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Spice Up Your Sofa With a Photo Pillow

After twenty years of running engineering departments in the corporate aerospace business, Debora Crichton decided to change things up. She got married, moved from the West Coast to Fairfield County and got in touch with her creative side.

“I’ve always loved working with my hands, and everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve always had a workshop,” she said. She started making toys and working the trade shows: “I went to all the shows, including the toy show at the Javits Center in New York,” she said, but competition from Chinese toy companies made it impossible to stay in business.

That’s when things really started getting creative. “I LOVE handbags,” she said, “and I LOVE my dog, Max, so I decided to put a photograph of him on a handbag.” Whether it was the handbag or the photo of Max, women would go up to Debora and try to buy the bag off her arm. “A woman came up to me in the Post Office demanding to know where I’d got the bag. She wanted to buy it there and then,” she laughed. That’s when Debora knew she had a new business all ready to go.

Art Bags are made locally in Debora’s studio in the American Fabrics Building in Bridgeport. “We also started making custom pillows, using the same technique,” she said. Pillows and bags can be made to order from digital photos. The pillows are made of organic cotton sateen or cotton duck and are available in five colors and two sizes.

Seven years later, Debora Crichton’s bags and pillows can be found across the States as well as in Japan and Canada. “The Smithsonian and National Gallery in Washington, DC, sell them in their gift shops,” she said proudly.

The American Fabric Arts Building in Bridgeport will be having an open house November 13 and 14, showcasing the 30 artisans who work out of the repurposed factory. Debora Crichton’s handbags and pillows will all be there.

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