Combining high quality materials with careful design, local artisan Diane Harris crafts beautiful handbags and accessories to go with. We caught up with Diane and chatted about her artform, inspiration and how she's staying connected during the pandemic. Read on for our Q&A with Diane:
BDA: How would you describe what you create?
DH: I create leather handbags and accessories, and most recently, I started making masks that are adjustable and, you know, fit properly!
BDA: How long have you been practicing your craft?
DH: I've been working with leather for the past 10 years, but have been working on masks since March of this year. It took me two months to create a mask that works for everyone!
BDA: Awesome! With your signature handbag work, where did you learn or develop your technique?
DH: Over the years, with many trials and errors, I developed my own style of bags without following trends. It is still and always will be a skill that keeps evolving. There's always the "a-ha" moment or the second pair of eyes that might change how I've been making an item for years. I'm a firm believer in process improvement and challenging myself.
BDA: Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you and your artwork?
DH: When the pandemic hit and stopped the world, I knew luxury items wouldn't be flying off the shelves unless it resembled toilet paper. At first, panic set in that my livelihood was in jeopardy and I quickly found a job in a grocery store. I put my leather craft on hold and worked six days a week on the front line. I felt the need to help society in some small way and it worked for me and people were grateful.
BDA: Have you made any new projects or crafts since the pandemic?
DH: I have been selling my leather goods for the last 5 years at the Issaquah Farmers Market and they were only allowed to sell essential goods at that time. That's when I asked them If I could sell my masks. After them approving me, as I was the only craft they allowed to sell, I was on my way! I quit the grocery store and have sold about 1,200 masks at the market since the middle of June.
BDA: What is your latest project?
DH: Simultaneously while working in the grocery store I started working on making masks. I knew there had to be a better mask out there than what I was seeing at the store and watching newscasters have them falling off their faces reporting.
BDA: Where can people learn more and purchase your crafts?
DH: I currently sell masks at the Issaquah Farmer's Market every Saturday. This keeps me so busy I can barely keep up the demand. I also have an Etsy page for my handbags, and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog is part of our new blog series: heART of Bellevue. As an alternative to the 6th Street Arts Fair, the BDA – in partnership with Amazon - will feature local artists who would have participated in this year’s festival. Support all of our artists who were going to participate in this year’s fair by browsing their artwork and portfolios on our website.