Category: Handbags

Bahia Art Handbags – the how and where …..

Firstly, its been a long time since our last post…. but we have been inundated with ribbon orders.  We are now printing personalized labels, name tags etc.  If you want a special message for a birthday, wedding or any special handmade goodies contact us with your ideas and we will see if we can put them on our cotton ribbon for you.  With that said, on to our main purpose for this post ….

I am going to take you through the steps of making a Bahia Art handbag.

We start off by buying plain fabrics, either pre-dyed or in their natural state, which is either cream or white.  We then dye them with fibre-reactive dye by hand.  Now there are various methods of doing this.  We can dye the pieces in a dye vat over heat, which is what we do quite often for achieving flat colours.  For the purpose of this post I am going to use the Shibori technique which is very exciting to do.  Hard and tedious work, but exciting.

Bahia Art Michele Hamman Screenprinting handprinted natural cotton ribbon textile designer

After choosing our method we stitch, bind or fold our fabric.  I have decided to stitch mine and gather it all up and then put it in the dye bath and leave it there for a few hours.  It is then rinsed under running water, the stitches are then removed (and half of the wow moment was experienced) and then washed by machine to get rid of all the excess dye.  It is only then that the real WOW moment comes to light.

Michele Hamman handprinted and dyed fabrics Dundee Bahia Art

When completely dry it is back to the drawing board to decide what else to do with the piece of fabric.  Most of the time I silk screen some designs to enhance the overall look of the “handbag-to-be”  I like to make one of a kind bags and keep it exclusive by making only one of each.  Our methods might be the same but colour combinations and pattern combinations are never the same.

Michele Hamman Bahia Art handprinted cotton ribbons dyed fabrics DundeeMichele Hamman Bahia art handprinted and dyed fabric screenprinted tote bag

Our NEW design Tote bags are going to be less formal and a bit to the casual side but still exclusive to our high standard of manipulating the fabric to its full potential to bring you a high quality, very neatly 100% handmade handbag.

We are busy with a new batch of handbags and will post as soon as we are done.

Bahia Art – A Husband’s Opinion

Michele working with her screen prints another fabulous piece of hand printed textile soon to see the light. Bahia Art Dundee
Labouring away…

Well, we knew that we were moving to the sticks, so to speak, but we had no inkling that it would inspire one of the brightest sparks that I have ever seen. We built a studio for Michele when we moved here almost nine years ago, as she was an ardent potter at the time. No novice either, as she had produced some of the most stunning ceramic pieces it was ever my good luck to see and experience.

The SA Ceramics Regional Exhibition in Durban thought so, too. Something else was missing, however, Michele was not a trained textile designer for nothing, it seemed. The next aware moment I had, was of her starting to fiddle with bag patterns, bag making bibles and a mindboggling array of textile samples, paint pots, brushes (many, many brushes…!!) and long, mind-numbing hours of reading technical manuals. Ok, so the first successful handbag did not exactly pounce on us like a hungry tiger, panting to be released. We were sitting in Dundee, in the back of beyond in Kwazulu-Natal, remember…?

Many frustrating phone calls, negotiating with supremely unsympathetic suppliers, who wanted us to buy everything in bulk and then ship it in to Dundee, started to nag at me, breeding all kinds of suspicions that they do not want small studios to succeed. We wanted a bag of D-rings, but they said we must buy 500 of them. We wanted 50 metres of natural cotton fibre, but they said we must take a 1000 meters. Minimum order, you see…? But this girl of mine persevered. She camped on the internet and the phone, and bought every book and magazine she could lay her hands on. The little Internet shop was her dream. She had stars in her eyes when that first bag appeared on the table, and what a thing of beauty it was. Twenty bags later, and a long slog on the computer (we were still pretty much feeling our way through WordPress ) we had all the bags on the website.

The clock was creeping towards midnight. She looked at me and said she wanted to check her email. just quickly, mind you. There was the first bag order. Sitting in the inbox, smiling at us. The next morning there were many more, and before sundown that next day, all the bags were gone. Wow…!!! The respect began to grow in me, but I said nothing, at first. Trouble began to manifest itself in the shape of capricious suppliers, who changed the rules with every single order. This led to more frustration, and new plans. Back to the Internet, and she started to strike gold, albeit only temporary in some respects. You would get the most beautiful cotton fibre ribbon from a supplier with the first order, and with the next one they would very prissily inform you that they are no longer keeping that ribbon. Silk screen-printing was a familiar old friend, and Michele soon began to print her own ribbons. I stood in the door of the studio and watched, with my jaw dropping lower and lower with every batch that came out from under that little woman’s hands. She though of sending a letter and some pictures to the Ideas magazine.

She did write a letter to TUIS, the Afrikaans version of the Home magazine, sending them a picture of her beautifully printed little ceramic tiles. The Idea submission fell though the cracks, but we did make contact with them later, and then the gods of Fortune smiled upon Bahia Art for the very first time. Both the Ideas and TUIS magazine came out with her tiles and bags, and that at the same time….!!!! The response was one of awe. We started running with bag orders, and people started writing about her. I watched from the sidelines, a non-combatant in this eternal war of publicity. Michele was working like a demon to satisfy all the environmental factors that now impinged upon her personal bubble. We had to look for new sowing machines. The eternal capitalist battle with the competition, whom I still think sucks big time, if you compare the utter quality of Michele’s work, down to the minutest  detail, was only just beginning. No band of formerly disadvantaged personalities sitting on the shop floor, stitching bag skeletons together yet. No cooks or bottlewashers. just Michele, a few printing screens, hundreds of detailed little colourful minutiae, a bullterrier, tons of textiles, infinitesimal patience and good old-fashioned talent. You go, girl…!!!!!   Thank you kindly for reading our post. Please feel free to comment, and find us on Facebook.   Michele can be found on or on the attached Facebook link. Go subscribe to the newsletter now and don’t miss an update again   Johannes…..

Bahia Art’s Blog: Ons kreatiewe proses vir ons handsakke

Die buitekante van ons nuwe batch handsakke is klaar gemaak (Fotos op ons Facebook blad)   Ek begin hier die proses dokumenteer waar ons die screens regkry om die voerings te screen.  Soos julle weet gebruik ons 100% katoen vir ons voerings.  Ons handsakke is uniek in die sin dat ons net een van elk maak.

Soos julle sal sien is dit ‘n redelike proses om die voltooide handsak gereed te hê vir verkoop.  Geniet dus en weet dat as julle ‘n Bahia Art handsak koop is dit kwaliteit en met GROOT liefde gemaak.  Die kreatiewe proses is vir my net so belangrik want dit voed die siel en om vreugde te gee aan ander is ook groot lekkerte vir die siel.


Michele Hamman Bahia Art Dundee handprinted fabrics natural cotton ribbons ceramics

Hier is ek besig om die screen uit te spuit.  Die patroon, wat ek gaan screen, is klaar onder ligte vasgelê op die screen.

Michele Hamman Bahia Art Dundee handprinted fabrics natural cotton ribbons ceramics

Hier is die klaar patroon.  Ek los die screen om droog te word en dan is dit die volgende stap …. die screen van die lap.

Bahia Art’s Blog: Our natural cotton and linens are one of a kind…

Michele Hamman Bahia Art Dundee handprinted fabrics natural cotton ribbons ceramicsBahia Art’s handbags are all handmade exclusively, by Michele, who also handprints the cotton and linen she uses in the bags. Every bag starts it life in our studio as a few squares of natural cotton fibre or linen, which are then printed by hand, with Michele’s own designs. Some of the bags have leather bottoms and handles, which are also handmade by Michele. No attachment or accessory is store-bought. We do not make two of the same bags ever, and each bag that goes out, is unique in every way.


Michele Hamman Bahia Art Dundee handprinted fabrics natural cotton ribbons ceramicsThe same applies to our natural cotton ribbons. All are printed by hand, with Michele’s own in-house designs. Hours are spent to get the artwork just right for each customer. A special thanks to our customers who take the time to read here, and please do visit our Facebook page as well.