Friday, 29 August 2008

Custom-made bags

This summer I have made a few bags specially designed for particular people and functions - a capacious zipped folding shopping bag (see below), a bag to hold my mini laptop for when I am traveling, a good-sized handbag and a shoulder bag designed to hold my A3 format portfolio books.
Left you can see the handbag, which also has a large velcro closing pocket on the back (below) and another velcro-closing pocket inside.

While playing with designing this bag I allowed myself to be diverted and experimented with making a zipped wallet. I made a zip-pull to match the button that closes the handbag. I shall have to experiment a bit more with this as the idea works well. I can see a range of bags with zip pockets appearing in our range in the near future.
To see our current range, download the catalogue from our website at Anna Macneil.

The folding shopping bag was designed for my mother. She wanted to have something that could fit in her handbag when not in use, but be completely secure after she had filled it up with shopping when she comes across to Inverness for the day. As it is made from Harris Tweed, it doesn't fold flat, but it does tuck up into a comparatively small space.

The bag stays folded by means of a magnetic catch at either end of the top zipper panel - keeps the ends of the zip neat when the bag is in use as there are corresponding catches on the sides of the bag. The handle straps are long enough to allow the bag to be carried on the shoulder, but short enough to make it easy to carry as a shopping bag.

As the bag is fully lined, with a stiffened base and embroidered on both sides, this would not be a cheap bag to make on a commercial basis, but if someone is willing to pay £65 I can make it in whatever colour and design is wanted.

The computer bag has a foam padded lining to keep the laptop safe, with inside pockets to hold all the extra bits and pieces such as charger, mouse etc. The shoulder strap can clip on and off making it easier to stow inside a larger bag when flying.
The portfolio bag is simply an extra-wide shoulder bag such as the one you can see on my website, with the addition of a flap over the top and fastened with a magnetic catch to keep the bag closed.

If you have a need for a specialised bag, let me know and we can see what we can come up with!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Polymer Clay Buttons

I have been experimenting with using my laser cutting machine to create Celtic designs on polymer clay buttons. Polymer clay is an easily modelled, coloured, plastic clay that can be "fired" in a domestic over. At only 120 degrees celsius, the plastic particles bind together to form a relatively hard piece of plastic. I use this to create many of the buttons that feature on my bags (see my website). Mostly these are just colours marbled together and shaped by hand, but I am trying to be more adventurous.
I have tried three different methods with the one design. Left and middle, a very thin layer of orange clay was cut on the laser cutting machine and the pieces laid onto a brown clay base. One is the negative shape, the other the positive - so no waste! In the middle button, there is a middle layer of marbled brown and beige clay between the orange and brown clays. For the button on the right, there is an engraved line as well as the cut lines, to create the border which shows the "unders and overs". Once the pieces were all in place, the triangular shapes were cut with a tissue blade. I laid the buttons upside down and fixed brass button backs in place with a small ring of clay before baking in the oven. The technique needs a bit of refinement, but I think it has potential. In due course, some of these buttons will appear on my bags, but I think there is too much work for it to be generally cost effective - most of the buttons will continue to be simple marbled colours and hand-shaped.