Friday, August 5, 2016

♥ an interview with Richela Fabian Morgan of Duct Tape Bags!

back in my highschool days, i remember my brother making a wallet out of duct tape
and i thought that it was the most novel invention: a simple billfold made out of
several strips of tape. over the years, i have seen prom dresses made out of
duct tape, lady gaga's caution tape look- but nothing of the quality that
  richela fabian morgan has shared in her latest book, duct tape bags!

i had the chance to ask this fabulous author & duct tape artist a few questions
and to share some of her easy tutorials, if you care to read below!

A GLIMPSE OF GLAMOUR: The quote at the beginning of the book: "Bags are some of my favorite things. I feel I should have the right to own as many of them as I want. Why? Because they make me happy." is a statement that I am sure, will really resonate with readers!  Do you believe there is a value in making your own bags from scratch- and is there a bigger sense of accomplishment and pride in making your own accessories, rather than buying them?

RICHELA FABIAN MORGAN: I'm a huge fan of handmade goods, and believe handmade is better than store-bought. So, of course, I believe there is a value in making your own bags from scratch. 

Any time you make own accessory, there is a conscious choice to participate in the design. Even if you follow the instructions exactly as written, you are deciding how it's made, and of course you should be proud of it. 

AGOG: Duct tape is an amazing medium to work in. It is both flexible and resilient- strong and forgiving: what inspired you to start working with it in the first place? Do you feel more ethical wearing bags made of duct tape vs. bags made of leather?

RFM: I started working with duct tape because of my kids. We were at our local hardware store and saw a stack of colored tape: red, blue, yellow, white, and black. It looked like fun! This was almost 10 years ago. At first we only covered things with tape: jars, cans, cords, and book covers. Then we began sticking it to itself, making larger pieces that we could cut. After that, it just took off.

I won’t lie: I love leather bags. But when I make a bag with duct tape, I know that it’s an affordable alternative to leather. Duct tape makes fashion affordable. I also feel like MacGyver (80’s television show—mullet—can get out of any situation with just a paper clip and some duct tape). And when people compliment me on my bag, my heart swells with pride. No one ever says, “ I love your duct tape bag.” No one knows it’s duct tape unless I offer up that little tidbit. My bags are judged not by the material but by the design.  

AGOG:  From ruffles to fringe to ruching and weaving- it appears there is nothing you cannot do with duct tape. How long did it take for you to realize that you could bend duct tape to your will?? What is the most amazing piece that you have made using duct tape? 

RFM: Again, my kids have been the ones who made me challenge what duct tape can do. When she was in the first grade, I started a crafting club for my daughter and her friends. (They are entering sophomore year in high school and sadly do not craft with me any longer.) Our initial interest was working with recycled materials, but quickly turned to duct tape. Whenever one of the girls would ask me if she could make something out of duct tape (hat, vest, bouquet of flowers, earrings, shoes, etc), I would say, “Well, anything is possible. Let’s give it a try.” And soon we realized that we could substitute duct tape whenever fabric or paper was the intended material for a craft. 

For the last 2 years I’ve used duct tape to make art. I recently made a portrait of my kids that measures 40” wide by 36” high.

I also made a kick-butt gold mask for Halloween once. I loved that mask. I also lost that mask. I imagine some appreciative person found it and gave it a nice home. I hate to think of the alternative (trash can, landfill…) The only photo I have of it was an Instagram shotSo sad. 

AGOG: Your tutorials range from Easy to Moderate to Challenging, and are arranged in no particular order throughout the book. I find it exciting to know that there isn't one part of the book that is just Easy, one part that is just Moderate, etc. Was it your decision to keep the easy- hard ratio mixed throughout? What would you say is the best tutorial to start with if you are completely new to working  with duct tape?

RFM: The first list of bags that I handed in to my editor was organized by bag type--I forgot to indicate the level. My editor did notice that they were missing and asked me to write them in. When she saw that they were all mixed up in each section, she liked it. It was serendipity!
Smaller bags are easier to make, like the clutches and wristlets in the beginning of the book. For the newly initiated, it’s important to first do the tutorial HOW TO MAKE A DUCT TAPE FABRIC. You can use the dimensions for the very first bag project SUMMER FLING in the Clutch & Wristlet section. If you are an experienced paper crafter (origami, collagist), making pleats for SUMMER FLING won’t be an arduous task. But know that you can skip the pleats at first try, and it will still be a pretty fantastic bag.

AGOG: Can you take a picture of the duct tape bag/wallet/ clutch you are currently wearing and show us the contents of that bag?  How long will duct tape handbags live if treated properly? What is your oldest bag?

My latest bag is my summer bag: a black and powder pink handbag. I was inspired by the logo of a television station I was doing a segment on (Fox News)

I currently have the following in my bag: 
 - lip liner and lip gloss (L’Oreal)
 - 2 duct tape bracelets that my niece made me
 - sunglasses (Maui Jim)
 - ballpoint pen I “accidentally” took from a local restaurant (it has a great stylus on one end—perfect for texting)
 - a plastic cork for champagne that a friend gave me (you never know when you might be drinking champagne…)
 - change purse
 - random business cards from a flea market I recently attended

My oldest bag is a messenger bag with Tom Cruise’s face on it. I made it 5 years ago. I used it a lot and it hasn’t fallen apart.

AGOG:  What are the key items that a new duct tape artist should have in their arsenal before they even begin? What kind of work space is needed?

The key tools are: craft knife with replacement blades (I use #11 blades), a good pair of scissors, a self-healing cutting mat, a cork-backed metal ruler, ballpoint pen, china marker, pencil, and parchment paper. It’s always good to use a large table when you are working, like the kitchen or dining room table. Keep your tools in a tackle box or an art box for a quick clean up.

I recommend storing all tape in a clear plastic bin or large plastic ziploc bag. If you leave the tape rolls out, the sticky edges can attract dust. 

And wipe all the blades of your craft knife and/or scissors with an oil-soaked paper towel or rag. This will keep the sticky gunk from accumulating on the blades, which make it difficult to cut the tape.

AGOG:  I love head pieces!!! If you have any other floral hair accessories, I would love to see/share them!

RFM: I love making and wearing fascinators, too. I recently made a white lotus flower with a fuchsia stem.

AGOG: You make many things from duct tape- are handbags your favorite because they are essentially, wearable art?

RFM: Yes! I love creating imagery with tape, and the best way to display it (other than hang it on a wall) is on a bag. 

AGOG: Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers regarding your latest book/duct tape adventures?

RFM: One last and very personal thing: my journey as a duct tape artist began with my kids, specifically my daughter. Because of her, I started making all these lovely crafts with duct tape. She’s grown into a beautiful teenager. I use her a lot to model my stuff, and when it came time to shoot the photos for my book, I had to include her. So she is the skater chick with the dramatic eyes. I love her! And she will always be my source of inspiration. :)

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