This morning there was an article in the paper about a woman who creates ‘knockoffs’ of designer handbags out of yarn.She does this in crochet.

The closest I have come to counterfeiting is when I jeweled this ‘Louis Vuitton’ purse.

I don’t know if you can see on the photo, but my nail tips are also LV design.

I had seen many Judith Leiber handbags at Neiman Marcus. The prices were in the thousands (as in $5000 and up) and so I decided to learn this craft myself. I made about ten different designs, but this one is my Pride and Joy.

They are not cheap to make. First you have to take a class on how to do this. Then buy the purse frame, which is anywhere from $50-$100. Depending on the size, you will need about four or five packets of jewels. Each packet has ten gross (1440). Each packet costs $55-$60.

Each stone has to be glued on by hand, one at a time. (Oh, I forgot the cost of the glue) 527 Bond is $6 a tube and you will need at least two tubes per project.

So figure about $400 plus your time. Still less than 1/10th the cost of buying one. And you have an original.  (Now to learn how to crochet a purse)

Here is a reprint of the article in today’s Star Bulletin Advertiser. If you go to the website, you can download FREE patterns.

And the cost of a purse can’t be much more than a couple of skeins of yarn and a crochet hook or two. Maybe $20 tops. (Plus a How to Crochet Book)

Crafty counterfeiters

A project encourages crocheters to copy designer handbags as a statement on consumerism

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 21, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 03:38 a.m. HST, Jun 21, 2012

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COURTESY ZKM
The Counterfeit Crochet Project aims to provoke thought about commerce and consumerism by making and sharing crocheted variations of designer handbags, such as Katie Furuyama’s knockoff of the Louis Vuitton Murakami Papillon Bag. The real bag is inset below. Far left, founder Stephanie Syjuco, in the red dress, leads a group of crocheters at the ZKM Center of Art and Media Technology in Germany.

Stephanie Syjuco has never succumbed to the idea of the status handbag, but so many do that she decided to address the phenomenon through art.

With some yarn and a crochet needle, she created the “Counterfeit Crochet Project (a critique of a political economy),” coming up with her own homespun versions of designer handbags, which she uploaded to a website (www.counterfeitcrochet.org) she started for all the world to see, share and imitate.

COUNTERFEIT CROCHET PROJECT

Art exhibit and workshops by Stephanie Syjuco:» Where: Pegge Hopper Gallery, 164 Nuuanu Ave.
» Opening reception: 5-8 p.m. June 29

» Free workshops: 2-5 p.m. Wednesday (beginners) and June 28 (advanced); 3-5 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. (advanced) June 29; 2-5 p.m. June 30 (open to all). No crochet experience required; materials provided.

ALSO AT ‘FIND ART: CELEBRATING COMMUNITY + CREATIVITY’ FESTIVAL

» T-shirt silk-screening with artist Carolyn Castano, 1-4 p.m. June 30, Smith-Beretania Urban Park. Bring shirt ($5 silk-screen fee) or buy one at the event ($10).

» “Art & Flea,” 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 30, Smith-Beretania Urban Park, with 50-plus vendors selling vintage and handmade jewelry, clothing, more
» Info: www.findartfestival.com

The San Francisco-based conceptual artist studied sculpture before heading to graduate school for her master of fine arts degree at Stanford University.”I was interested in how crafts and the D.I.Y. movement were gaining attention,” said Syjuco, who longed to come up with a project that would connect with the community beyond the insular arts world and thought she’d found it in the realm of fashion and the craft of crochet.

“Crochet is something I picked up, just generally, and I got better at it as I went along. It’s something that anyone can learn, and it’s much easier than knitting,” she said by phone from her home.

She started with a rough knockoff of a Chanel purse, and as she uploaded her finished works to her website, she was surprised by the immediate and enthusiastic response.

“It really started as an online project, but people started sending me their bags — not as a gift but to build a collection for an exhibition. It was really exciting to have them and see what people were doing.”

Results ranged from recognizable homages to lumpy mutations of the designer originals.

An exhibition of about 15 to 18 of the project’s counterfeits will take place at the Pegge Hopper Gallery beginning Wednesday. The event is part of the free “Find Art: Celebrating Community + Creativity” festival of art, music and do-it-yourself culture taking place from Wednesday to June 30 throughout Chinatown.

The first “Counterfeit Crochet Project” exhibition took place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Mission Street in San Francisco in 2008. Since then, the show has traveled to Beijing, the Philippines, Istanbul, Milan, London, Berlin and other places. Each exhibition is accompanied by workshops to help people pick up the skills to reclaim the “manufacturing” process.

“I just thought it was a great way to engage people,” Syjuco said. “We’re just surrounded by products, constantly, and surrounded by choices. We seem so far removed from the idea of making anything. Everything gets made in places very far away from us by anonymous people.”

The bags, she said, were a smoke screen to get people to think about larger social issues surrounding the realms of desire, black-market goods and consumerism, though she does not make any pronouncements on whether any aspect is good or bad. The issues are part of the interconnected scheme of global manufacturing, marketing, distribution, bootlegging and piracy matching supply with demand.

Syjuco said she did receive one cease-and-desist letter from Louis Vuitton’s corporate lawyers, but that hasn’t stopped her from continuing the project because none of the bags is intended for commercial use, none could be mistaken for the real thing, and they don’t stop people from coveting the real thing.

“I don’t give out patterns and everybody makes it up as they go along.”

It would be the ultimate irony if the corporations pick up on the movement and come up with their own crochet bags with luxury cachet. In a way, the Counterfeit Crochet bags are more exclusive than the bags they seek to mimic in their one-of-a-kind nature, unique to their maker. And, ironically, Syjuco, who was never interested in owning any designer handbags, has become something of an expert in the designs available in the marketplace, able to differentiate between an L.V. Murakami Cherry Blossom Papillon Bag and a Murakami Cerise Speedy.

She says she’s not immune to a certain kind of consumerism either.

“I shop in a reflective way. I like to buy a lot of books and look for vintage things.”

The purchase of counterfeits can be viewed as a misguided attempt to communicate and receive respect, with buyers more likely to be dismissed for carrying a fake than receiving the approval they are seeking. Syjuco is sympathetic to those who can only approximate a luxury lifestyle.

“It’s just their way of participating in and being part of a culture they admire. Everybody wants to be part of a group and shopping is a very social kind of event,” she said.

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