East Tennessee purse designer inspired by daughter's music lessons

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Artists draw their inspiration from different places. For Becky Chaffee, it's music. Not because she writes music, or even plays music, but because she misses the sound of it.

"I missed hearing the violin practice," said Chaffee.

After her daughter left for college, the house sounded a little lonely. The seamstress turned artist turned designer started painting. She uses her art mainly as messages for musicians, tying in quotes, animals and color.

"I love making things humorous so that they're memorable and brightly colored, so that they're fun and based on educational concepts is fun for me," she said.

But her signature items are in the bag.

"These are the violin purses that I've had a blast making," she explained. "A lot of them I put back pockets, side pockets, pockets inside."

She uses different patterns and themes to make purses in the shape of violins.

"When I was walking through the craft store, I saw a button that looked like a violin chin rest, and I thought, 'Why don't I make a violin purse?' and that's how it started. People loved it, and I made it again and again so that it was more beautiful and more practical, but it's still not easy to make," she said.

Now the artist is tasked with creating a piece on a much larger scale as part of the Goodwill Vintage Fashion Show design challenge. She has to make a runway-ready outfit using only items from Goodwill. Of course, her design fits in with her musical theme.

"I modeled it after the cello, it's cello-inspired. So these are the indentions in the cello, this is the bridge, it was kind of in the way out here, this was the collar of a shirt," she explained.

Music brought life into a mother who missed her daughter, and now it's her turn to bring the music to life.

"This dress combines it all," she smiled.

The Goodwill Vintage Fashion Show is September 21.

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