Custom Painted Leather Gifts

I know Christmas is past but gift giving is a year long challenge. Once you cross the line and start to make gifts the expectations get higher. Here’s some custom painted leather gifts that were a hit for me; no crazy shopping spree needed….

The ‘Blank’ Canvasses:

So what to paint on? ‘What image? If you listen carefully you’ll often get some hint of what type of things your recipient likes. I have painted on canvas shoes, leather shoes, new leather for mitts and purses, but there really is no limit to what you can customize. It’s not so much about the item as it is such a personal expression.

When starting to paint, if the item is leather or vinyl it is a good idea to take some of the finish off (as most have a coating to waterproof or protect) by wiping with acetone. You can buy an Angelus deglazer product as well if you like. If I am going to only add a small image then I use some q-tips so that I do not take too much finish off areas that will not get painted.

Which Paint to use?

I have been testing Angelus paint on a variety of things and I am quite impressed. This paint covers well, and has a nice consistency that not too thick or too thin. I manage quite well mixing the primary colours and white & black.

One of my dear animal lover friends deserved a cute pair of warm mitts. I used my mitten pattern but decided to paint ‘paws’ first. This butter soft leather was a high end coat in it’s prior life. The base coat of white paint allows the lighter colours to cover better.

I wanted to keep the painted leather simple… not too realistic. Hint: highlights on the top and shadows on the bottom help give dimension.

The faux fur back makes them quite warm with a sweater knit cuff. I think they were a hit! How cute is that?!

Tweeting More Options:

We always feel pressure about what we give. Is it too expensive, impersonal, we constantly second guess ourselves. We just want to convey that they are special enough in our eyes to get a gift from us. Again, this special person has a love for birds, so I wanted to make it a subtle addition to a nice quality leather purse. That also makes the pressure much smaller than if it is covering the item.

To integrate it into the dark background I added some blue sky. Once you have deglazed and added the white base layer you can draw on it to plan. I always use some form of reference…

A bit here and there:

If you can’t draw (too many people proclaim that before they even try!) you could transfer an image using a carbon transfer paper

This fellow (actually a female cardinal) came together quite quickly. ‘She’ is also quite small so it does not go out of fashion quickly. It was very well received and you will see why…

For the back I added another small version of the bird in flight.

I remember being an illustrator (decades ago) and we would collect paper pictures and file them for image reference… Imagine that?! We had to did through drawers of of images! We DID NOT have Google to offer a few million choices in half a second. So I think you too can find something to use as a reference.

You need matching shoes:

Well, the next occasion was quite easy as I found a nice pair of shoes to accompany the purse.

No one is going to get up too close to these little paintings! Birds are quickly becoming a favourite. (I also see that from one of my popular bird posts) Not everyone wants to wear shoes covered in images like I do so it was safe to keep it smaller.

What to go on the other shoe, a cardinal of course! Go ahead; doodle some birds and see how easy they are…

Give the shoes a good polish with some protector after giving the painting a layer of finish. Angelus makes some finishers in matte. I use my acrylic matte medium quite successfully. I have been impressed at how well these paints last on the leather, suede, and canvas.

Well, yes before you know it you will be looking at your wearables with different eyes! I always wanted these to be black soooo, now they are black, with some fun embellishments that are only seen when off my feet! I wore them all last summer with no chipping.

Cleaning out your closet? Now you can breathe new life into something that could be improved with a bit of paint! The environment will thank you for tossing less in the landfill! Happy customizing with paint!

For all you Bird-lovers; you can also make some sweet 3D ones whose wings can open and close with my unique design or make some other bird decor.

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  1. hi
    i am thinking of doing a simple nice belt with chords…and not sure since i can only braid. ty for your inspiration. it helps me.