What me crafty?
The lightening bolt of craft inspiration can strike at any time. One day while perusing the local flea market/junk swap, we found a purse. No ordinary purse, this wacky tacky number was made of a painted basket, burlap, plastic handles and was decorated with flocked foliage. Mary was absolutely thrilled because among the things she found inside were vintage lipstick cases (some still filled with what can only be described as fossilized lipstick), hairpins, tissue and various and sundry Avon products. At three dollars (haggled down from five) the purse was destined to be hers. Upon further inspection, we noticed a label inside that read "Susie Lee Original by East Texas handbag Co."
Usually, my laziness gets the better of my desire to research, but when we got home, we immediately began our internet search for the East Texas Handbag Company. The very little that we were able to learn about Miss Susie Lee and The East texas Handbag Co. came from the blog The Thrift Store Divas. According to the divas, East Texas is prime peach country and bushel baskets were used to harvest the ripe fruit and take it to market. Essentially, the retired peach-picking baskets were "upcycled" (to use a very trendy crafting term) and turned into fun and folky purses.
Lovely examples of East Texas Handbags
(photos from Thrift Store Divas blogspot)
Another example of the handbags
This one is available for purchase at
Apparently, the production of East Texas Handbags was halted in the 1970's and the rest is left to memory and the surviving handbags. Without delay, I began to think how I could pick up where Susie Lee left off. "You can easily find baskets," I said to myself. "Remember the two yards of vintage burlap you have," I continued, " and believe it or not, you have a huge stash of handles, trims, flowers and lining fabrics." I was about to launch into a detailed monologue about amazing ideas for all the many purses I was going to make when I stopped and said, "You really need to make some friends so you don't have to talk to yourself so much."
The Rose Garden Basket purse (handmade by Mr. Tiny)
A cheery lining of red and white gingham
Yeah, they're kind of corny and according to our research, their heyday was the 1960's, but I think think that they have a naive, folky quality about them that hearkens back to an even earlier era. Couldn't you just see Jeanne Crain carrying one in State Fair?
Dick Haymes, Jeanne Crain and Dana Andrews in State Fair, 1945
Jeanne's clothes in this movie are pretty much the inspiration for everything I make!!!
Mary carries a Mr. Tiny "Bag-sket"
Because the basket purses are a novelty, thy truly lend themselves to all kinds of cornball themes.
|I've never followed the cupcake trend, but this was a custom design for a cupcake-aholic.|
|South of the Border|
|Mother, may I?|
|Floral & Fancy|
I admit, these are far from high art. They're probably even a little too lame to be considered folk art. At best, they reside comfortably in the world of wacky tacky!