Kalpna Patel, What’s Actually In Your Bag Right Now?


Kalpna Patel is a Toronto-based craft genius and installation artist who can do more things with a sheet of construction paper than is dreamed of in your reality. She is responsible for elaborate handmade window displays, including this one and this one. Last week, she let me rifle through her stuff because I asked her nicely. “Everything is about my comfort,” she explained. “I like feeling warm and clean and fed.”

1. The bag was on sale last winter. It’s small but fits a ton of stuff. This is my everyday stuff. I used to carry tons more because I’d have like, art supplies, and I’d collect crap off the ground all the time, like acorns and leaves and little things to work into pieces. But now I’m cleaning it out every night, because Marie Kondo (author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) says so, and she’s making me a better person, even though now I look like a boring old lady. I have a whole drawer in my dresser now which is just my “purse contents drawer.” When I come home I put everything in this little drawer and then the next day, when I fill it up, I know there might be stuff I don’t need to take with me. It’s keeping me organized.

2. A notebook. There’s measurements for like, ten different windows in Toronto in that notebook. I usually have five or six different projects going on at once, and I used to carry a different notebook for each one.

3. Almond Ritter Sport Bar. I usually buy two at a time so there’s always a backup.

4. A little stack of index cards for writing notes in when I’m not ready to write in my notebook.

5. Sara Levine’s Treasure Island!!! I always try to carry one skinny funny book around. I started reading this one two years ago and then forgot about it. I stopped riding public transit and stopped carrying books around, but now it’s cold again I have to carry a book in case I get stranded somewhere.

6. My keys, which have two broken keys because yesterday I broke a key in my lock at home. This has happened twice. I keep the broken keys on there to remind me to get more keys cut, because if it happens again I’m screwed.

7. An extra pen in addition to all the pens in my pencil case, a dollar store flashlight that my mom insists I carry around, Advil, hand sanitizer, and little collapsible scissors. These come in handy. I had an installation when I forgot to pack my tools and had to cut something.

8. Hand warmers that my friend Tanya made.

9. Change Purse.

10. Date book.

11. A necklace I made that I need to deliver.

12. My wallet, which is pretty much all receipts right now.

13. A full set of cutlery because I eat a lot and I often have to eat on the streetcar or the bus and I don’t like plastic utensils. I can’t eat Gandhi’s Roti with plastic utensils.

14. Pencil case full of pens and markers and things to draw with.

15. This crazy little makeup case that I got in Tokyo in 2010. Inside: rose cardamom lip balm, lipstick, eye drops, moisturizer, contact lense case, nail cutters, oil of oregano, and hand cream.

16. A little hand towel I also got in Tokyo, and a little glittery pocket mirror.

17. Business cards.

18. A little credit card/membership card holder thing from The Paper Place.