By Terri Monique Armed with a passion for creating handbags with an exotic twist, Harbor Island's hair stylist Christine Johnson closed the doors to her business for the week to invest in what could very well be a booming second career. Born and raised on the island of Long Island Christine grew up seeing family and friends create amazing products using straw plait. Though the call to craft wares with the island's prized resource seemed unavoidable, Christine had no interest in the trade. That was until three years ago when she took a bold step in signing up for a straw craft class. Since then the handbag bug has bitten Christine, and she is now designing original purses. Some wondered why she would enroll in a texture painting class. Without it, it seemed, Christine was doing quite well. Yet there was a desire for more, and she was willing to invest in a worthwhile skill that would propel her handbags to new heights. Christine found what she was looking for in a texture painting class that was taking place in Savannah Sound, Eleuthera. It meant closing the doors to her business, but that was a small investment for what she knew was to come. And come it did. By the end of the first night Christine had mastered the basic techniques of painting with texture. She quickly learned how to paint a leaf with dimension, dynamic abstract designs and the ultimate textured flowers for application on a variety of surfaces. It was evident that for Christine this was not just a casual class to stockpile on the list of her class arsenal. She was in it to learn new techniques to take her products to a new level. From a mere five days of exposure, Christine said the knowledge she gained gave her a renewed vision for where she could take her designs. With her course certificate in hand and a host of texture painting techniques, Christine is now producing fabulous, original handbag designs from her studio in Harbor Island. If you are visiting Harbor Island and you are interested in an authentically Bahamian handbag, C.J. Creations just may be exactly what you are looking for. Teri M. Bethel is a surface designer who specializes in teaching texture painting on fabrics and custom purses. Teri has been involved in manufacturing painted garments, handbags and souvenirs for over two decades. Email Teri@PaintWithTexture.com for more information.