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Painted Leather Handbags

Personalize vintage handbags with paint and embellishments using this simple how-to from designers Melissa Neufeld and Chris Janze.

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, December 2010


  • Tooled leather handbag

  • Lumiere paint by Jacquard

  • Water-based varnish

  • Paintbrushes

  • Embellishments: Costume and vintage jewelry pieces, decorative chain, rhinestones, beads, findings, etc.

  • Devcon Flow-Mix 60-second epoxy

  • E-6000 glue


  1. Choose a palette of colors for handbag -- find inspiration from things like a magazine photo or a fabric print.

  2. Following the lines of the tooled leather design, paint handbag in desired colors. Paint entire background first, then fill in details. Note: Some colors may require two to three coats of paint.

  3. Seal entire bag with two coats of water-based varnish.

  4. Embellish the bag with costume and vintage jewelry pieces. Use 60-second epoxy for large and heavy embellishments, and E-6000 glue for the smaller embellishments. If you like, you can embellish the edge with a rhinestone chain or even replace the bag handle with an updated bead or metal chain strap.

  5. Allow bag to sit undisturbed while the glue sets (at least 24 hours) before using.

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