knew I could do it better myself.
How did you get started making your upcycled wallets and bags?
I started selling on etsy after much urging by my sister... who sells as Petals.etsy.com. I love the idea of making something new out of something old. Living in the mountains too, helped steer me to Upcycling. No fabric stores for 100 miles, can force one to think outside of the box. I love the body and feel of wools. I love how you can full, felt it, and dye it and make it into something completely different from what you started with.
My favorite thing now is to make a "pretty" bag out of a "manly" suitcoat. I love pretty things, but don't consider myself super "girly" so this mix suits me well.
What inspires you?
The 30s and stories of the Great Depression and the ingenuity of women in rural areas making do, or doing without inspire me. Living here in the mountains, things like tall trees, and funny blue jays scaring off squirrels to win a meal, inspire me. I now find myself seeing something beautiful and asking myself "How can I capture that in wool?" I have a horse, whose grace & beauty inspires me and I relished the challenge of making a bag with a horse on it... without it being too horsey. I live in a mixed forest with oaks and pines, birds, wildflowers... you will see hints of these themes in my bags. I think too, that the cold winters, and the high cost of heating fuel may have helped me to appreciate another of the wonders of wool!
Look at everything as a raw material. Think of how it can be used in another way. Garments made of fine material, such as wool, linen, and wonderful cottons deserve to be used up and worn out. It is fun to see how much "new" you can avoid buying. For example, I use a lot of piping in my bags and wallets. 10 yards costs about $3.99 at the big city fabric store. I found a bunch of macrame twine at the thrift store. I think it started out as about 200 yards of nylon fiber twine and it makes a perfect piping filler. It cost $2 and went to fund a hospital. The $4.99 at the fabric store didn't do much for the folks in China who made it, and plenty for the chain owners.