One of my buddies from the Peninsula Wearable Art Guild recently found these amazing late Sixties platform sandals on Haight Street in San Franciso (where else??). She brought them to a recent meeting and challenged me to turn them into Carmen Miranda shoes. “You know, lots fruit and maybe some palm trees,” she said. Sounded like fun to me!
I started by looking online for fake fruit. Big waste of time! It was either life-size (too big) or charm size (way too small). So I grabbed the shoes and went to Michael’s arts and crafts store. I had some of the same challenges there, but came away with some nice clusters of grapes, a couple of stems of overpriced (even with my discount coupon) flowers, and a few spare things like lime slices and cherry clusters. I also found some papier mache shapes that I could paint to look like lemons.
Then I got to work with my E6000 glue and my little clamps. (Since these shoes were for art purposes only, not to be worn, I could glue everything on, not carefully stitch on the fruit that would go on the toe and ankle straps.) There were some challenges in clamping the fruit in place until the glue dried, however. Some areas of the shoe were just too big to take a clamp.
I came up with two solutions for that. One was to use rubber bands around the platform to hold the grapes fast. The other was to create a sort of sling out of a scrap of fabric. I wrapped the scrap around the fruit on the toe of the sandal, then clamped the fabric together. Like a tighter version of the sling the stork uses to deliver babies….
I worked my way mostly around one shoe with these embellishments before realizing I ought to deal with the palm tree before making the shoe any bulkier! I hadn’t found any decent palm fronds to glue on, but I had dug up a palm-tree shaped mask (the opposite of a stencil) in my stash and used that to guide my unskilled hand to draw the palm tree.
I taped the mask in place with masking tape and outlined it with a gold pen. Then I used Lumiere’s Pearlescent Emerald to fill in the shape of the fronds, and Old Brass to fill in the trunk. A few more fruit and flowers later, I had the whole thing lavishly covered with appropriately Carmen-Miranda-style vegetation.