Belle Armoire Magazine Article - May/June 2010

Full Circle Inspiration - By Beth Drucker

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I made and sold my first handbag when I was 13 years old. It was the "Summer of Love" circa 1967, and Decoupage Lunch Pails were all the rage. I was staying with my grandparents for the summer in upstate New York, and the "Hippie" influence was everywhere. I had just been accepted to the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, and was impatient to begin designing. I decided to make a Lunch Pail Handbag, similar to ones I had seen in the streets. So I walked to the local hardware store on Main Street and bought a metal lunch pail and some Orange shellac. I began tearing up magazines and worked non-stop. My Grandfather Hyman helped with the construction and supplies, while Grandma Rose acted as my sales agent. That was it. I was hooked on handbags, and one-of-a-kind pieces. What amazing experience. I made $150 that summer. I was doing what I loved, with my biggest supporters and fans: my grandparents. My grandmother was a Master knitter, and my grandfather worked in the textile business, so let's just say this passion for creating runs in the family.When I began my felting adventure about six years ago, my grandmother was in her nineties and still my creative inspiration. At that time I was doing Artisan Craft Shows with a group of fellow artists, and was introduced to felting by a friend. I loved the way felted wool could be made into any shape or form, so I began experimenting. I called Grandma, and told her what I was doing. She was so excited, and eager to help. I spoke to her every week, bombarding her with questions - I couldn't believe how much she remembered. After experimenting with different kinds of fiber, and reading various books on felting and fiber, I began designing. The entire experience felt like it was meant to be. How amazing to be able to learn a new way of using fiber and work with my friends and colleagues in the arts community along with my grandmother as a guide to produce a new line. I quickly accumulated a collection of wools both commercially made and hand spun, and the design ideas flooded in. Since I am always inspired by the materials around me, I like to surround myself with the stuff while I create new designs. Nothing is sacred. I use anything available in my pieces if it works visually. Old Keys, buttons, or fabrics, anything goes.I now use my knowledge and experience in fiber arts and felting to continue my design work, and share it with my college and high school students and colleagues. This way I can design and teach, my two favorite things to do. Thanks Gram and Gramps. What a trip.View more of Beth Drucker's work at


Beth Drucker