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Memories rest with keepsake pillows

A mother of six with a 1933 Singer sewing machine is trying to turn a hobby into a cottage industry.

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© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2001

CARROLLWOOD -- Tammy Bobo likes to sew. She enjoys Jewish-themed crafts. For years she has designed colorful Jewish prayer shawls, called talit. That she would know any leisurely pursuit is remarkable in itself; Mrs. Bobo is raising six children.

Three months ago, inspired by her daughters' bat mitzvah gifts, she decided to try her hand at keepsake pillows. Now she's turning the hobby into a business, displaying her creations at an open house last week in her Carrollwood Village home.

"I've always enjoyed playing with stuff like this," said Mrs. Bobo, 41. That stuff included pillows that use computer technology. Photographs, birth announcements and other written materials are scanned, then the images are transferred onto fabric. Special effects include a pillow made from the image of a wedding invitation, giving the impression that a thin sheet of tissue paper is draped across the text.

Not all images are scanned; some are drawn freehand. Mrs. Bobo stitches the swatches together, quiltlike, on a 1933 Singer sewing machine that "goes in one direction -- forward." Then she decorates them by hand with ornamental threads, beads and buttons.

"They're just eye-pleasers and something that's completely different," she said, estimating that she has filled 24 orders so far.

Other than a brief stint selling health care products, Mrs. Bobo has spent most of her adult life caring for children. Widowed seven years ago, she married Victor Bobo four years ago. He's a mortgage banker who helps her with the computer work. Combining their names, they call the business Vita Creations. Two of their children -- Collette Wells-Bobo, 14, and Kyle Wells-Bobo, 12 -- have taken an interest in the pillowmaking venture.

Mrs. Bobo sees Jewish centers as a major market, especially for her wall hangings. But she is open to the idea of other religious themes as well.

Unlike Monday's event, she expects she will conduct most of her business in public settings, such as bridal shows and coffee shops. Pillow prices start at $45.

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