Erda Handbags

Cambridge, ME


At Erda, a jolly group of women collaborates to bring into being the outside-the-box ideas I generate. We've established a distinctive identity by using vivid, texture-rich fabrics, exotic deerskin, and sculptural shapes.

I started making deerskin bags in 1971, at first for myself, then for friends. I was only planning to do it until I figured out what to be when I grew up. I made VERY funky bags, loaded with fringe, beads, and raggedy edges. I had no training, and frankly my bags had almost no construction — they were sorta Abstract Expressionist bags. Some styles, updated, are still available.

Today, I collect intelligence from the press, the net, the cosmopolitan world, and customers, to bring to our shop in Maine, ten miles from the nearest small town. Drawing upon the creativity and skills of the group, we've added structure, zippers, pockets, and functionality that embodies the spirit of Erda in a fresh, up-to-date form.

Our bags are made of American deerskin or contemporary fabrics stolen from the upholstery industry. As you can see, they aren't something you'd picture on your couch, though! All of our handbags are available in any of our standard fabrics or in our recycled fabrics.

What does "Erda" mean?
Erda in ancient times was a goddess of seasons and productivity, a Teutonic version of Mother Ceres. She appears in the Wagnerian operas (the Ring cycle). Erda today is a place where people work together with their hands, their hearts and their minds.


How do I take care of deerskin?
Deerskin doesn't want or need much care. Please don't put any leather "treatment" on your Erda bag! Deerskin is so porous, it soaks up that stuff and will feel like an oily rag! After a year or two, if your bag does get dry, plain ol' handcream (Jergens lotion, for example) is best. It will darken the leather temporarily, but in a day or two it will spread into the whole bag evenly and the color should return to normal.

Will rain or water spot deerskin?
Yes, sometimes. But all you have to do to fix it is stretch the leather where the spots are and they'll disappear!

How will oil spots affect deerskin? 

If it’s not a lot of oil, it may gradually soak in and disappear.  Or, you can hurry the process by either leaving the spot under a hot light bulb or putting talcum powder on it to soak it out.