Ordinary paint won't remain durable on a handbag, because it can't bend along with the underlying material. To generate an attractive finish that will remain durable for a long time, apply a special type of paint based on the composition of the handbag you're working with.
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The Wrong Paints
Ordinary latex, acrylic and oil paints won't last long on a handbag. Best suited for relatively rigid surfaces that don't bend, these paints will crack and flake off of flexible surfaces such as leather, canvas and fabric handbags.
Fabric paint is suited for canvas and flexible fabric handbags. Unlike latex, acrylic and oil paints, fabric paint can absorb deeply into natural and synthetic woven fibres and won't split or flake as the handbag moves.
Leather paint is a special finish specifically made for leather items. Elastic enough to move along with flexible surfaces, leather paint is well-suited for real and faux-leather handbags. Unlike ordinary paint, leather paint won't crack as the handbag moves and will maintain its initial colour and sheen after extended exposure to duress. Clean leather handbags with leather bleach--using a wool dauber--before applying paint, or poor adhesion may lead to flaking.
You can encourage a longer-lasting finish on canvas and fabric handbags by diluting the fabric paint prior to application. Add 1 or 59.1ml. of water to each quart of fabric paint. This will encourage better absorption and prevent premature wear. Be sure to stir the diluted fabric paint for at least four minutes to prevent streaking. Add two to three thin coats rather than a single heavy layer.
Plastic and Vinyl Handbags
Plastic and vinyl handbags don't hold paint well. However, you can generate a relatively durable finish if you use a paint specifically designed for nonporous, flexible surfaces. Called flexible vinyl spray paint, this finish is typically used on interior automotive vinyl and other pliable surfaces. Wash the handbags thoroughly before spraying the vinyl paint onto the plastic or vinyl, or poor adhesion will cause flaking.