There’s one craft technique we haven’t written about before and that’s rubber stamping on shoes. It’s a little tricky since shoes don’t present a flat, hard surface like paper does, but with a little care and the right inks, the results can be very cool!
The key is to use the right kind of ink, the kind that will work on leather. You want to use alcohol inks, either StazOn or Ranger’s Adirondack Alcohol Ink (both are easily found online and in crafts stores). They come in LOTS of colors and you can use them to tint metal, too. (I often use these inks to add a vintage patina or “paint” brass stampings, as I did on the heart shown here. In this case, I used a Q-Tip to apply the color. Once the ink is dry on the metal, it’s permanent.)
After the ink, the next consideration is which rubber stamps to use. You won’t be able to get as fine and crisp an image as you can on paper, but if you choose a stamp with somewhat less detail, you’ll do fine. For my project, I chose alphabet and number stamps.
Next think about the kind of shoes you want to stamp on. You will need to be able to reach inside them and provide a firm “backing” so that when you press the stamp into the leather, the leather won’t give. You can use your fingers to provide this backing or you can slide a small square of wood (or something similar) inside.
I had an old pair of very comfortable Dansko sandals that I thought would work. I didn’t want to paint them, because I liked their natural leather color. But they were so PLAIN…. I just had to do something to them!
I started by cleaning the surface (rubbing them with a cotton ball dampened with alcohol), as I would if I were going to paint them. For my colors, I chose StazOn’s Timber Brown, Olive Green and Rusty Brown (pepped up with a couple of squeezes of Adirondak’s Raisin). Then I pressed the stamp into the ink pad and started stamping with abandon (which is pretty much how I do everything)!
That’s when I discovered a little more finesse was needed. These particular stamps were not cut very deeply, and as a result, the edges of the stamp block picked up ink (see photo below) and transferred it to the sandals. That’s what the little lines and squares are outside the numbers and letters.
I discovered that I could avoid the edges getting inked by dragging the stamp across the stamp pad instead of pressing it in. I could also use a little StazOn All-Purpose Cleaner and a Q-Tip to wipe off the corners before stamping.
I decided to stamp one sandal with letters and one with numbers. I also decided to angle some of the stamps, even do some of them upside down.
It took awhile to stamp all these little numbers and letters, but I just fired up my favorite Netflix TV show and the time passed quickly. I love the result!
I think it would be fun to try this on a handbag — easy to reach inside it, too, to provide a firm surface for the stamps. If you try this technique, take before and after photos and send them in.
P.S. These inks will also work on painted leather/manmade leather, as on this little Pewter-painted cross-body bag. It was my first stamping experiment, so it’s a little messy, but it proves you can do it!