Artists and thinkers coming together to promote fine crafts, innovation, and honest sustainability.

The best and brightest artists and thinkers coming together to promote fine crafts, original thought, and honest sustainability.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Weekly Featured Artist & GIVEAWAY: Scabby Robot (aka Jill Harrell)

Name: Jill Harrell
Business name: Scabby Robot
The Basics:
Jill sews all of her work on a vintage 1958 Slant-o-matic. Together they create one-of-a-kind functional sewn items: handbags, wallets, soft accessories. Favorite materials are leather and heavy denim.

In 2003 Jill earned her degree in industrial design from CCAC in San Francisco. In 2006, she wiped the boogers from her eyes to see that her true passion was for one-off and small run designs, thus Scabby Robot was born!

(I quoted this directly in Jill's own words, because I thought it was so well put):
"Each piece created is an exercise in sincere play.
There is little premeditation in my work. I sit down at my machine, supplied with gorgeous materials, and connect them together with a lattice of freehand machine stitching. A curvy, zig-zagged, silly, sometimes backwards line of stitching travels across the surface of each piece.

Often as I sew I play and ponder the metaphor of that meandering linear path across a soft surface. I compare it to a pen stroke on a page, to a line of music, to one’s path from waking to sleeping. Sometimes the stitch path reverses on itself over and over as if caught in a loop. Sometimes the path has many stops and starts. Sometimes the path is straight and direct. And sometimes the thread breaks. Drat!

I know a piece is complete when I feel the balance of value, need, silliness, waste, durability, and function."

1.  What five words best describe you? 
straightforward, silly, shy, sharp, calm
2.  What five words best describe your work? 
touchable, luxurious, rustic, leather, architectural
3.  What was the very first art form you fell in love with, and, do you still do it? 
Woodcut printmaking. Gaw, I still love it, I miss it just thinking about it! The sound the tool makes on the wood is amazing. Don't worry printmaking, I'll be back.
4.   What was your very worst ‘real’ job? 
While I was in college, I temp'd at a real estate/mortgage bank one summer. I had to call realtors across the country to offer them properties in foreclosure. EVERYONE who worked there full time was a smoker. Depressing!!! 
5.   Is artwork your full-time life? 
Or, if not, are you planning to make it that way? If so, what’s your favorite part about being a full-time creative? Yes and yes. My handbags are full-time, though I have a part-time job to keep me rolling in health insurance (priceless). Hard to say when/if I'll go 100% handbags - I check in with myself every 6 months or so. I'm not convinced going 100% handbags will make me a happier person...
6.   What do you think is the single most important thing you could tell an artist just starting out?
I think the hardest thing is also the most rewarding thing. Challenge yourself to do the thing you (maybe secretly) LOVE. Even if you think you're crap at that thing, try it. Try it some more. You'll only know if you can do it, if you can get better at it, if you actually give it a try. It'll be fun!
7.   What is your favorite way to distribute your work (craft shows, online, galleries, etc…), and why?  
Right now, online is my favorite way as I can chat directly with my customers any time anywhere I have the internet. Wow, isn't the future amazing? 
8.   What are your five favorite blogs and/or websites?
Here are three of my favs:
Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist
Fluent Self
Dave Hill Internet Explosion
9.   Favorite artist?
Alexander Calder - love his wire sculpture
10.   Guilty pleasure?
That first cut on a new hide.
Last bite of mint chip ice cream - Strauss creamery mmmmmm.... my favorite

Jill has generously offered a spectacular Wedge Tote to a lucky one of my readers (can I be a reader this week?). The winner will have their choice of colors from Jill's available stock. Seriously people...this is ONE KILLER GIVEAWAY!  Check out the details on the winner's loot HERE

  • Go to Jill's Etsy page. Find your very favorite item. 
  • After that, come on back and leave a comment below telling us what your favorite item was and why (the 'why' is the part we really look for when deciding on a winner... so be creative!).
You may enter only once. The contest is open until 10pm Pacific time on the Monday following the original feature (so it's open for about six days). Winners will be posted on Tuesday morning, along with the new featured artist's piece. If you have any questions, please contact me, not the artist. 

IMPORTANT: If you want to be contacted (if you are the winner), you need to leave your email address in your comment (I suggest spelling out the @(at) and the .(dot) to avoid spam from internet crawlers, or you may also leave your Etsy screen name, if applicable. If you don't leave either, you need to check back and contact me by the Friday following the contest ending to see of you won, and will need to email me (see Winner's Box in the upper right sidebar).
Please note: The winner is chosen by me and the featured artist based on your make 'em good! We make no claims that the selection is random:) It is between you and the featured artist to coordinate the getting of your loot. I make no personal guarantees about time-frame for delivery, value, or condition of the winning item. 

~~~ Last Week's Winner: Lorin D. Please get in touch to claim your winnings! ~~~


heels said...

I would be ridiculously hard-pressed to choose a favorite, because the Wedge Tote offered as the prize looks amazing (I love that rich color and the "distressed," more natural-looking leather), but I have a weakness for things that are that Anemone color. Likely, I would use the Cedar color more (and I did, in fact, realize this past weekend, as I was headed out the door to a function, that I have NO brown handbags!), but the Anemone is just so lovely... *sigh* Also, I really love the idea of a zip-pouch that would be long enough to accommodate my larger paint brushes, as I normally end up wrapping them in paper towel and stuffing them into the bottom of my bag. They don't really like that very much. But seriously- that bag! It looks so soft that I want to curl up and use it as a pillow. Mmmmm... leather...

gaudblogvrudaii said...

I'm totally in love with Jill's work! I discovered Scabby Robot on Flickr, a while ago, and started following from there, and then other places - I instantly fell in love with her bookbags! Grand! (still my favourites, probably - and only 2 left in her shop right now)
Very easy for me to say why I love her work - first of all, I like that all her designs are highly functional (a must!), well constructed, durable - so visible that she thinks a lot about that part! Then, everything is liberated by free-style sewing - a perfect combination for me. Cherry on top - fabulous materials and splendid colour combinations! The details? You'll have to see for youself! Terrific!
Am I exaggerating? No way! I own 2 of her bags (one is my every-day bag), I know what I'm talking about! :)
Go Jill!

SNSpencer said...

My favorite would need to be the slim zipper bag (Link below). I could totally see storing some of my finer Fountain Pens in there for transportation. I am jealous of what your shop must smell like. Love the smell of leather.

Elena said...

Scabby robot items are my all time favourites when it comes to bags and accessories. I haven't found anywhere so funky stuff. The raw edgings, the natural shapes, and the uber functional Wedge Totes = love.

This time, in Jills shop I would say the "Jute and Pepper Tote" was my top favourite:

Dontuwish01 said...

I have to say that a photographer friend of mine on Facebook posted a comment about Jill's work and I just had to come look at the items she has for sale. I want every single handbag offered on the site! As unique and gorgeous as they all are, one that initially caught my eye and just wouldn't let go no matter how many other items I looked at was the Jute and Pepper tote. I LOVE that the jute is from local coffee roasters and the styling of the item is so pleasing to the eye, that bag makes me smile. The green leather's smooth, clean look contrasts the rough texture of the jute in a most striking fashion. This bag is the absolute perfect combination of rustic and chic and its just effortlessly cool.

hart said...

Well I have to say my fav is definitely the one that is in the offering - the "L wedge Tote", a friend posted it on Face book and I followed the leads because of the Lure of the bag- + I am fascinated by all things leather and work with it myself, so am always fascinated by how people make something gorgeous that is so simple- the only thing I dont get is the Scabby Robot name, nothing about her or her work seems at all scabby or robotic!!!!!!!! I guess there is a story behind it :) - I loved the links she sent us to on line in your interview, and her work is fab. So thank you for show casing it.

Rhonda said...

I was awestruck by the Onyx leather pouch case - someone actually made something that's *ME*! I love the asymmetry. I only carry a small wallet, phone, and keys and every bag or clutch I see is too big, too common or too 'normal'. My motto (family motto) is "Weird is Good".

I suppose I should also mention the smell of leather makes me horny. What? Too much information? Tough. I'm a dirty old lady and must lead by example!!!

illana Burk said...

Rhonda- HA! I think I'd like you to be my new best friend. Hope you click on the nifty little follow button. I promise to keep it weird.

bonnie_gordon said...

Wow! First of all, the name Scabby Robot is the best shop name I've come across so far, so I had to take a closer look... the L Wedge tote in Cedar is gorgeous.
As a new mom, I've been lugging around a big, green diaper bag and it makes me so jealous to see everyone else with their super cute little fashionable bags. I used to buy new bags and purses all the time, but lately I'm stuck with this hideous diaper bag...
The L Wedge tote would make the PERFECT bag for me! It looks like it's roomy (to hold all my daughter's necessities!) and amazingly stylish. I just love the simplicity, but the luxuriousness of all of Scabby Robot's bags. I'll be checking out her store regularly... mostly to gawk :)

betsy said...

Illana, you're right--this bag is right up my alley!

How can you pick a favorite? (Ok, I'll pick the wedge bag in cedar, with anemone nipping at it's heels). They are so lovely. I love the fact that the design responds so well to the materials--the way the leather is allowed to relax onto itself and create those beautiful, undulating forms. There was a little wedge shaped piece missing from the space that hangs under my arm and I suppose I've found it.

Lorin Dixon said...

I am awestruck by scabby's work. Its inspirational to me due to my fear of my sewing machine! She just seems so confident and free. I think other than the wedge tote the item that speaks to me AND embodies the freedom I was talking about is the
Plus it uses recycled materials which are important to me. No one will have a tote exactly like it most likely!

illana Burk said...

Hey won last week's giveaway!

Also, have you read my posts on my fear of my sewing machine? Just scroll down...they weren't long ago. Shortly after conquering my fear, I promptly broke my machine. Apparently, it was not as fearsome and unstoppable as I thought!

Sarah said...

my favorite item in the etsy shop is the roma red - leather clutch. I would love to have it for myself. The thing i love most about this clutch, is that it's extremely original. No one I know owns anything like it. It's creative, functional, raw, yet classic. The color is perfect as well. The brilliant shade of red helps it to go with virtually anything, and really vamp up an outfit. The fact that it's leather also helps. It makes it naturally thin, so theres no extra bulk other than the items you place in it. All in all, it's a winner, for sure.

Melissa said...

After much deliberation, I completely love the Wedge tote - Butterscotch leather, for several reasons. I don't know much about leather, so I initially thought that Butterscotch was a fun name for the bag, and I love a good butterscotch sundae. Now, I've gained some knowledge about leather from your description, and I am also in love with this bag because there is nothing more delightful than a perfectly soft leather bag. This would make trekking to grad school with lots of books so much more pleasant!

Kristen said...

I love the Wedge Tote in Bone...beautiful color...unique looks like it could carry alot while still not being bulky and awkward. Somebody very lucky is going to win this!
Oh and hey, you're from SF? If I win I'll just come by and pick it up!

couponboss at gmail dot com

jennifer young said...

my fave item from the shop is the "L Wedge tote (in Cedar)". let's keep it simple. i need a new bag that screams me. the l wedge tote is calling my name from afar!!!

Jen said...

My favorite is the Jute & Pepper Tote and I will say why in Haiku!

Jute and Pepper Tote
Coffee beans have softened you
Ready to be MINE

productsoftheday at gmail dot com

oh and by the way, great work!

very married said...


That's my favorite. My laptop seems to contain my entire life so I have to carry it with me everywhere. It's really hard to find a quality leather bag that will fit the laptop without looking like an old lady picked it out for me, it being cheap or it breaking the bank. This Wedge Tote seems to be absolutely perfect - it's totally calling my name!

Brooke said...

I dig the red suede wedge purse - very cool.
shutterboo at gmail dot com

Spaz said...

I love the Wedge tote - marine blue. It will be the perfect accessory for me to carry when I lose my job at the end of the month and have to start interviewing again in July! The prospective employers will think that I am one classy chick and be so impressed with my fab purse, they will give me the job ... with all of my requests. Sigh, okay, maybe I'm dreaming...

Thanks, stasew at hotmail dot com

Nicole said...

I love the Wedge tote - Anemone leather. It is the perfect accessory to give me that pulled-together look that I am so desperately trying to achieve as a busy working mom of a 3-year-old and 5-month-old. I love handbags and use them to accessorize all my outfits. This bag is a timeless style, so it can be used year after year, season after season. The green will add the perfect pop of color to any of my outfits. It is big enough to carry all my essentials, as well as diapers, wipes, and a sippy cup. Even moms deserve to look stylish!

Thanks for the chance to win!
nbalogh522 at gmail dot com

Amber said...

My favorite item is the Chocolate Bookbag XL because it would be perfect for toting my books around at Northwestern University. My friends love my sense of style and I love handbags, but for a backpack, I'm using a plain (if sturdy) Underarmour backpack that I bought at Costco. It definitely doesn't stand out in the crowd! I love the rich brown color of this bag and it would match nearly all of my clothes. I'd definitely carry it around everyday, and it would give me a simultaneously refined but rustic look. I'd want to show it off everywhere I went - in the library, coffeeshops, on the CTA...I might even carry it around when I don't have books with me, because the large size would allow me to throw all of my stuff in one place....a trap I often fall into, where my purse becomes a black hole of sorts. I suppose this bag would just be enabling my bad habit? Haha, but I LOVE it anyhow!
Thank you for the giveaway :)
Thank you for the giveaway :)

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa said...

Goldenrod, Cedar, Mocha or Bone,
Each of you, all of you,
I'd love to bring you home!
Scabby Robot, I've admired you,
Long from afar,
Oh to have one of you
Finally at home on my arm!

Love, love Scabby Robot - one of my first favorite sellers when I joined the Etsy craze. I am no artist but I can appreciate the lovely shape of the wedge tote and how great the materials and colors look. Both have been chosen with great care - that is obvious! I love the new colors for summer. I do believe Goldenrod is my favorite. My little poem rings true - I have admired Scabby Robot for a long time and would love to show off her work and spread the word!

Thanks for giving the opportunity for us to win!

Blu Lima said...

Hello there, I have been LUSTING after a Wedge Tote for so long...I deserve(!) a Midnight Black Leather tote because it will match the duct tape that is holding my passenger window on my car!?!

Have pity on me:)

Jingle said...

I really love the wedge tote in mocha. You see, it looks as though we have already begun our travels. It is ready for adventure through exciting places both indoors and out. It has a slightly worn look that will only get better as we discover new places and hide new treasures along our travels. It is sturdy and strong, and yet, so soft, just like me. Yup. Our journeys have begun. Albeit separately thus far, I feel as though our paths may converge soon.

TopHat said...

I love the Roma Red Leather clutch. I love bright colors and the asymmetrical enclosure! I'm about to have a baby, so I need to win this so I have *something* grown-up in my life!

alittleladyand3men said...

I love the L Wedge Tote in Cedar!!! My reasoning in choosing this bag is as simple as it gets. I have been on the hunt forever for the perfect bag. One that is big but not huge. One that is simple but not boring. One that is exactly that bag.

Dontuwish01 said...

I added my comment (see above) before the FB here it is FBook Follow!!

free indeed said...

Although I love leather, the jute and paper tote caught my eye first. Simplistic in it's styling; organic in it's look and feel; I can just feel the texture fun by looking at it!
freeindeed at myfairpoint dot net

dogwood said...

I love the Roma Red clutch. It's simple but bold and exactly the right size for nights out just me and my husband. I love going out with just a little clutch - not having to worry about carrying anyone else's things (like extra crayons and plastic tiara's and polly pocket dolls).

Karen said...

The bag that's being offered is actually my favorite. What amazing, functional art!

lilDdownunder said...

My friends' husbands always tease me about the HUGE purses I carry around (What, are you going on a trip, Dana? Spending the night here and needed an overnight bag, Dana? Do you have a body in there? etc, etc) so in keeping with the theme of my love for extra large bags, I really, really like the Chocolate Suede Bookbag. I like it because it's XL and looks like no matter how much stuff I put in it, it's still going to feel comfy on my shoulder. I'm a really casual girl and it matches my casual style and I like that I can use it for work, for going out for dinner, as an overnight bag, or if I'm out at the farmer's market and see something I want, I like that I know my bag can handle it.
Jill, you make some gorgeous stuff. Wish I had the designers eye like you!

Aunt Sandy said...

Can I join this wonderful contest? First of all, your work is amazing. Being on a fixed income, luxury items such as these beautiful works of art are out of the question for me.

I love ALL the big bags. They look strong and yet soft and floppy. Kinda like a floppy eared rabbit named Killer.

I am a part-time residential rental manager and it would be nice to be able to carry all my papers, keys, calculator, etc. when I meet with potential tenants.

I'd love to share your talents with this part of the US. Thanks Jill

Sharon said...

My favorite item is the Jute and Pepper tote - the fabric is so natural, and I love that it has a personal story behind it as is with most things handmade. Her bags look so organic and have minimal seamwork, etc., that you can really tell she has respect for nature and letting beauty and quality stand on its own!

yepfinleywedding at gmail dot com

illana Burk said...

Hey all! Illana from Zip and Ruth here.... This is your friendly reminder that I do pretty rock-star giveaways every single Tuesday... sign up to follow here or on my fbook (both links are on the right towards the top of the page) and you'll be the first to know!

Thanks for being so creative everyone!!

AM said...

The L Wedge tote in paprika suede is my favorite.

Why? Because I love handbags...I've defended my obsession various ways, my favorite one is that this a modern basket and my ancestors and sex programmed me to be a 'gatherer'. Really, big totes are great for travel, everyday life, work, sometimes shopping (I hate having to have a bunch of bags to carry). Also, I love red bags, black is good but red is a classic, pop-out color that can cheer up any outfit!

Thanks for the giveaway and good luck to everyone!

BRose said...

I love the Jute and Pepper tote. It's so unique, and I like that it is made from recycled coffee roasters. So I can feel green! Plus, it's nice and big and I carry a lot of stuff around so I need a larger bag.

Also, this isn't about the bag, but can I just say how much I love the name Scabbyrobot. The mental image of a scabby totally entertaining me right now.

AmbreRose said...

I really like the Wedge tote - Anemone leather. That color of bluish green is great. I think a bag like that has to be nice and bright. ambrerose(!at)

Jenny said...

I love the chocolate brown bookbag – I’m always looking for good-looking, big and sturdy bags because I carry a lot of stuff around with me (my husband would tell you I carry too much stuff around with me, but we all know that it’s important to be prepared for anything right?) I love that the bag is nice and roomy and has plenty of pockets. I also love that it has a rawness to it – it just makes the bag look cozy and comfortable!
Plus I work in the library so anything with book in the name is good for me :)

jenny.maurer84 at gmail dot com

Ladytink_534 said...

My favorite item is the L Wedge tote - Creambecause it's kind of casual and would go with many outfits. Plus it's really deep so I could carry a book along with all my other stuff!


Sharon said...

My favorite item is the Chocolate bookbag and the primary reason I like it is because it just fits with my own image of myself ...not refined and tailored but casual and elegant in its own way. I'd rate it high on the functionality scale also; I'm a student so this would met my needs ...roomy for my books and even a laptop, lots of pockets for all the miscellaneous stuff I need to have with me, and large enough that what I do have in there would remain out of site -- and be secure when hoofing it from one end of campus to the other. I like the raw edges and white stitching also -- lots of character there.

Thanks for the exposure to these beautiful creations and to Jill's store ....and, for a chance to win this great looking wedge bag.

emcSquared said...

Jill's work is awesome. Her bags manage to look both sophisticated and raw-cutting-edge! I am in love with the Chocolate suede bookbag in XL. Right now, when I leave for work in the morning, I'm carrying a computer bag, a lunch bag (recycled of course) and my purse. I look like a cross between baglady and gypsy caravan. Jill's bookbag looks like it would be large enough to carry all of my necessary junk while saving my fashionplate (in my mind) image!

Thank you for the chance!

em9499 at gmail dot com

Samy said...

I adore her shop. :) I am so glad that I stumbled upon it- I just had to heart it! The variety is fantastic so it's hard to pick just one favorite. When I look for a bag, I go for a cute style but also a purse that will function along with my needs and be versatile. The "L Wedge tote - black midnight leather" is fantastic. I am currently going to college and it is the perfect textbook/notebook size. Other than that, I like a bag that is big enough to hold all of the stuff I like to tote around with me. The color will go with basically everything in my closet (plus, hey, it matches my hair.) This bag is simple but edgy, which I love. Fashionable and ready for anything. Savoureux!

samyrocks92 at msn dot com

Emily Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emily Taylor said...

I love the Wedge tote in Bone and Black.

What is so great about these bags is that they are the kind of bag that if you were walking down the street, a passerby would see you carrying the tote and think, "look and that sleek woman carrying a chic and classic style tote, she must be cool to have such great taste, I wish I could be her friend." And although the passerby would be sad that you weren't their friend, they would decide to stop to ask you where you got it. Because even if you can't be friends, they could at least buy the awesome tote bag.


Anonymous said...

Zip pouch - palamino and apple

the brass zipper with the red fabric lining combined with the brown leather is a perfect contrast.

i would put all my favorite little things in it.

ananemone at gmail dot com

spillingout said...

All so beautiful … but the thought of something reinvented to create fashion is what really gets my deeper love!

I see our life together… throwing the bag on my shoulder, hiking to the stop, sinking in the bus seat, and letting my mind wander to the tote on my shoulder … the thought driven by the 4 woman and 1 very fashionable man staring at it!

I begin to think about the bag carrying the beans, how did Jill hook up with the coffee folks, “ hey, can I have a large latté and what is that beautiful jute doing in your dumpster”??

What was it like to have been in a different county, thrown on a cargo plane, flown over a sea, transported by rail and trucks?

Then end up in the creative hands and mind of someone who married you to a piece of leather and shaped you into your present reincarnation?

Oh my stop … and my favorite … the one that would take me on a journey… Jute and Pepper Tote!

We are suppose to fall in love with fashion and I would love the Wedge Tote just as much!


Anna said...

I am obsessed with the entire Scabby Robot collection. I LOVE the Zip Pouch in Cedar and Clementine. The combination of natural cedar leather with the poppy clementine industrial zipper is fantastic and delicious! I am always on the hunt for little pouches and containers to store my supplies and I would love to see the leather wear and weather over the years of use.

Miss Jill Harrell you have serious skills! Keep it real.


Melissa said...

Oops, I posted and forgot to put my email address.

I am melissadchaney(at)gmail(dot)com.

Mine was the post with the silly poem and goldenrod as my favorite. Thanks!

illana Burk said...

Entries are now closed....thanks all! The winner will be posted tomorrow with the new artist feature. Good luck!