When I first bumped into Jennifer Guthrie's work on Etsy, I was impressed by her unique looking bags. When I took a closer look, I realized that these sweet designs were translated using repurposed materials, such as thrifted suit coats, they became even better. "Here's a girl after my own heart, trolling the thrift stores in search of wool" I thought. But when I received one of these repurposed lovelies, I was really blown away by the quality and details. That was about two years ago and in the meantime I've had the opportunity to get to know Jennifer a bit and I'm sure you'll find her every bit as interesting as I do.
Tell me about you:
This is all wonderful and charming, until you need a yard of fabric....and have to drive an hour to the closest Quilt Supply Store. Lucky for me the 2 closest towns boast a total of 5 thrift shops! This has encouraged me to consider the wonders of Repurposing!
What do you make?
In a nutshell I take a men’s blazer and make a bag, then from the scraps I make checkbook covers, electronic devise cozies, and card cases, then from the scraps I make flower pins.
Is there a particular theme in your work?
Even though I am mostly working with mens’ suits, I think my theme is still pretty much NATURE. No matter what you do to wool, it is still natural. It has a feel, a smell, and behaves like a natural thing. It feels fitting to me to applique a bird to a woolen “lapel” pocket on one of my bags.
Where do you find inspiration?
Living where I do the things on my mind tend to be the animals outside and the plants growing, or even those I wish to grow. I just love those big red asian poppies, but with little sun, I am forced to be satisfied with bright red poppies on my bags! The memory of Squirrel chatter might urge me to applique a little squirrel to an Oak & Acorn themed bag. Thinking of my childhood in So. Cal. collecting snail friends has inspired several snail themed bags and accessories! I am so surprised my customers love them as I do! Finally I am inspired by my horse, Twister. Without her, and the costs associated with keeping a horse, I might not have to work so hard. I have met so many horse lovers & keepers through the sales of my “Twister” themed bags, whose compliments and words of encouragement help keep me moving right along!
What do you love about what you do?
Since I was in High School, I have loved thrift store shopping. I was fortunate enough to have friends, and friends’ mothers who loved thrift store shopping too... so we did it a lot! My “job” allows me to say to my dear husband, “Hey, my suit stock is low... we really need to make a run to “Savers.” (one of the bigger stores we frequent). And he makes it happen! I get to go to thrift stores with my husband, and he goes willingly!
Tell me about a favorite piece that you’ve made.
My favorite thing I have made is one of my bags. I found this very old nubby wool ladies’ blazer at the thrift shop. I guessed it to be from the 40s or 50s. It was thread bare at the edges, it had a few moth holes and had been repaired many times. I loved it! It was clear that this jacket was loved and needed by whoever had taken such care to preserve it’s functionality. Even the satin lining inside had wandering hem around the edge, where it had frayed and the owner tried to save it. It was the perfect material for one of my bags. It is so satisfying giving even a tired jacket like this, another life of usefulness.
What do you do when you’re not creating?
Growing up in Southern California, I never got much closer to horses than the posters that covered my wall and the books my grandmother sent. When we moved here, where horses are on every corner, becoming a real life “horsewoman” was actually a possibility! I currently spend most of my free time at our local college which boasts an awesome equine studies department. I take a class every semester and work on my lack of skills...Darn this whole fear thing! But it is a hobby and I love every minute of it! The kids spend a lot of time there too. They have been taking weekend & summer classes for 4 years now.
A favorite quote, a good recipe, a funny story?
I love this Baxter Black (Cowboy Poet) quote:
“Don’t be what you gotta be, to live where you wanna live. Live where you gotta live to be what you gotta be.”
How can people find you?
I feel like I am everywhere! I currently sell on Etsy at http://www.pineblossoms.com/ I keep pictures on Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/pineblossoms and I have a blog http://www.blossominginthepines.blogspot.com/ . I just started a Facebook fan page which I am just figuring out. Somehow I already have a few fans, which is pretty exciting!
Jennifer also loves to cook, and claims she cooks as she sews...without patterns. :)