May 24, 2015

Shop Local: Leather Bags by Iron+Copper+Bronze

Bags at Iron Copper Bronze

I had heard a little about the line here and there in the past few months. When we posted my blog about Mother’s Day gifts on the FresYes Facebook last week, a reader mentioned that he had gotten his wife a bag from Iron+Copper+Bronze. Out of curiosity, I looked them up and discovered that they were having their once-a-month Art Hop open house that very night. It seemed like fate.

As soon as I stepped into their space at 1821 Gallery & Studios in Downtown Fresno, I was in love. I’ve always viewed fashion as an art, and artist Bibi Bielat and her partner Cathy Caracciolo have definitely taken this concept to heart.

The range and quality of the bags is truly amazing considering Bibi and Cathy make each one by hand in their garage studio, out of waxed canvas and leather (some of it even locally purchased). There are flap bags, wristlets and totes, most of which are honestly quite unisex and all of which are beautiful. Bibi and Cathy are always creating new designs, including an upcoming weekender duffle bag.

Bags at Iron+Copper+Bronze

The designers love to travel, they say on their website, so it was only natural that the bags should be perfect travel companions. “The original goal was to create bags that were tough and rugged and able to carry essentials for a picnic in Yosemite or a drive to the Central California coast and to be versatile enough for everyday use.”

The pair also makes aprons, which is, by the way, how this whole (ad)venture began. Bibi decided she wanted to try her hand at making a leather artist’s apron for herself since they can be so expensive to buy. The project evolved into something more, and Iron+Copper+Bronze was born. The name comes from Bibi’s art studio. Her paints are a unique medium of actual iron, copper and bronze metal particles suspended in an acrylic base.

Artist Bibi Bielat talks to a visitor at Art Hop.

Artist Bibi Bielat talks to a visitor at Art Hop.

You can meet Bibi and purchase her art as well as the bags from Iron+Copper+Bronze at 1821 Gallery & Studios during Art Hop on the first Thursday of every month. All the designs are also available to purchase online, as well as at Misc. Trading Co in Downtown Fresno and at Embellish & Restore in Visalia. Prices range from $65 to $235 for these handcrafted beauties.