Tag Archives: enid collins

Rambling Thoughts

I’m back from the big Hillsville, Virginia Flea and ready to share a bit. First up, the one I just barely got before the sky opened up and rain poured down, closing the market an hour early.  Can you guess what I bought from the above display?

I bet those of you who are regular readers are thinking the hatbox, and that is a great guess, but I already had that particular box.  No, I bought the Hapi Cat box handbag, an Enid Collins favorite.  I’m really not a particular fan of cats, (having lived though nineteen years of Aramis  the Wonder Cat) but I, and most Collins of Texas fans, have always thought the cat was one of her best motifs.  I’d tell you what I paid, but I’m afraid it would inspire envy.  Even with the missing jewels, it was a very hapi find.

Otherwise, it was an Art Deco sort of trip, with all my other purchases coming from 1925-1932ish.  I can’t complain about that.

But on the whole, this flea market trip has gotten to be a bit too much.  The main problem is that anything goes here.  This does not pretend to be an antiques market.  It started out as a gun show and just grew and grew.  Today there are some wonderful antiques and collectibles sellers, but there is a heck of a lot of down right junk, and it is all mixed together so that to find the good stuff you have to pass by an awful lot of pure tacky.  It all just leaves me exhausted.

So, this may be my last trip to Hillsville.  It’s weekends like this that make me wish I were farther north so I could easily go to the vintage show at Sturbridge, and the fields at Brimfield.

I also liked:

Very nice sweater, but I’m just not set up for fur.

These prints are quite common, but always pricy.  Pretty, no?  There are several others in the series.

And just for a smile, a bit of Holt Howard.

I took the slow road home, just because I needed to catch my breath.  In this case, the slow road is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which follows the crest of the Blue Ridge from the middle of Virginia through western North Carolina.

This is Grandfather Mountain.  On the far left, near the bottom is the Linn Cove Viaduct, a specially designed bridge that was built so as not to disturb the fragile eco-system of Grandfather.  It curves around the mountain, and was the last link of the road to be completed, in 1983 at a cost of $10,000,000.  You can actually park and go under the Viaduct for a very interesting view of it.

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Filed under Road Trip, Shopping

Enid Collins: An Interview with her Son, Jeep

I’m very pleased to be able to share with you an interview with Jeep Collins, the son of famed handbag designer and maker, Enid Collins.

*  How did Collins of Texas get its start?

Soon after World War II Frederic and Enid Collins came to Texas  and bought a small ranch close to the town of Medina.   Struggling to make a living as ranchers they began to use their talents and training to make things they could sell.  Enid studied fashion design and fine art at Texas Woman’s University and Frederic studied engineering at the University of Michigan and was also a sculptor.  Together they began to make leather handbags which she designed and he built on their kitchen table.  Frederic sculpted brass ornaments for the handbags.

* How were ideas for new designs developed?  Did Enid work as the sole designer?

She was the primary designer but Fred was also creative and had input especially in the ornaments.  He was good at figuring out how to make things, first by hand and later when he built the factory he invented various jigs to make production easier.  His father’s father was in the carriage building business in Michigan and his father invented things used in the early auto industry.

* My favorites are the box bags.  Did Collins of Texas make the wooden boxes used as the handbag base?

At first they had someone make the boxes.  When suddenly that source dried up Fred quickly acquired a large tent, until he could build a workshop, bought  woodworking equipment and began producing them himself.  The stock number prefix for the box bags was HH which stood for “high hopes.”  The success of the box bags was a major step in the growth of the company.

* I know Collins was a family business.  How were the Collins children involved in it?

Cynthia and I both worked summers in production.  Later Cynthia modeled for a series of ads run in The New Yorker.  She later went to Puerto Rico to train workers there in the factory.

*  What were some of the most unusual bags produced?

The early leather ones were very unusual.

* What were some of the most popular designs?

“Money Tree” comes to mind.  Enid did so many designs.  Every season she would have new ones ready to come out.

*  Over the years I’ve found some unusual Collins of Texas items.  What are some of the things, other than handbags, that the company produced?

Early on they made whatever they could sell.  Frederic made bronze horse sculptures, bronze ashtrays (I have one of these from his maternal grandfather’s business, Alamo Explosives), and other bronze items.  They also made leather belts with brass ornaments, leather sandals, papier mache mirror frames, paperie mache waste baskets, and papier mache broches.

*  How big a problem were knock-offs and copycats?  Did Collins of Texas ever try to take action against any of these copiers?

There was always much business discussion at home and I remember my mother especially discussing it but I do not think there was ever any action taken.  Their philosophy was to always stay ahead with new things coming out constantly.

*  Did the company copyright the designs?  I know there is a copyright symbol on some bags under the “ec” signature.

Yes

*  I’ve read that the business was sold to Tandy in 1970, with Enid continuing to work for them for a short while.  What happened to end this arrangement?

The company took a new direction not wanting to be dependant on any one designer.  This was difficult for her as a person because she built the company and now had to let others run it a different way.  Being semi-retired she then began to use her artistic talents in other things: ceramics, painting, stitchery, and other media.

* And, most importantly, was a bag with a Scotty dog motif ever produced (please say yes!)?

Quite possibly, but I can’t say for sure.

A very big thank you to Jeep, and to his son Christian Collins for arranging the interview.  Jeep is a jewelry designer and maker.  Christian has a website dedicated to all things Enid Collins. 

And I’m still looking for that Collins of Texas Scotty bag!

Photo of Enid Collins in her studio courtesy of Christian Collins.

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Filed under Designers, First Person Stories