About me

I dream handbags

I dream handbags. Really. When people see my work and ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” I can honestly say, they come to me in my first waking moments.   That is also the time of day I rely on to problem solve.  There have been many times when I am working on a particular piece and run into an issue with either construction (how am I going to attach that?); design (where is this going from here?); or technical detail (what hardware will best accomplish this?) and I find myself stuck. I have learned that if I set it aside – sleep on it, if you will – the solutions present themselves in the twilight.

Inspiration for designs can come from anywhere – wave patterns on the shore while on vacation (Minnesota is fairly land-locked), the girders of a building under construction, and the art deco lines etched on the elevator door in a historic building are all places that gave rise to some of my recent creations.  The world is filled with wonderful patterns, textures and lines.  They present themselves, mostly when I am unaware of even looking for them.

Then there is “The Stash”.  I love fabric.  I love the fibers, the texture, the hand, colors and patterns. Do I love ALL fabric? Absolutely not! I abhor inferior weaves, laboratory produced synthetics (with rare exception), poorly made color dyes, and fibers that make fabric that make fabric feel slimy.  This should not be confused with silky, and luscious drape; I mean cheap, slimy fabric.  I am blessed to have resources for fabulous, fine quality fabrics and I buy plenty of it. When I find a beautiful piece of cloth, it joins the stash in my workroom. I have amassed a collection of the world’s finest fibers, many from designers that read like a list of the world’s who’s-who of fashion design. The hides I purchase are subject to the same strict standards. The hand, smell, texture, weight, tanning process and origin are all carefully considered. I only use that which is worthy of my time and will make the most beautiful and useful bag.  I love to begin a new project by walking into The Stash [closet] where combinations of beautiful cloth and hides are blended in my mind’s eye to become the next bag on my cutting table.

The details are the crowning touch of my creations.  I maintain a collection of antique buttons that range from charming and demure to outstanding statement pieces. Included are buttons made from glass, various metals, early plastics and polymers such as celluloid, Bakelite and casein along with china, horn, bone, wood, shell; pretty much any material that has stood the test of time, beautifully. Some are particularly rare buttons; some are exquisite in detail while others are just plain fun! After fabric, hides, accent materials and hardware have been chosen, my favorite step is “Button Pairings”. This creative exercise pulls all the elements together and sets the piece apart.  While in some instances I find matching buttons, many are truly one-of-a-kind and even if I make a bag with the same fabrics, the finishing details will always be unique.

Patty Ronan