In my recent post on “More Shoes by Sassy Feet Fans,” I told you about my client Barbara Jo who ended up designing an embellishment for her own shoes. Now I’m going to tell you about the pair I painted and embellished for her.
Barbara is a woman who loves stylish shoes, but she also has very delicate feet so she’s really limited by what styles she can wear. She told me that she basically buys black shoes and brown shoes from a particular maker, inserts orthotics in them, and just lives with her limitations. When she found out that I could paint shoes for her, she was thrilled! She came by one day with two pairs of shoes. The black ones you saw in the earlier post. Here are the brown ones. They are made primarily of dark brown stretch fabric with a leather inset at the heel.
I also asked Barbara Jo to bring clothes in the colors she likes to wear, so I’d have some idea of what kind of color palette to work with. Here’s a closeup of what she brought.
Together we decided to do a sponged surface (like the one I did for my own purse, which I blogged about back in August). It’s a great effect for shoes or a purse that you want to wear with an array of different colors.
Based on the colors of Barbara’s clothes, I pulled out six different colors of Lumiere from my paint box: Pearl Magenta, Crimson, Burgundy, Halo Violet Gold, Grape and Metallic Bronze. These are dark and light shades of red, purple and bronze. I squeezed a little puddle of each onto a palette, then used a wedge-shaped cosmetic sponge to daub small amounts of the colors onto a sample scrap of leather. I didn’t pick up a big blob of each color — just a bit — and I didn’t mix the colors beforehand. I simply used the sponge to mix the colors on the leather itself. I also didn’t worry about the paint drying before I applied more. Here’s what the sample looked like.
Barbara came by and said she liked it. We decided to paint 2/3rds of the shoe and leave the rest brown. Barbara also picked out an embellishment I’d made — more on that in a moment. I started on the shoes by taping off the areas that wouldn’t be painted. I used drafting tape to cover the soles and the edge where the brown would meet the sponged purple-pink. This is because it’s hard to paint right up to an edge when you’re using a sponge instead of a paintbrush.
I also cut a little template to tape over the brown fabric back where the leather heel detail was. At right is a photo of the area I’m talking about. I did this by taking a sheet of printer paper and pressing it onto the raised leather area. Using the flat part of my fingernail, I traced the edge of the leather, then cut out the area along the line I’d made in the paper. I held the cutout up to the shoe to see if it adequately covered the brown fabric, trimmed it up a bit, then adhered it with double-sided tape. It didn’t need to be watertight at the edges, because all I was going to do was gently sponge on top of it.
From then on, I just kept sponging until I got a mixture of colors that looked like the sample I’d done. It takes a little courage to do this kind of shoe painting. I mean, you don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out. But you can always sponge over areas that you don’t like and eventually (unless you use too much paint and saturate your sponge) you get great results.
Here is the finished shoe, including the button-stack embellishment Barbara Jo chose, which I stitched on using FireLine. It consists of a butterscotch agate donut topped by a Chinese coin and a cast white bronze button.
Here’s the finished pair. Barbara Jo left my studio with them with a big smile on her face — and plans for what we could do to make her sandals look stylish for summer. Boy, do I love my job!