Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Theme Challenge Reveal-Amulet Bags

I had the pleasure of being the Art Elements member to choose March's theme challenge. I have been wanting to make some amulet bags/spirit bags/medicine bags for quite some time, so naturally I ran with the idea for this month's theme.
I actually started making my first amulet bag while I was doing the research for the blog post announcement of the theme. Below is the first one I made.  Black deerskin stitched with black waxed linen. The flap is embellished with a slice of a real bone (marrow removed & dried) it has brown deerskin lace looped through the bone and a wooden scarab bead and carved bone hand along with feathers to finish it off. It's the perfect size for holding my glasses but for now it just has a piece of papyrus tucked in-you can see it peeking out in the photo below right.

Next on my list of amulet bags was a small velvet pouch. I had the perfect cabochon-the hand holding a purple moon by Jenny Davies-Reazor. I beaded around the cabochon on stiff stuff then added it to the pouch and continued beading. The golden green of the velvet worked wonderfully with the purple peacock ribbon I had. I lined the bag with purple silk and tossed some amethyst colored crystals inside for protection & wisdom.
After the velvet bag, I went back to my stash of leather. Then I went a little crazy. I became obsessed with making these little pouches. Below is natural deerskin with a brass raven skull attaached to black deerskin with lots of feathers. I added a black crocheted chain for the strap and bone and wooden beads.
Then I continued to sort through my scraps of leather trying to use whatever shape and size I could find. I love using the rough, raw edges that are not straight. I try not to cut the leather unless I absolutely have to. Below is black deerskin with a Sonoran Sunset stone cabochon, beaded with seed beads and Czech glass beads on stiff stuff first. Then I attached it to the flap of the pouch and added metal and jasper beads along with feathers. Black suede strap has bone beads added. I stitched this one together using 1mm leather and left the ends long to attach metal and jasper beads which I accidentally cropped out of the photo!
Then another little scrap piece of black deerskin called out to me. Love this little shape below. I beaded around a 1940's Indian Head nickel with pyrite, Czech and seed beads. The tassel is real horse hair saved from the first horse my daughter fell in love with-a black/white paint named Lexie.
Another little scrap of black deerskin was used along with store-bought black fringe that I sandwiched between the front/back at the bottom while stitching together with black waxed linen. I had a beautiful little scrap of kangaroo fur that a friend of mine (from Australia) had given me and it was perfect for this little amulet bag. I had bone and wooden beads that complemented the color of the fur perfectly.
Then I found that I had this pre-cut golden piece of cowhide. You can find this at most craft stores for making wallets and small items. I used a piece of dark brown leather from fellow team member Lindsay to create the flap and beaded around a polymer clay Buddha amulet from Jenny Davies-Reazor to add to the flap. Brass beads and a brass OM charm finish it off nicely. This size will actually hold your driver's license and a credit card very nicely!
Next, I found a really rough looking piece of cowhide that came in a grab bag of leather scraps I ordered. I almost threw it out when I first received it. But I saw it in a new light when I searched through my leather this time! It is the perfect little shape for tucking small amulets and treasures into.
I stitched a Chinese coin on with brown waxed linen then added some brass beads, coral and turquoise along with brass charms. I can live with the scars and markings on this leather. It definitely looks vintage.

I had some beautiful periwinkle leather that I got a while back. It is such a lovely shade that I decided I had to make an amulet bag paired with a scrap of really soft brown leather. I used a small buckle and a goddess pendant to attach to the flap closure. Stitched with brown waxed lined and has silver beads and silver charms for embellishment as well as cardinal and bluejay feathers. The cardinal feathers are from a female and are a beautifully muted brownish red shade.

Next I found a scrap of heavy green suede. It is such a heavy gauge leather that I had to hammer the crease into it!  I used an old pendant that I made from copper, brass filigree and brass wire nest to hang from the flap. I added a brass feather charm, copper bullet shaped charm, real feathers and green crystal beads. This is going to be my 'poem keeper'.  I intend to write down Emily Dickinson's poem-"Hope is the thing with feathers" and tuck it inside.
I had this piece of yellow ochre colored leather that paired perfectly with this polymer clay milagro heart cabochon by Jenny Davies-Reazor. (Yes! I get a lot of beautiful pieces from Jenny) I beaded around the heart with seed beads, added black waxed linen to the brown suede straps so I could add coral beads and black seed beads, along with feathers. There are also carved bone beads on the strap. To stitch this amulet bag together I used artificial sinew which was the perfect color.

 Then I found this dark brown calves' leather which when I folded it over was very similar in size to the first black deerskin bag I made. I really wanted to add a deer antler to at least ONE of my amulet bags but it just wasn't working until I made this one. I was going to use it as an actual closure but then decided it was just going to attach it as adornment. Then of course, there was a small scrap of kangaroo fur left on my work table the was the perfect size! This one is pretty simple, not a lot of embellishement but I like the simplicity.

I kept telling myself to stop already with all the leather amulet bags. I really had intended to make ONE leather, ONE fabric, ONE felted, ONE woven.... But as you can see the leather consumed me!
I did however, make one very small looped amulet bag below. I used waxed linen and the cardboard roll from toilet paper as a mold. Just looping around and around until it was the length I wanted. I tucked a 'lucky stone', a 'lucky penny' and a 'lucky turtle' bead inside. The strap is simple crocheted chain and embellished with glass and copper beads.
I still intend to keep making these little amulet bags. I have 4 in various stages of progress on my work table right now. AND I am determined to make at least one felted bag to carry the 'lucky beans' I bought in New Orleans. It will be red like a voodoo gris gris bag and I also have a small preserved alligator foot to attach to the bag, along with a Marie Laveau charm!
So, check back with me to see if I actually get these things done.

Now it't time for blog hopping to see what everyone else has created.

Here is the list of participants;


Samatha Wescott-
Oksana Bevz-
Genevieve Camp-

AE Members-



patty miller said...

I am in love with each and every one of these. They are gorgeous! Each is unique and beautiful.

Cathy Spivey Mendola said...

Thank you so much!! I really had fun with this. I am definitely hooked on making these little bags.

Caroline said...

I've scrolled through your whole post in awe.... Every one is gorgeous! Thanks so much for a brilliant theme, it's been fun!

OksanaB said...

Wow! That is incredible! So many amazing bags: every one is unique and beautiful in its own way.

Caroline said...

Wow! What can I say...each and everyone is beautiful and I love the different ways you've embellished them to give each one character. Thanks you for giving us this challenge to work with.

SueBeads said...

Cathy!!! What the heck! You are amazing! I love all of them! I'm in awe of your artistic eye - how you picked out the embellishments for each bag! That you made so many! That they aren't in a museum!!! Thanks for choosing the monthly challenge!

Cathy Spivey Mendola said...

Thank you to everyone! I had so much fun with this theme. I think I may have found my niche:-)

Jenny said...

I'm sorry to not have hopped til now! O. M. G. I am blown away. I love leather. I can't pick a favorite! And I'm thrilled you were inspired by piecesni made! This was such a great challenge- and I too, feel like I have only just begun!

Laney said...

Oh wow!!! I want to come to your studio and 'find' stuff too!! amazing!!

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