I hate to change purses. I’m very picky about the shape and size and compartments in a purse, and when I find one I like, I use it until it falls apart. That happened recently to an old favorite, a natural-tone leather purse with embossed curling leaves on it. I had already given it a facelift by painting the embossed design (see the before and after photos below), but finally the leather itself started to disintegrate and I knew it was time to move on.

Flowers and flourishes2 before at 72dpi

Flowers and flourishes after at 72dpi

Margot's purse before at 72dpi First stop, the thrift store. That’s where I found a black leather shoulder bag in good condition for $10. It’s got a zippered compartment inside and pocket that closes with a snap on the outside.  I had been wanting to try a color-layering technique and the flat sides of this purse made it the ideal candidate.

For the underneath layer, I chose a palette of Lumiere paints in Metallic Rust, Super Copper, Pearlescent Violet, Metallic Olive Green, and Metallic Russet. (Basically, I picked colors I liked that seemed like they’d work together while still providing some contrast.)

I used the broad end of a wedge-shaped cosmetic sponge to dab on the colors in no particular pattern. Here’s what the first layer of paint looked like on the back of the purse.

Margot's purseStep 1 at 72dpi

Next I used a lighter-toned palette of Metallic Bronze, Brass, Halo Pink Gold, Halo Violet Gold, and Pearlescent White for the second layer. The idea was that the darker colors would show through these lighter ones for a lovely mystical effect. Nope. What actually happened was that the lighter colors pretty much obscured the darker ones because Lumiere paints are opaque, especially when applied in multiple coats, which was the result I got when dabbing with the cosmetic wedge…. Here’s the result (on the front).

Margot's purseStep 2 at 72dpi

It was too pale for my taste! So I got out the first group of paints and daubed over this coat until I had the darker, more metallic effect I’d been aiming for, which you’ll see in the photos below.  Next I dug through my stash of copper chain and strung three lengths of it across the front of the purse. While I was digging, I came across a sample of bronze chain mail I’d gotten a couple of years ago from the web site The Ring Lord. I stitched it on the front of the bag, imagining it would make a really nice diamond shape.

Margot's purseStep 3 at 72dpi

Live and learn…. Because the chain mail was suspended only from its points, it drooped and looked sort of saggy. So I got out my E6000 glue, which will glue metal to painted leather, and applied it to the top two droopy edges. I let it set for 24 hours. It dried clear and firm.

Margot's purse after at 72dpi

Much better!  I also dabbed the center copper chain with some StazOn rubber-stamping ink in Blazing Red. StazOn is permanent on metal, although I usually add a sealant over it if I’ve colored a solid piece of metal. (Putting sealant over the chain would have had the effect of gumming the links together and making the chain stiff — not the desired effect!)

The finishing touch was a GIANT Asian coin with an open square of Paula Radke‘s dichroic glass glued on top. The hot orange-red color of the dichroic glass picked up the red of the inked copper chain for a nice effect. Here’s a closeup.

Margot's purse closeup at 72dpi

After using my “new” purse for about a week, I decided I needed to glue the lower two sides of the chain mail diamond to the leather, too. Now my purse has a nice crisp diamond of chain mail on it — but you’ll forgive me, I know, for not taking yet another photo of it!

One nice thing (other than having a new purse that I love) is that almost every time I am out and about in stores, a woman stops me to admire my purse. And I get to say, “I did it myself!”

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