In love with Anuschka hand-painted leather bags??! Then you’ll be interested in the leather painting tutorial that I’m featuring today.
Learn how to Paint a Leather Bag… actually: Leather Bags, Belts & other Accessories
Painting leather goods is one of the traditional art forms that Italy is famous for. Here you can find the most exquisite leather bags, belts and other personal leather ware that’s exquisitely hand-embellished.
Virtuoso aside, many of us could create a reasonable result by hand painting a vintage leather bag, be that either a ‘Goodwill’- find, an ‘out-of-date’ Dolce Gabbana bag, or a Moroccan tooled leather bag.
(Tip: If you are an absolute beginner painter and wish to work with a new bag that’s easy to paint, choose a tooled bag with existing shapes and forms already on it. )
What you’ll Need
- Tooled leather handbag
- Lumiere paint by Jacquard
- Water-based varnish
- Stencil Paper, pencil and white chalk pencil
- Embellishments: Costume and vintage jewelry pieces, decorative chain, rhinestones, beads, findings, etc.
- Devcon Flow-Mix 60-second epoxy
- E-6000 glue
How to Make Your Own Painted Leather Handbag
2. Depending on how experienced a painter you are, you may wish to try out different color combinations in watercolor on art paper, so see which effects you prefer. Such hand-drawn sketches make great gift note cards, btw…
3. First paint your background and then overlay the design and then do your detailing last. For the bag background, you’ll use your biggest brush. For the bigger lines, it’s best to use mid-sized brushes. Leave your fine brushes alone till the very end, when you’ll be doing the detailing of the bag design. Make sure your brushes are clean, and choose rather soft rather than brittle brushes as you’ll see some of the brush strokes on your bag. You want it to look smooth overall.
When planning your 3 painting phases, realize that some colors may require several coats of paint. Allow for drying time, as well as contemplation time. This is not a project to rush.
3a. When choosing a tooled leather bag, it’s really easy: just following the lines of the tooled design, fill in with colors and add details when flat fields of color are dry.
3b. If you use a non-tooled leather bag, I suggest you first create your design in pencil on transfer paper. This transfer paper design can then be used as a stencil.
To use it as a stencil, on the reverse side of the paper, fill in your design lines with a white chalk pencil. Then overlay the stencil flat on your leather bag (with the chalked side toward the bag) and rub firmly with your nail (or an equivalent firm tool) till the chalk design is applied to your bag.
Stencils are particularly useful for fast application of recurring motifs. You can do the background of these motifs with a stencil and then detail them freehand. Now, if you are an experienced artist, I don’t need to tell you anything: just go ahead and paint your style, your way.
4. When your paint is dry, seal the bag with two coats of water-based varnish. This will protect the paint and avoid later watermarks on your design.
5. If you wish, you could take highlight your design a little more and embellish your bag with costume and vintage jewelry pieces. 60-second epoxy is good for large and heavy embellishments, and E-6000 glue for the smaller embellishments. For extra glitter and fancy, consider bead or rhinestone chains for edges and flaps, straps or handles.
6. Allow bag to sit undisturbed while the glue sets (at least 24 hours) before using.
And there you go. Now you know how to paint a leather bag. Want more help & ideas? Check out the below ‘how to paint a leather bag – techniques’ video as well….
How to Paint a Leather Bag Video
How to create a ‘follow-the-line’ leather painting design on a tooled leather bag can be found here. It features how to personalize vintage handbags with paint and embellishments with tips from designers Melissa Neufeld and Chris Janze.
Where to Find
There’s a huge collection of tooled leather handbags in all shapes and forms on eBay. Lumiere paint by Jacquard, watercolor sketching, transfer paper, and white chalk pencils are available at JW Right-Step water-based varnish in Gloss, Devcon Flow-Mix epoxy and Eclectic Products adhesive glue is available on Amazon.
Photo credits: stencilling (Kristine Mueller), tooled leather bag designs (Martha Stewart), Handpainted leather bag with lotus (Anuschka), and D&G Snow White Painted Leather Wristlet (Dolce & Gabbana).