D I mentioned to Margot quite a while ago that tattoo-flash-inspired designs might make great DIY shoe decorations. “Tattoo flash” refers to the classic stock images you see on the walls of many tattoo shops. They are (usually) colorful, graphic and vivid.  We chatted about the idea for a bit, but nothing really came of it. It just got filed in the way-back of my brain.

Before shoe During a visit a couple weeks ago, Margot said, “Remember how you wanted to do tattoo designs on shoes?  I think I have the perfect pair for you.”  She had purchased on sale a sexy pair of Steve Madden natural leather peep-toe heels that have a wonderful stacked wood effect on the heel. She offered them to me to “ink.”  They were sassy, sexy, and very, very retro looking.

So I took them home and thought about what the shoes needed.  I wanted to do something feminine – not too hardcore or edgy, but recognizably tattoo-esque.  I thought a Traditional Americana style would work well since the shoes had a retro feel.  I found some reference images on Google and went to work.

I thought since the natural leather looked rather soft 005 and supple, Lumiere would be too luminous and shiny, so I used Angelus Leather Paints instead.  Angelus dries with a matte finish, but adheres just as wonderfully to the surface as Lumiere.

First, I used Angelus’ Preparer-Deglazer on the areas I was going to paint. Then, using a fine script brush, I got  cocky and tried to paint the design outline freehand. Needless to say, that didn’t work well.  But, I did find out that if the paint is mostly wet, the Deglazer WILL take it off the leather. WHEW!  My Plan B was to first sketch everything with a ballpoint pen (which comes off EASILY using the Deglazer).  After I had my design sketched on, I started by using the fine script brush and painted the outline of the design in black.  On the toe of the shoe, I used magenta to paint the inner petals on all of the flowers.  The outer petals are done in pink. Next, I painted all the leaves in light green, then I used turquoise for all the scrolly flourishes and flower middles. I finished the banner with bronze.

Flashy shoe

On the upper part of the shoe, I used many of the same colors plus scarlet red on the heart, buttercup on the bird’s belly and some rose petals, orange on the rest of the rose petals, and sapphire and dark blue on the wings.  After all my colors were done, I decided to take a toothpick to add in some silver details on both the heart and wings, as well as put the word “SASSY” in the banner. Lastly, I used a bit of yellow to give the leaves some more dimension. Tattoo Angelus does make an Acrylic Finisher that comes in a variety of finishes (from matte to glossy) but many times Margot and I have found the finishers and sealers can discolor natural leather, so I decided not to use it for fear it would do that here.  I will end this blog by saying how “stoked” I am at the result of these shoes and include a photo of my own fabulous tattoo (done by Jay’e Jones at Strata Tattoo Lab), albeit not in the Traditional Style but very awesome, none-the-less.

PS: If you don’t think you are artistic enough to paint something like this onto your shoes, don’t worry! Try printing out the design you like, do a rough cut around it, rub the back with chalk (in a color that contrasts with the shoe), lay the paper onto the shoe, and follow the outline with a pencil or pen.  This will transfer the chalk onto the shoe and give you a guide with which to paint your outline.  The rest is like a coloring book, just fill in with your desired colors!  If you’re nervous, practice on scrap material or paper until you get the hang of it.  And remember, YOU CAN ALWAYS PAINT OVER IT!

PPS: These are brand new Steve Madden heels, size 9.5M US.  For $175.00, they are yours ( email me if interested: )!

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