Barbara Sterchele

Oh yes, old friend, I remember you

We all have a special place in our hearts for our favorite books, how they stirred our imagination, and oh the hours playing game boards on family nights, how they bring back heartfelt memories.

I design and create upcycle handbags from recycled books and game boards. I enjoy creating a second life for these unwanted items and turning them into a functional item instead of ending their life in a landfill. In addition, using these recycled items I am creating an opportunity to bring the story to life again as well as invoke memories and provide a great conversation starter. It is all about connection for me.

I love searching at flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales for unwanted books and game boards. I resurrect these forgotten unwanted books and game boards to create and design a unique upcycled handbag or tote bag. 

So how did I get started?

Over the years, I read many memorable stories to my three children and every Friday was family game night. I have many joyous memories with my family! Now my children are adults and I am an empty-nester. Before my three children entered my life, I spent many hours painting and making artistic crafts, so I wanted to create and have an artistic hobby once again.

I graduated with a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design in 1983. My professional career has included working for advertising agencies and design studios; then starting my own graphic design business. As a graphic designer in the advertising promotion business my design work has a limited life-span. I want to see artwork live on and not be discarded once its main purpose has expired; therefore, I started my new artistic endeavor. I started by making a few handbags for friends and my adult children and their friends. A buzz started wherever I, my kids or friends went with the handbags. I was at a show, and a writer of children’s books asked me to make a customized handbag for her from her published book, which she uses to promote her book. Another person received a Tinker Bell handbag as a birthday gift from my daughter and while on vacation at Disneyland she had Tinker Bell autograph it. In addition, a person purchased an older Mickey Mouse handbag because her friend was an illustrator for Disney many years ago. It is amazing the connections these handbags can make.

Designing and creating these handbags conserves existing resources, lessens the need for new materials, and reduces the number of unwanted items being discarded. RECYCLE -UPCYCLE