Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Lots of things are a girls best friend: jewelry, clothes, dogs, and of course, SHOES! We wear them, we flaunt them, we pay thousands of dollars on a new pair (I have never done that, although it has been done), but what are shoes? They are protectors of of feet, reflections of who we are, to many people they are many things, so I ask you this question:
What are shoes to YOU?
As you meddle through that question keep it in the back of your mind, for as we up-cycle some shoes today, you will want to know what direction you're going with your 'new' kicks!
I also wanted to make a note that many people around the world do not have access to a single pair of shoes, so as you are creating, remember to have gratitude for the craftsmanship nestled in you hands. We are going to be spending some time with these shoes, getting to know them, getting to understand their curves and arcs- their textures and materials! It's all unique, every pair is a blank canvas. Shoes are not just made in a store, but but designed, re-worked, manufactured in many different places all over the world; every shoes has a story of its own. The shoes you are painting on- somebody crafted and designed them to be the size, shape, material that they are for a reason! Think about the hard work that went into creating the model before you, think about the kids that don't have a pair of shoes, remember it's a privilege to re-style a pair of old shoes. If you make a mistake, I dare you to try again! It's a work in progress; the best part about doing what we're doing is when paint dries, it's easy-peasy to paint on-top of! This is fun, I'm not going to lie- VERY experimental, but VERY FUN! So kick back, relax, and learn something new!
If you guys are ready, I say let's start!
This project, as I mentioned above, was and is largely experimental. The cream of the crop, the learning as we go, the completely and utterly experimental experiment of the ages. As I was testing it, I found it was like baking a cake with no idea what ingredients to use; I grabbed flour, sugar, and everything else that looks right- then threw it all together adding things here and there until woo-la! The mixture was cake-mix consistency! The shoes actually turned out as I was expecting! Guys, THIS IS AN EXPERIMENT, not all of us are going to end up with beautiful shoes, not all of us are going to end up with 'never-in-public' shoes. Have fun with it! I looked at this project not in terms of creating a pair of shoes, but more creating a representation of who I am; the layers of me! I might wear them out of the house- then again,- I'm a barefoot girl in a barefoot world just like my mama, so we'll see how that goes! ;-)
Now think back to that little voice in your head: What are shoes to YOU? I hope you have somewhat of an answer, but it's okay if you don't! In all honesty, I didn't figure out what my shoes were going to be until I added the details! This step can help you decide what colors your shoes are going to be (playful vs ombre vs matte), what designs you put on your shoes (animal print, flowers, shapes, a bit of everything), etc. Try your best to think of this before hand- It helps to have a plan, but completely fine if you don't!
Now It's time to gather your materials!
• An old pair of shoes (If you don't have one, I bet your local Goodwill does, or I know Michaels sells blank shoes for $5!
• Fabric Medium (I used Golden's GAC 900 fabric Medium)
• Acrylic paint (White to create a layer of 'gesso', and any other colors you'd like!) Many people have fancy paints they use for different surfaces, and you are more than welcome to use those, but for the sake of the experiment, I'm sticking with acrylic!)
• Paint Brushes (Although, you could do a finger painting approach and be successful!)
-A heat gun
-Trims, tassels, etc.
-Scissors for that trim!
-Hot glue gun...or just some strong glue!
Step 1: Gesso!
Now I know many of you probably have no idea what Gesso is! That's OKAY! All it is is a coat of medium that you apply to a surface which makes it easier to apply paint. If you have a canvas around your house from a local craft store, it most likely has gesso on it!
So, if you don't have the fancy gesso medium, what we're going to do is mix about a tablespoon of white paint with a teaspoon (maybe a little less) of fabric medium until it's a little thicker than cake batter- almost silky.
Next, you apply that medium to your shoes! Everywhere You'd like to paint- add the white!
Here is mine after the first coat:
It wasn't as potent as I would have liked, so I added a second coat, and that did the trick!
Can you tell the difference? It looks much cleaner with the second coat for sure which means it'll be smoother to paint on!
Step 2: Paint!
With all your paint, add a little bit of Fabric medium until your acrylic is silky. Add colors, get messy, experiment! I'm not going to give you a direction because I want you guys to challenge your minds creatively! Paint them your favorite color, add some stripes, make it a floral garden for all I know! All that I suggest before any details is ADD IN THE BACKGROUND COLOR FIRST! The last thing you want to do is paint a bunch of intricate flowers and have to go back in and touch up white spots potentially altering your hard work! Save yourself the step, and do the background first!
Here is what I chose to do with mine... Don't be fooled by the sloppiness, this is my first time painting on real shoes! :D
Step 3: Add the Details!
This is the FUN part- the experimentally FUN part! This is where you add those flowers, rhinestones, glitter, unique elements that elevates your shoe from piece to MASTERPIECE! Explore different things, try something you've never tried before!
I must say, I experimented with the heat gun because if you've ever embossed, you know that embossing powder is made of fine-grain plastic particles- Acrylic paint is plastic! I applied heat to my shoes and all these little bubbles arose- a red flag for some, but I just love the texture! achieving the bubbles works better with wet paint, but dry paint bubbled up some too. If you look closely at my shoes, you'll see and almost feel the texture!
After texture-izing, I decided to mess around with the messy-looking black soles; I added bright pink paint to them!
After this first layer of pink dried, I added two more to give it an opaque finish! The black was cool, but I loved how the pink was just a touch more joyful!
After completing the soles and heat-gunning away, I had to figure out my details:
I decided that I just wanted to add some pattern to the yellow part- that way it would be fun, but not too crazy! Go crazy with yours, tie-dye your shoes in a multitude of color and pattern- be YOU, HAVE FUN!! You can always paint over them, so be 'fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire!' (Gotta love those @Pinterest quotes!)
Going with some simple rainbows worked for me- I loved them, they made me smile, I added a simple/single one to the heel because it occurred to me that sometimes the rainbow is what creates sunshine- in my mind at least. Rainbows shine- full of color, and light, a colored spectrum of science! They bring joy to others just by being present, so I figured that would be a good reminder: Joy. That is what my shoes ARE! JOY!
I wasn't sure what my shoes mean't to me- that question I asked all of you above- it helps, but sometimes the best answers come from doing- going with the flow and creating from the heart!
Here are my rainbows:
Simple, yet they are so full of Sun- Shiny Joy!
Step 4: What's missing?... TRIM!
As you might recall from the last project, I love to dabble in gold accents, so after finishing the paint job I knew there was something I was lacking in all the joyfulness- the 'Oooo" in the 'ooo la la.' It hit me, Of course I couldn't leave them without trim! I mean, the paint was fun, but to really make them 'me' I added gold trim- throw some pompom's on there, ribbon, whatever you have lying around; make them uniquely yours! I just used hot glue to stick mine on, but any strong bond/ gorilla glue type substance should work well!
After the trim, I felt done! You can keep adding, keep experimenting, play around with them, enjoy this experiment!
ANNND the finished product.....
Painting shoes are fun, they're playful, and they can be very messy- it's how you embrace the mess and let loose that makes the constant creation and experimentation so much fun! I hope I've inspired you all today to try something new- whether that be painting, creating, maybe even baking! Things you love are within YOU- sometimes all it takes is a little nudge, a little creating, a little diversity to help those loves shine!
Have a BEAUTIFUL day! And wear those heels with pride!! Be fabulous, be bold, be YOU!