Tag Archives: art therapy

How to Make a Market Bag…Plain or Fancy

…Or a road-trip bag, knitting/crochet bag, or gift bag.  Only basic sewing skills are needed.  Really.

Here’s the simple design, using folded paper.  You can make any size of bag by making sure that the length of each “B” =  half the length of “A” plus a half-inch.

And here is my overused homemade pattern, below, with a second photo showing what the folded fabric you’ll cut looks like when opened.  The bottom edge is placed on the fold of the fabric, as you’ll see next….


I’ve cut the inner and outer shells first, then cut quilted cotton to use as an interfacing.  Above the cut-out rectangles, notice that each side flap is about a half-inch wider than half of what will become the bottom of the bag–which allows for the side seams.  (The length of each “B” =  half the length of “A” plus a half-inch, as in the paper bag example.)

Use your pattern again to cut out the interior pocket lengths–quilted fabric can be added as interfacing, as in the following photo, but you could just double a sturdy fabric–such as canvas or duck, for use as interior pockets.

  Next, I pin the pockets where I want to sew them, leaving an inch and a half below each pocket strip, so the pockets are near the bottom of the bag.  Then I spaced and pinned the pockets on both sides about equally–with four pockets per side.

Sew around the entire pocket strip, turning the fabric and sewing up–and then back down–each of the individual pocket seams (I pause and add some extra stitching at the top, where the opening of the pocket might get heavier use), and then continue  along the bottom until I get to the next pocket seam.

After the pockets are sewn on, place the (backside) edges of one side of the bag together, pin, and sew.  Next, open the seams and tack down those seam edges.

Do the same to the other side, then flatten the bottom edges and sew those closed.


Using the remaining fabric, decide on the length of fabric straps.  If you’re short on fabric, use the rectangular scrap fabric to make fabric tabs for four “d” rings, and buy handles at a craft shop.  (I used scraps, and made a fabric tab to hold a brass ring in the finished bag photo.)

By the way, I cut the quilted interfacing for the handle straps short on both ends–it makes it easier to sew the finished straps into three layers of fabric–plus trim!

Next, sew the interfacing all around the outer shell (this step can be done to either the inner or outer shell), and then pin and sew sides as before, with seams facing inside and tacked down.  Sew the bottom edges together next.  At this point, I turned over and tacked down the top edges, pinned piping trim and handles on (centered, about six inches strap-to-strap on either side).

Sew it all down–it’ll make it easier to handle once you join the inner and outer shells.

Insert the inner shell into the outer, and find the bottom corners, fitting tightly together and pinning, then sew them down before moving on, to fit and pin the top of the bag.  Before sewing the tops together, add any extras–like a key tag.  Then sew around the top several times.  Use a pattern or simply follow previous seams, but do get right to the top under the trim at least once, so the inner and outer bag edges meet well.

  Last, a stabilizing bottom pad can really help.  For this bag, I’ve cut out the same interior fabric, folded it to the size of the interior of the bottom, sewn it–leaving an opening–and inserted a cut-to-size piece of styrofoam.  (I got the end of a roll from a pool supply company for this purpose, but you can use any stiff, recycled material that will hold its shape and stand up to hand washing.  I’ve used cut, stained, and varnished veneer hardwood in the past, and skipped the fabric cover.)  In this case, I slipped the styrofoam in its pouch, sewed down the edges all around, and then sewed a tacking cross in the center of the finished support.

Total time:  about six to eight hours.


Seafoam Medium Market Bag

Gladiola Bob and the Bloomingfoods Farmers’ Market

Gladiola Bob & Bloomingfoods Farmers' Market

Gladiola Bob and the Bloomingfoods Farmers’ Market

Last week, Bloomingfoods East, in Bloomington, Indiana, accepted—and hung—this painting.  I’d struggled to “get it right” for many years, and I was thrilled that the manager, Tom Zeta, and several employees received it with a gracious delight.

Why it all happened is a story that takes a bit more telling, but it started with the realization that a grocery store—which is what Bloomingfoods is, after all—is generous to its competition, allowing a farmers’ market to set up out front in its parking lot every single Wednesday of the long market season—for 34 years.

The painting features sketches of some of the farmers who offer their home-grown and/or homemade wares to the public at the Wednesday Market:  Left to right, Bob Wise (Wise Acres);  Jeff Padgett (Padgett Farm);  Chester Lehman (Olde Lane Apple Orchard);  and Marcia Veldman (Meadowlark Farm).

Six years and change have passed since I started this oil painting;  finding time to work on it and trying to capture its early morning spirit (and its tiny, dime-sized faces) proved daunting.  I worked from photos I took a year before Bob Wise—known as “Gladiola Bob”—died, and remembered his kind spirit each time I worked on it.

Now in its 34th year, according to Market Master Don Dunkerley and his partner, Jean Ellis, of Mountain Greenhouse in Bloomfield, Indiana, the Wednesday Market remains independent.  It’s a non-profit, co-operative venture, unconnected to the city’s Parks & Rec farmers’ markets. Dunkerley has been bringing his fresh produce and plants to this market since it began, and is grateful to Bloomingfoods for their support of local farmers.  “They’re so co-operative,” he said, “they help to keep a space open for us.”


large market bag

I was once a vendor at this market.  I’m a writer, with a few novels out under my pen name, Laura Lynn Leffers (.com), but I’d had a bit of trouble with my eyes, and started sewing market bags—focusing on a seam—until I had too many bags to foist on friends and family.  While I awaited a diagnosis (it turned out to be  blepharitis, a simple tear duct problem), this is the market that took me in, allowed me space, and gave me a positive outlet.

small market bag

small market bag

Eventually, Marcia Veldman, who sells produce and flowers at the Wednesday Market but is also the Bloomington Parks and Recreation co-ordinator for the big Saturday Market at City Hall, suggested that I apply to the Saturday Market’s monthly “A Fair of the Arts.”  I did, and enjoyed being an officially “artsy” market bag vendor for a time, while I worked through my vision problem.

It didn’t keep me away from the Bloomingfoods East Wednesday Market, though.  It’s accessible.  No queuing up, and waiting for the McCormick’s corn.  Jeff remembers the names of every single person he’s ever met (I’m sure of it).  There’s a cheerful, low-key, hard working midwest air about it.  Plus, you can finish your grocery shopping at Bloomingfoods.

Chester Lehman defines the 34-year collaboration between the health food store and the farm stands as “Mutually beneficial.”  Marcia Veldman explains it by saying, “Part of their mission is to support local farmers.”

Comanche brief bag

Comanche brief bag

I was grateful to be a vendor at the Wednesday Market.  And that explains the painting.

Art Works for Steve Corns

Steve Corns w:Cheyenne WarriorThe fine art of justice is one of the forces behind the work of Steve Corns.  Cheyenne Warrior, the pencil on masonite drawing shown here with the artist, is his way of honoring Native Americans and dishonoring the injustice he feels they endured.

Another powerful force behind his work is emotional.  His mother encouraged his artwork from his early childhood, by clearing the kitchen table each night, putting out drawing materials, and standing behind him to watch him work.  “She always said ‘Let’s do some art,’ but she never picked up a pencil,” he said.

Steve developed his work throughout his school years, and received the Outstanding Senior in Art award when he graduated from Owen Valley High School, in 1982.  By 1985, he began exhibiting his work and, within six years, started taking home reserve grand champion awards from the county fair—three, in all.  Today, as a member of the Owen County Art Guild’s Partners in Painting class, he continues to develop his talent and his attention to detail.

Winter Fury was done in painting class, on what Steve called a winter fury“double-dog” dare.  “Barb Bauer, my teacher,” he said, “challenged me to do a horse in full color pastels.  I took the dare, and did it in a week.”

Steve has developed his own technique for base, or ground coats, which he prefers because he likes using masonite as a work surface.  He explained that, when he uses gesso as a ground coat, it creates too slippery a surface for his preferred art mediums.  So, instead of gesso, he paints a flat latex paint—interior or exterior—onto the masonite, sometimes sanding between each of four coats to get the surface texture he prefers.  He’s used latex as a ground for the past twenty years, and reports no problems with the long-term stability of his artwork.

He started Flying Free in 1988, and three years later it won Steve flying freehis first reserve grand champion award.  His time for art became limited that year, because he’d joined Pony Express, a charitable organization devoted to helping injured children, and Terry McKnight’s Raiders, doing theatrical stagings of Old West themes, and he was also active in rodeos.  Then, when a tragic accident took his mother and younger brother in 1990, he put away his artwork forever—or so he thought.  Six months later, however, he felt his mother’s spirit pushing him to finish Flying Free.  He did, and entered it in the Owen County Fair.

Steve believes that he has a lot of his mother’s spirit stored inside him.  “She was Irish and Native American,” he said, “and I can still feel her standing behind me, watching me work.  It keeps me right, it keeps me going every day, doing my art.”

Two of the artworks by Steve Corns shown here are available for sale.  His work—including pieces on loan from private collections—is on exhibit through early August, 2013, at the Owen County Art Guild, 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, IN  47460.  He can be reached at 812-821-5387;  the guild’s phone number is  812-829-1877.

Art Works for Hailee Kinser

Hailee Kitty Painting and Pic-2

© Eric Howard

Hailee Kinser, seen here with her oil painting “Sleepy Kitty” and a photograph of the painting’s subject—her beloved, deceased pet—has a passion for cats.

Cats color her education and career goals, because her long-term objective is to become a feline veterinary specialist.  And cats figure in her more immediate goals, such as her Owen Valley High School Senior Expo project, a kind of thesis all graduating seniors must complete.

Hailee’s project, “Cats in Art,” revolves around her reseach into the physical and emotional therapeutic benefits possible from both cats and the Arts.  “Art can promote calming, healing reactions,” she said, “and I’ve realized that cats are therapeutic, too.”

“Sleepy Kitty” was the first painting she completed at the Owen DSCN1961County Art Guild class she attends, and it inspired the colors in “Bambi Meets Todd,” her oil on canvas, woods scene.  “I was attached to the various shades of green in Kitty’s eyes,” she said, “and hand-mixed the colors to get exactly what I wanted.”

Her tropics-inspired oil painting, entitled “Bearfoot Beach,” was named in honor of a family member, and represents DSCN1980another of Hailee’s explorations into color.  “I’m mostly focused on how people react to color—in artwork as well as in the environment,” she said.  “Color can have such a profound effect on people.”

Hailee’s portrait of her calico cat named “Kitty” will always be her favorite painting.  “Through all of life’s changes, Kitty was there for me,” she said.  “Even now, two years later, I still expect to see her sitting on the sunny corner of the bed.  It’s been healing for me, to immortalize my life-long friend in oils.

“Art has healed me,” Hailee said, “and I want to use my project, ‘Cats in Art,’ to persuade others that it can heal them, too.”

Hailee Nikole Kinser also works in chalk, pencil, and pastel, as well as in the performance and literary art fields.  Examples of her paintings can be found on exhibit and available for sale at the Owen County Art Guild.

She can be reached by e-mail at kittymay8@gmail.com or through the Owen County Art Guild, 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, IN  47460.  The guild’s phone number is  812-829-1877.