The daughter of Italian immigrant farmers in Santa Clara Valley, I grew up
in the trees - a cherry and prune orchard. I learned how to graft trees
before I was 10 and spent many happy childhood hours playing in the
sawdust in my father's woodworking shop. I have always been a maker,
spending time as a potter, a floral designer, a writer and a lamp maker.
Although my greatest joy has been in working with my hands, in the 70s I
was a high school writing teacher, and then practiced law (but never quite
got it right). I returned to wood when my Father died in 2002 and I
inherited his 1940s Delta lathe.
Immersing myself in the world of woodturners, I was surrounded by men
and I learned a great deal from many of them. Although I made and sold
many many heirloom bowls and other traditional turnings, I found that I
was increasingly drawn to the work after the bowl was turned. I was greatly
influenced by the woodburning and coloration of Andi Wolfe, the
geometric patterns of Alan Stirt, the carving and waxing of Betty Scarpino,
the surface textures of Meryll Saylan and the layered bowls of Jim
One day, at a crafts fair, I saw a woman carrying a small wooden bandsaw
box as a purse. Almost immediately I comprehended the endless
possibilities of making handbags from turned wooden forms. I was drawn
by the fact that this was an area of woodturning that the leagues of male
woodturners had not explored. It could be mine.
The challenge involved in designing and creating each bag consumed me. I
enjoyed the fact that making a wooden handbag involved not only
turning, but also other woodworking skills, leather and metal work. I
carried a sketch pad and manipulated forms in my mind endlessly.
I intend each bag not only to be a piece of art, but also as a highly
functional object. It has to be not only graceful and lightweight, but also
sturdy; it must be not only pleasing to the touch, but also wearable and
not easily marred. It has to be large enough to be useful, but shaped to
please the eye and nestle comfortably against the body.
My friends, used to seeing me with a chainsaw in the back of my car and
woodshavings in my hair, cannot imagine me in the world of fashion.
Neither can I. I wear sensible shoes. My handbags start with the warmth
of wood, craftsmanship and mischief. My goal is for them to delight and
surprise those who see and touch them. I want someone who carries one
of my bags to feel compelled to look at it a couple of times during the
day, and to get great pleasure from doing that.