May 20, 2012

Happy Birthday BiblioBags!

When I was in elementary school I was known as "the artist."

I was really shy (believe it or not) but I could draw a mean Garfield.  One day in first grade I remember drawing several Garfield portraits for different kids in my class.  Looking back on my yearbooks, most of the comments talk about how good my drawings were or how I "should be an artist one day."  I got that one a lot.  I realize I got so many similar comments mostly since I was shy and not super popular and kids were just grasping at straws to write something about me.  At the same time, as an adult, those comments about being an artist haunted me.

As a teenager, I became more involved in theater and writing.  I decided I wanted to write screenplays.  I went on to get married extremely (like, almost illegally) young at 19 years old (it's a Mormon thing) and went to AASU to get my bachelor's in English.  A year after I graduated, I had a baby.  Then, I submitted a screenplay to The Nicholl Fellowship Competition and got to the quarterfinal round!  That is so far my biggest writing accomplishment yet.  I wish I had more to report but at the same time, I got extremely sick.  I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease and endometriosis among other things.  After taking care of my family, writing was my main goal.  But in the back of my head, I always felt a guilt for not pursuing visual arts more.

One lazy afternoon, I was flipping through a "Country Living" magazine (I love CL!) and came across this book purse tutorial.  I literally dropped the magazine and started going through my books to see which one would make a good purse.  I selected the Riverside Shakespeare left over from college (sorry Dr. Baker).  The purse came out great (for a first try, anyway) and I got so many compliments on it.

The first "BiblioBag" . . .
It's hard to believe that my Etsy shop has been open 2 years.  Actually, no.  I believe that.  It's the other numbers that I can't believe.  112 sales.  That doesn't include the craft fairs I've attended or the purses I've made for family and friends.  If I add all that up, I've made easily over 100 purses.  That's crazy to me!  My mom often asks me if I get sick of it.  I can honestly say, no!  I have literally, dozens of purses to work on at the moment and I still have a list on my head (and on Ebay and of books I want to buy for even more purses.  When I start a new purse, I'm excited and nervous.  About midway through, when I'm fusing interfacing with fabric I just get a feeling of peace and calm.  Yes, it's bizarre.  Something about making these purses is extremely soothing to me.  It just feels right.

Even though I didn't come up with the initial concept myself (something many book purse makers won't 'fess up to!), I'm proud of the different designs I've been able to create.  I found ways to make spines bigger and to make clutches with magnetic snaps.  By experimenting with purses I was able come up with a completely new (well, to me at least) concept: book spine bracelets!  I'm really proud of these bracelets and the other jewelry I make too.

It's a strange trade, I admit it.  Purses out of books.  It's a kooky concept and who knows how long it will last.  But for now, I'm thankful.  Without the amazing people who go out on a limb and buy my purses or trust me enough to design one for them, this couldn't have happened.  I couldn't have dreamed the success I've had.  Sure, 112 sales on Etsy in 2 years isn't that great compared to a lot of people.  But my purses are rather expensive and quirky so I couldn't be happier.  I've also suffered health problems (including 3 surgeries)  the whole way through.  So I'm overwhelmed looking at the success of BiblioBags.  Everything else in my life I've planned (or attempted to plan) for years and years.  This was unexpected.  Of course, I wouldn't have had the guts or self-esteem to open an Etsy shop without my husband, parents, my friends Lindsey and Rochelle and many, many others.

My writing has taken a back seat to my purses and mostly my health but I'm still working on plots in my head.  My little guy starts kindergarten in the fall so I'm thinking everything will fall into place then . . . if not, I'll FORCE things into place!

Thank all of you so much for your support and kind compliments.  They really do mean the world to me.

The giveaway is still going full force!  Leave a comment on here and comments on my FB page through Monday night at midnight EST.  I'll announce the winner Tuesday morning on Facebook and here.



Page Clothier/A Velvet Leaf said...

Congrats Autumn- I am such an admirer of your gorgeous bags and bracelets (craftsmanship is amazing) but I can't believe I wasn't following your blog! Fixed that, and look forward to following it...Page from aVelvetLeaf

Kimberly Cone said...

So cool. I love your creativity.

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