Big initial MLast winter, my favorite person in my life, Erin Perry, took a wonderful mixed-media art workshop in Taos, New Mexico with her favorite teachers, Lynne Perrella and Anne Bagby. While she was there — as is her wont — she told them all about Sassy Feet. As it turned out, Anne and Lynne loved the idea of painting their own shoes, so I sent them each a copy of my book.

A few weeks later, a mystery envelope arrived in the mail for me. It was stuffed with small sheets of Anne’s fabulous artisan papers — painted, collaged, stamped and more. Well, I took one look at them and started figuring out how to use them on … SHOES, of course! The problem was that while you can easily glue paper to leather, the paper will crack the first time the shoe bends. I decided that the only way to do it was to get Anne’s decorated papers onto fabric.

Anne bagby papers at 72 dpi I picked a assortment, lay them on the bed of my scanner, and scanned them into a jpg file on my computer. I knew I would lose some of the detail and perhaps some color intensity in doing so, but I decided I could compensate for this a little bit with the photo editing program I use (Picasa, which is free from Google). If you don’t have a scanner, you could simply take photos of the papers with a digital camera. Then I loaded my inkjet printer with Avery Inkjet Fabric sheets and printed the scanned images onto fabric. You can see them above, as they looked after I cut them out with pinking shears.

Anne bagby scraps at 72 dpi The next step was to cut up the fabric into lots of little pieces so I’d have a ready palette of bits for doing collage. I used pinking shears to do this so I wouldn’t have to worry about the edges raveling.

I was doing these shoes for Erin, since she loves Anne Bagby’s work so much, and she picked a pair of black leather sandals that would be comfortable and have plenty of room for the collage to show itself off.

Anne bagby shoes before at 72 dpi You’re going to wonder why I took the next step, which was to paint the shoes. After all, the fabric collage was going to cover all the black leather, yes?  Yes, but the glue I most prefer to use is called The Ultimate, and it works best on painted surfaces. So if I painted the sandals, I could use it foAnne bagby shoes interim at 72 dpir the fabric collage.

I prepped the surface with rubbing alcohol and painted the shoes Metallic Rust. Design-wise, it actually helped to be collaging over a surface that was painted a less stark color.

When I do fabric collage on shoes, I start at one edge of the area to be covered and work from there. I squeeze glue onto the edges of the wrong side of the fabric and press it into place. I don’t try to cover the entire back side of the scrap with glue. No need. Also, if you try this, I highly recommend investing 89 cents in a Fine-Tip Glue Applicator. I use these all the time. You just squeeze glue from your big bottle into this little one and it not only enables you to squeeze out a fine line of glue, it’s a lot kinder on the muscles in your hand.

Anne bagby WIP 1 at 72 dpi Here is what the sandal looked like as I started collaging onto it. From there it was a matter of picking pieces that would contrast with each other, snipping them to size (if need be) with my pinking shears, applying glue and pressing them down. It really goes quite quickly.

The end result is, I am sure, the only pair of Anne Bagby shoes in the known world.

Anne bagby shoes after at 72 dpi

Before I close, I want to apologize for not posting last week. Destiny and I try to post every Sunday or Monday, but last week my car decided to fling itself off an isolated country road and do a sideways somersault before landing right side up in a creek bed. No one was injured, thank heavens, but I was feeling pretty scattered for a while afterward. It was like being on an incredibly short and tremendously expensive amusement park ride. And I am grateful beyond words that Erin and I stepped out of the car without a scratch on us. 

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