Introduction: Giant Golden Girls Purse

About: I love me a good project! I enjoy expanding my skill set through taking classes, researching online and classic trial-and-error. I've been a Halloween and home improvement nut for years and gradually broadenin…

"Thank you for being a friend. Travel down the road and back again..."

"The Golden Girls" is a classic TV show and, to any fan, the characters - and their wardrobes - are instantly recognizable. Sophia Petrillo's wicker purse was a mainstay - always being toted around by tiny, little Estelle Getty. So when given the chance to make a photo op for "GoldenCon: Thank you for Being a Fan" (yes, a Golden Girls fan convention), I knew I had to make a giant version of the wicker purse.

It proved to be very popular for photos; posing behind it gives the impression that you're inside the purse. And, if you're thinking "what am I going to to with a giant purse?", it could totally be converted to a bar - it definitely has a tiki bar sort of vibe.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

2x2x8 lumber – 9 pieces

1/2 plywood

2.7MM luan – 4x8ft sheet


Kreg system and kreg screws (not required)

Pin gun & pins

Micro-pin gun & pins

Flat basket reed – 5/28-inch, 1-pound coil, approximately 120 feet each. 7 packages

Dowel rods – 4ft long, 3/8” diameter

Hot glue sticks – LOTS of them

Glue gun

Wood glue

Galvanized wire – 100 ft

Wire clothes hangers – 8 hangers

Ball Pit Balls – pearl white, 3” – ~150 balls needed

Polyurethane spray – 2 cans

Fleece fabric – ivory – 3 yards

White electrical tape

Staple gun & staples

Step 2: Plan & Design

I used good old-fashioned algebra to figure out how to scale up the purse with the right dimensions. I wanted the purse to be 4' tall so I could cover the front with a 4x8 sheet of plywood. I determined the corresponding width - for 4' height - was 5'8". I decided to just round the sides of the purse and keep the top edge squared off; having it rounded in two dimensions was going to be way to tricky. I wanted to keep the center area open so people could step "in" to the purse for their photo-op.

Step 3: Build the Structure

I used 2x2s for most of the structure secured together with standard wood screws. I also used Kreg system (drill and screws) to attach some pieces end to end. To make the curves, I used pieces of plywood that I cut with a jigsaw. I used a pin gun to attach the plywood pieces and cross-pieces - used to add stability.

Step 4: Cover the Structure With Plywood

I used thin plywood (luan) to cover the front of the structure. To get the necessary curve of the corners, I soaked the luan in between several soaked towels for about 8 hours. I periodically dumped hot water on/between the wood and towels. After soaking, I used duct tape to hold the bend in the wood overnight as it dryed out. Once I took off the tape, it held the curve pretty well (it rebounded back a little). I attached luan with wood glue, a micropin gun and a TON of pins.

Step 5: Make the Basket Weave Façade

A second set of hands was really helpful for this part; thanks Dad! I used flat basket basket reed - the widest I could find - to make the purse look like it's made of wicker. We attached the reeds to the plywood with hot glue in places that would be eventually covered with beads (two vertical stripes) and on the ends. We laid out the reeds and held them in place with boards and weights. Once the reeds were in place - but only secured on one end - we slid dowels from the top... under, over, under, etc. the reeds. After the dowels were in place, we pulled the reeds tight and hot glued the other end. Eventually, I used glue and a pin gun to cover up the ends of the reeds to hold them in place (only at the back corners).

Step 6: Add the "beads" (handle and Bands)

The "beads" were made of pearl-colored ball pit balls. I used about 90 balls for the bands along the front and top of the purse then 60 more for the handle.

For the bands, I drilled holes in each end of each ball so I could thread it on a dowel rod. To keep the balls from sliding down the dowel rod and spaced evenly, I used a little hot glue. When I then hot glued the balls (on the dowel) to the front and top of the purse.

For the handle, I used 4 strands of galvanized wire which I twisted together using a drill. The resulting wire was more stiff than the original single strand but it was still too floppy when I held the handle in an arch shape. I straightened out 6 wire clothes hangers to add to the galvanized wire (this helped a lot) and then twisted white electrical tape around the outside. I threaded 30 balls on each of the two handles. The ends of the wire were pushed through holes in the top of the purse which I drilled and reinforced with a block of wood. The two handles were anchored to each other with a long white twist-tie near the top of the arch to add stability.

Step 7: Seal & Line With Fabric

I used two cans of clear gloss spray polyurethane to seal the front and top of the purse. It helped to add some sheen and it deepened the color slightly. I could have used another coat but 2 cans were sufficient.

To cover up the back of the purse while not spending a lot of money or adding much weight, I used ivory colored fleece fabric. I attached it with staples and a staple gun.

Step 8: Enjoy Your Ridiculously Huge Wicker Purse!

I'm happy to answer any questions; please just let me know.

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