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Mon, June 17

Chino Valley's Tarantinos find their style with carpetbags

Paula Rhoden/<br>The Daily Courier<br>Kathy Tarantino displays the carpetbags she and her husband Jerry make at their Chino Valley residence. Lucky, a fashion magazine, spotlights the Victorian "Mary Poppins-style" bags in its November issue.

Paula Rhoden/<br>The Daily Courier<br>Kathy Tarantino displays the carpetbags she and her husband Jerry make at their Chino Valley residence. Lucky, a fashion magazine, spotlights the Victorian "Mary Poppins-style" bags in its November issue.

Most have heard the expression "I would rather be lucky than good." Well, if you are good enough, luck comes calling.

For Kathy and Jerry Tarantino of Chino Valley, luck literally found them: Lucky, a national fashion magazine contacted the couple about their carpetbags, which they started making 14 years ago.

The magazine spotlights the Tarantinos' "Victorian Traveler" line of carpetbags in its November issue.

The magazine describes the carpetbag as a "Mary Poppins-style" carryall. However, Kathy was inspired to create authentic period-style bags after she and Jerry appeared as extras in the movie "Tombstone" in 1994.

Kathy is the tall woman dressed in black in the crowd after the shootout at the O.K. Corral. Jerry appeared in several scenes, and he still has the red sash he wore as a member of the Red Sash Gang.

"Kathy got the idea when we finished the movie. People carried their stuff around in grocery sacks. The director and film crew always had to make sure the sacks were out of the shot. She thought if their stuff were in an authentic carpetbag, it wouldn't ruin the shot if was accidentally filmed," Jerry said.

It takes the Tarantinos about 90 minutes to make a bag - Kathy does the sewing and Jerry makes the frames and adds the metal trim. A trademark Victorian Traveler button finishes each bag.

They use quality upholstery material and 10-ounce canvas lining to make their bags. The frames are metal covered with wood so Jerry can attach the trim. The handles are quality saddle leather.

The bags - everything from purses, totes and garment bags - have a long shelf life.

"We are seeing bags we made 10 to 12 years ago. We guarantee everything. A set of our bags was even involved in a custody battle in a divorce. I think they each got one," Kathy said.

The Tarantinos sell their bags at high-end arts and craft shows, and customers can also special-order them, choosing from 10 to 12 fabric designs.

As the name implies, several of the fabrics are Victorian in style, while others have a Southwest design.

Victorian Travelers bags range in price from $130 for a small purse to $183 for a large purse, and $225 to $350 for hair-on-cowhide items.

True carpetbag-style purses are hard to find.

"Our style is one you don't see very often. You might find something similar, but we try to stay within what people would have had in the 1800s. We researched what original carpetbags looked like," Jerry said.

Kathy added, "We had an article in Cowboys and Indians magazine two years ago. But this is our first time in a major fashion magazine."

Anyone interested in more information about The Victorian Traveler can visit www.carpetbag.com.

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