There have been a few vintage hilary johnson handmade bags floating around the workshop recently - some had belonged to Nish's mum; others had been hiding in cupboards for donkey's years. All of them were beautiful in their own way, but were looking a little bit tired perhaps.
So, what to do?
In Hilary's words - chop, slash and add dangly bits!
It was a revelation and a tiny bit exciting too - this well-loved tote used to have a very long strap and the edges had worn with years of constant use.
It was looking old and saggy, baggy and a bit loose at the seams (10 points to anyone of a certain age who recognises this description). Hilary didn't want to lose the patina of the leather - it had, after all, lived quite a life - so we didn't smother it in balm to take out all of the marks, and neither did we replace the front pocket flap to make it smooth. But Hilary did mend the split seams, added the new silver trims, removed the long strap and added a tassel. It's now a posh shopping bag ready to waft around Darts Farm and John Lewis.
And that was just the start. We found a couple of flat cross-body messenger bags in another cupboard. Now this style of bag is having a moment right now. We're a little bit in love with the very urban styles at Armani and Gucci and we've just made some of our own in gorgeously strokeable cow-hide.
This old one from the cupboard just needed a bit of bling which it duly received.
And then the frenzy started. Old Christmas lights, wrapping paper, souvenir tea towels and back issues of the Chulmleigh Old Fair programme came flying out of the cupboards upstairs (by the way, well done George from year 7 Chulmleigh Community College for winning the competition to create this year's cover - love the Lichtenstein-esque design. Chulmleigh Old Fair is on from 24th - 29th July this year and it's going to be fantastic - we can't wait!)
Soon we had quite a pile of bags to play with and so now we're busy re-working them into something new. It does feel a bit like we've stepped into Aladdin's cave.
Watch this space for more examples, and in the meantime, if you fancy making a few changes to your old bag let us know. It's like being given a lovely new present.
And in other news, check out Hilary's new range of equine neck straps as modelled by Arnie (he's going for the Mr T look and wearing multiple versions in this picture). Lots of different colours available - please get in touch for more details.
And absolutely finally we have our gorgeous friend Sarah modelling her new bespoke handbag (major brownie points to her husband for buying her such a fabulous birthday present). Now Sarah can pull off the sultry model look with ease but having seen the grin on her face in this shot we couldn't resist choosing a smiley pic instead!
PS apologies to anyone trying to look at individual bags on our website - the internet pixies have surreptitiously added an annoying glitch - we are working on it and full service will resume soon.