I just finished producing my latest batch of fourteen “Look at That” Art Pouches that are, wait for it, big enough to hold your cell phone! Yes, I caved!
Back story: I invented these pouches a few years ago, to address the challenge inherent in sketching or painting while standing on location, especially in a crowd. Too much juggling!
“The fewer supplies you bring along with you, the more time you’ll have to pause, ponder, gaze, then begin sketching. You won’t waste time wondering which pen to use because you were smart enough to only bring two, not twelve. Your most expensive art supply is Time. Use it wisely.”
-page 14, “Look at That! – Discover the Joy of Seeing by Sketching”
No more reaching into multiple pockets, fumbling for a different pen, only to come up with a pencil or brush instead! I intentionally made the original Look at That! Art Pouches narrow so they’d only hold a couple pens and a water-brush, nothing more. The thing is though, in my book I also say it’s a good idea to take a photograph of your subject matter before you start to sketch, because you never know when you’ll be interrupted or your view will be suddenly blocked by a newly parked car or even a person. So you see I knew all along that a cell phone is also an essential art supply. I was just being curmudgeonly, not wanting to admit it.
All of these pouches, the original as well as the larger version, are designed, handwoven, and sewn by yours truly. I had quite a lot of narrow handwoven fabric on hand when I decided on this design change, so I had to figure out how to utilize it while also widening the pouches. This new version would need to be sturdy throughout as well as accommodate most cell phones. The solution: reinforced grosgrain ribbon.
The top openings on the original pouches were 2″ to 3.5″ wide. The new Ribboned Pouches range from 3.75″ to 4.25″ wide, ample space for many cell phones as well as a pen or two.
These new “Ribboned Art Pouches” require considerably more work to produce (21 steps each rather than 13), and I’m very pleased with how they’ve turned out. All of the Art Pouches, whether the original design or the wider Ribboned Pouches, are fully lined and have sturdy 2-ply satin neck cords. The Ribboned Pouches feature grosgrain ribbon edging that has been reinforced with fusible interfacing to give the ribbon extra body.
I’m always glad to have a chance to use my 1949 Singer Model 301 sewing machine, the very same machine I used back in 7th grade “home ec.” class when I was a young girl. Nowadays, every time I go through the steps to gently open the cabinet top, tilt out the machine, then finish setting it up, it feels like a slow dance of muscle memory, time travel, and gratitude. My own version of a Japanese tea ceremony.
The gratitude I feel every time is for my luck in having had a mom who was so effortlessly, compulsively, creative that I never was intimidated by drawing or sewing or weaving or painting. It became the most natural thing in the world for a girl like me to do day or night.
Family folklore always said the machine had been a wedding present to my mom in 1949. As it turns out, the Model 301 was only sold from 1951 to 1952 , the years when my brother and I were born, so in truth this may have been a motherhood present instead!
Regardless, my initial research took me down several delightful rabbit holes, including this description of “The Revolutionary Singer Model 301 Slant-Needle Sewing Machine.” The fascinating link is here.
I’ll leave you with some photos of the work I’ve been doing these last few weeks, and a link to my Etsy site here. Note: the original version of the pouches remains $28 plus shipping, and I’m charging $35 for the new larger version. Each pouch takes several hours to weave, sew, and assemble, and I want it to be as affordable as possible.
Each pouch also comes with a brief “owner’s manual” where I share my suggestions for a good basic kit and how to stay inspired to sketch.
I hope you’ll think of all the artists on your holiday and birthday shopping lists, as well as people who may simply be looking for a hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind phone pouch for easy-access photography adventures! Yet another way to “Look at That!”
Feel free to forward this post to anyone you think might enjoy it. Questions? Comments? Public comments can be posted below, private questions, etc. will reach me by using the Contact button on the menu at the top. As always, thanks for spending some “aloft” time with me.
Very interesting to read about your sewing machine! Lovely that you have such a fascinating family history to it as well. My mother, 80, still has her own mother’s Singer sewing machine as well, a perfectly working 1916 model! I also enjoyed researching more about these long-lasting machines while marvelling at two great ladies in my family managing to keep this machine in such great condition for so many years. 1916 was a very turbulent time here in Ireland, so this machine surviving all those years, and many, many house moves, emigrations and disasters is a little miracle really. Anyway thanks for sharing that story, I really enjoyed reading it. I love your blog by the way, I printed out a post you wrote some time ago on “why giving up doesn’t work”; it really resonated with me on the particular day I read it, and it gave me a much needed lift. Thanks for all the great articles and keep up the great work! Many best wishes from Ireland xx
Thanks so much Celia. I visited Ireland just once, in 1979, and have family from there as well. Being the keeper of stories is such a privilege, right? Loved hearing about your family’s Singer as well. 👏👍