Ah, Mardi Gras! The ultimate party where people strut their stuff with delight and abandon! This year Destiny and I were asked to contribute some of our “shoe art” to the San Luis Obispo arts organization‘s Mardi Gras fundraiser, Walk on the Wild Side!
A dozen artists were asked to contribute, and they have assembled an art auction with fused glass shoes, a shoe-shaped purse, pottery shoes, paintings of shoes, even a found-object plant arrangement reminiscent of shoes. For a peek, click here and scroll way down to “Shoe Show.”
Destiny and I altered the heck out of a pair of Victorian style booties, giving them a hint of brothel naughtiness and a lot of party attitude, but keeping them totally wearable.
I’m going to tell you how we made these and show you a lot of work-in-progress pictures, but first how about a peek at the finished product?
We started by looking at the architecture of the boot, and we asked ourselves, What is already there for us to work with? We looked at the different stitching lines and how the boot worked. For example, despite the buttons and loops down the front, the boot actually fastened with a zipper up the inner side. We came up with a plan for color-blocking the bootie, then chose paint colors, glitter colors, and embellishments.
The first thing we did was to cut off those tan loops! They were sort of utilitarian-looking. Besides, it’s hard to get great results painting over elastic. I’ll walk you through the rest of the steps, using more photos than words to show you how.
We chose three basic colors for the color block areas: gold, copper and purple (which looks more like blue in these photos!). We painted the three areas with Lumiere in Sunset Gold, Super Copper and Grape. Then we painted the tongue of the boot and the buttons with Neopaque Black.
To keep the black paint from smudging onto the gold, we cut little squares of card stock, punched a hole in the middle to accomodate the shank of the buttons, then cut a slit from the edge to the hole and slid these little “shields” over the buttons. This saved us a lot of time doing touchups!
The next step was to apply our Glitter It! glitter paint over the gold and copper areas. We used Antique Gold and Copper, and applied it by patting it on gently with a fan brush. (That “we” is a lie — Destiny did the glittering. She’s much better at it than I am!) It took two coats of glitter to get a perfectly even effect.
For a little extra sparkle, we then glued size 20SS (4.8mm) amethyst-colored flatback Swarovski crystals onto all the buttons, using E6000 dabbed on with a toothpick.
Having the basic design done, we dove into our stash to dig up exciting, quirky, colorful and outrageous trims and accents that would give our bootie some real ZING! We brought a big basket of possibilities to the craft table and started holding up various combinations, sometimes tacking them in place on the bootie using earthquake putty (a common household item here in California!).
Our first decision was to combine orange guinea-feather pads, two squares of perforated purple suede and two black beaded appliques into a pair of embellishments we would attach at a jaunty angle to the top of the boot. We glued the various pieces together and when they had dried, glued the whole thing to the bootie.
When we were pawing through our pile of trims, Destiny’s eye had been caught by a pair of gold-embroidered appliques, which she thought would look great on the toes of the boots. She touched up the lower edges of the appliques with the Grape Lumiere paint so there would be touches of purple in three places. We fiddled around with the placement (using earthquake putty), then glued the appliques down using E6000.
Next — WHAT? THERE’S MORE? Yes. When you are altering or upcycling shoes for a really special occasion, when you want them to truly be wearable art, don’t stop too soon. Always consider whether you could add something else that will really make the design POP!
We added three more things! First, Destiny painted little black zebra stripes on the heel, with gold edges, to echo those on the appliques.
Next, we glued ruffled nylon net around the top edge of the bootie. And finally, we laced up the buttons with very narrow black double-faced satin ribbon.
At this point, we conceded that we were done. Even with our fertile imaginations (and huge stash) we could think of nothing else that our Bourbon Street Beauties needed!
This is my very favorite kind of project, one we do together, where our different skills, gifts and tastes find a way to weave themselves into something entirely new and unexpected — our version of laissez les bons temps rouler!