Traditional Bag Making Syllabus

Instructor Information

Name: Joseph P Marcellino


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Bio: Joseph is a graduate of The New School University, an award winning traditional bridle leather briefcase maker, one of the few left in the world that still uses Old World Hand Methods and is a master leather craftsman for his brand Marcellino NY.  He makes bespoke high-end leather bags for wealthy and professional clients around the world and has developed his own signature styles and bag hardware.  

Joseph is an artist and entrepreneur that has owned and developed successful businesses in the past.  He has appeared on the CNBC show Billion Dollar Buyer and was seen negotiating a major deal with the owner of Laundry’s  to carry his leather goods in The Golden Nugget Casino Hotels across the country.   He is also the author of American Briefcase Maker a memoir novel.

Course Description:

In this course, the student will acquire working knowledge of traditional vegetable tanned leather bag making skills and bring a conceptual design from paper to development.  We will use old world leathercraft techniques like hand stitching, cutting and evaluating leather, sketching, gluing, color dyeing, hammering, punching holes in leather with a chisel,  etc, to make a finished bag.

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Learning Objectives:

Students will be challenged to create a work of art that is 1) unique, 2) functional, and 3) at a certain retail price point.  Our goal is to understand the relationship between a true work of art and your ability to sell it for profit.

Course Activities:

Demonstrations, hands-on studio practice, presentations, and critiques


(based on 2-hour sessions)

Session 1

A Brief history of leathercraft and bag making, how leather is made, vegetable tanned and other types of leather.  Discuss, show techniques and practice on the tools used to make our bags.  Discuss types of bags to make and the parameters for this course 1) unique, 2) functional, and 3) $500 retail cost.  Plan for the final goal of making a unique bag.

Student assignment will be to bring in a sketch of their final bag to make by Session 3

Session 2

Discuss student ideas for their bags and begin to rough sketch them out.  make rough paper templates to get an idea of how the bag will form.  Practice with tools and hand stitching.

Session 3

Material list and Sketches of student bag projects will be finalized.  Students will begin to make paper templates and hand cut the individual leather parts.

Session 4

Once the leather parts are cut and edges are beveled they will be prepped, conditioned and color dye will be applied if needed.  The lining will also be glued during this session and left to dry.

Session 5

Trim the lining from the leather parts.  Dye and burnish the edges smooth to fuse with the lining leather.  Finish the edges with paint if needed.

Session 6

Scratch out edge lines to punch stitching holes for all the parts and begin aligning properly for hand stitching.  All holes for rivets will also be punched out.

Session 7

Hand saddle stitching will begin first on all the small parts like the handle and anything small that attaches to the bags.

Session 8

Hand stitching will continue with gussets and work towards the main parts being attached.

Session 9

All stitching will be done and the bags fully formed.  Bag edges where stitched parts were joined will be burnished and polished with paint if needed.

Session 10

Final bags will be presented to class and photographed.


Supplies Needed

(these link to suggested supplier)