This year’s silent auction, chaired by The Vintage Contessa (aka Donae Chramosta), features travel-inspired jewelry, sculpture and objects created from vintage, repurposed Louis Vuitton bags and luggage.

The Vintage Contessa generously donated these vintage pieces, as they were unable to be re-sold after years of wear and tear. Houston Center for Contemporary Craft handpicked a group of exceptional craft artists who have exhibited at HCCC in recent years to create fabulous art works from the repurposed luxury materials. Given the theme of “travel” as their inspiration (a nod to the favorite pastime of luncheon honorees, Franci and Jim Crane), the artists created a variety of one-of-a-kind art pieces.

Preview the silent auction items here, and, if you wish to place a bid or purchase a piece at the Buy It Now price, please contact Suzanne Sippel at or 713-529-4848 x202.  All proceeds benefit the Exhibitions Program at HCCC.

See the items in person at the Crafting a Legacy Spring Luncheon, on May 7th.

Julia Barello, Reversible Necklace
Repurposed Louis Vuitton bag
Value: $900
Opening Bid: $400
Buy It Now: $1,100


I’ve been looking at fashion magazines lately, always a secret pleasure, and couldn’t help but notice the flower that is appearing on many Prada objects this season. I was tickled by the idea of eliding luxury goods from different designers, so I started with the flower form as a silhouette, but using the Louis Vuitton fabric as the material.  The necklace is lightweight, will pack well for travel, is easily washable and designed to be reversible, with different color palettes on each side–extending its wardrobe potential for when the owner is traveling.

— Julia Barello

Julia Barello’s work was featured at HCCC in Interstitial Spaces: Julia Barello and Beverly Penn (2012) and Transmutations (2010).

Elizabeth DeLyria, Drifter
Repurposed Louis Vuitton suitcase, ceramic
Value: $1,500
Opening Bid: $600
Buy It Now: $1,700



Upon receiving the assignment to create a piece of artwork with the theme of travel, the thing that stood out the most in my mind was that I had to do this while staying true to my aesthetic and my medium of clay.  Stay with the horse that brung me, as it were.  Yet, how could I incorporate the theme of travel—and include parts of a Louis Vuitton suitcase while I was at it—into my themes of creating water, wood and stone?  I eventually followed the thread that dealt with the concept of travel being a kind of drifting–frequent travelers are often called drifters–and my ceramic driftwood calling to mind the image of a piece of wood gently bobbing around, drifting in the water for years.  As a consequence, it could be viewed as the ultimate “drifter.”

I thought it would be easy to make a ceramic suitcase that looked like it was made of driftwood, but that seemed trite. But what about a piece of ceramic driftwood that looked like a suitcase?  I liked the idea of the juxtaposition of the suitcase hardware and leather against the grain of the natural-looking “wood.”  I also liked the concept that the person interacting with the driftwood suitcase would be surprised upon opening what seemed wholly driftwood to find classic Louis Vuitton on the inside.

The artwork became a trump l’oeil puzzle as it were–clay made to look like a natural piece of driftwood, teasing the viewer into a double-take upon noticing the suitcase hardware.  The viewer is surprised upon interacting with the case and opening it to find real elements of a Louis Vuitton suitcase, re-imagined to become the inside of a driftwood suitcase.

— Elizabeth DeLyria

Elizabeth DeLyria’s work is featured at HCCC in the current exhibit, The 2013 NCECA Biennial, and was featured in CraftTexas 2012 and In Residence 2010 (2011).

Heidi Gerstacker, Untitled Brooch I
Repurposed Louis Vuitton bag, brass
Value: $400
Opening Bid: $160
Buy It Now: $500
Heidi Gerstacker, Untitled Brooch II
Repurposed Louis Vuitton bag, brass, plastic gem
Value: $400
Opening Bid: $160
Buy It Now: $500
Heidi Gerstacker, Untitled Brooch III
Repurposed Louis Vuitton bag, brass, plastic gems
Value: $500
Opening Bid: $200
Buy It Now: $600


I am inspired by the ordinary being extraordinary. A glance in the junk drawer or a stroll through my urban neighborhood provides a variety of visual influences.  Some may be natural, others are manmade, but either can spark an idea of form or the path of light. I take these impressions and transform them into a modern line of jewelry, sharing my vision with the wearer’s style.

When I was invited to participate in this silent auction, I was excited to apply my aesthetic in transforming a used LV handbag into something new.  I chose to deconstruct the bag and use the fabric (I usually use metal) to create a series of brooches that could both reference my leaf motif and push the material in a new direction. In the first piece, the LV fabric is the focus but, in the two successive brooches, it gradually becomes the background as other elements are added.

–Heidi Gerstacker

Heidi Gerstacker’s work was featured at HCCC in CraftHouston 2002: TexasCraftHouston 2003: National, ABC of Craft (2004), Metal Moods (2005), Fresh Metal (2007), CraftTexas 2008, and CraftTexas 2010.

Janice Jakielski, Expedition Cap
Repurposed Louis Vuitton bag, fabric


As a frequent hat maker, I really wanted to turn the bag into something wearable. I found inspiration in the travel theme and researched aviator helmets and equestrian caps—things things that people wear when they’re on the move.  I found the traditional LV brown pattern a challenge, since I normally work in bright colors. I decided to add the pop of blue ruffles, tucking them into the top seam to make it appear as if the seam were splitting open and the ruffles revealed.

— Janice Jakielski

Janice Jakielski’s work is featured at HCCC in the current exhibition, Constructing Solitude.

Barbara Smith, Untitled
Repurposed Louis Vuitton bag
Value: $350
Opening Bid: $140
Buy It Now: $400


The LV bag, as a material, was initially quite foreign to me. I took time to study the bag, the form and construction, and think about the bag as a symbol, functional object, and concept.  In order to understand the true logic of the bag, I began taking it apart.  Carefully.  Slowly.  I dissected the bag, inventing methods for removing the various seams and cataloging the parts.  I very quickly realized that what I was interested in was the thread, the minutest detail, which had been holding the bag together.  During the long process of undoing, I discovered that the thread had a distinct history and memory, slight changes of color and weight and wear. How to translate my tacit knowledge of the bag into a new form that created an intimacy with something so familiar to us?

I wanted to make something with the thread, the detritus from the bag, which utilized the event of the auction as part of the piece. What I mean by this is that I wanted to create an object that was both the essence of the original bag and a humble invitation to engage. Every piece of thread was tied end to end, to create a long line moving from yellow, the light brown, to dark brown.  With great care, I wound the thread around my pinky finger. The repetitive gesture created a center pull ball, an object that asks for interaction and is caught in-between what it was and what it can be.

— Barbara Smith

Barbara Smith’s work was featured at HCCC in Commonplace:  Objects by Barbara Smith & Ryan Takaba (2011).

Ryan Takaba, Untitled, Vase
Repurposed Louis Vuitton bag, ceramic, poplar
Value: $600
Opening Bid: $250
Buy It Now: $700



During the course of the project, I thought about daily ritual, a current theme in my work.  In some of my ceramic pieces, a flower sits in a small reservoir, which is nested in a larger ceramic form, bringing to mind an imagined landscape.  The user would remove the reservoir to fill it with water daily.

I decided to create a vase that one could travel with. I used the handles from the LV bag because it carries its own history through use.  I combined the handles with a wooden box made from poplar wood to house two porcelain forms. The natural surface and color of the materials running throughout the piece will take on a patina of its own over time.

— Ryan Takaba

Ryan Takaba’s work was featured at HCCC in Commonplace:  Objects by Barbara Smith & Ryan Takaba (2011).

Lynn Williams, Kunstkammer
Repurposed Louis Vuitton bag, paper, fiber, found objects
Value: $800
Current Bid: $350
Buy It Now: $1,000



The ideas of travel and adventure inspired me to create a portable cabinet of curiosities.  The items contained here are artifacts collected during an imaginary expedition to a land where art and making are of the utmost importance.  Enjoy the journey.

— Lynn Williams

Lynn Williams work was featured at HCCC in Crafting Live(s): 10 Years of Artists-in-Residence (2011), Celebrating Our Creative Spirit (2009), In Residence 2008 (2009) and The Art of the Contemporary Handbag (2002).

Sandie Zilker, Destinations Necklace
Repurposed Louis Vuitton bag, brass, amber, citrine, tigers eye, smoky quartz and other stones
Value: $1,200
Opening Bid: $500
Buy It Now: $1,400


Think of the entire piece as a trip—each stone is a destination or stop on the itinerary.  The clasp is home—the beginning and the end of the journey.

The handles were the first parts I thought of as the perfect elements of a neckpiece.  I wanted to include clues for where the parts came from, so I cut out the symbols from the bag and set them like gemstones, transforming them from the well-known patterns of an iconic bag to elements in the pattern of stones.

The rich colors of the leather informed my palette of stones.

— Sandie Zilker

Sandie Zilker’s work was featured at HCCC in Transmutations (2010), FreshMetal (2007), CraftHouston: Texas 2006, CraftHouston: Texas 2004, and CraftHouston 2002.

All photos by Mitchell Alexander, except the following: Janice Jakielski, “Expedition Cap.” Photo by HCCC. Barbara Smith, “Untitled.” Photo by Barbara Smith.