In just over two weeks, Margot and I will be teaching and selling our cool products at Costume College 2012 in Woodland Hills, CA. Costume College is a conference for costuming enthusiasts who create anything from historical to science-fiction to fantasy costumes. Donning costumes, attendees will be able to celebrate their creative craft, learn new skills, and buy supplies to satiate all their costuming needs.
Margot and I have done a shoe or two in our day, but nothing really with a certain era or a specific genre in mind. So we have plenty of shoes that “would do” for the event, but we wanted to create a few new and amazing designs for this exact occasion.
Since I love steampunk, my hand shot up like lightning when that genre was mentioned. OH ME! MEEEEE! PICK ME, PLEEEEASE MARGOT! She did. (Well, how many people did she have to choose from?) Here’s how I did it.
I rummaged through our stash of shoes until I found a leather boot that had a Victorian look.
First I removed the laces and prepped the shoe with a cotton ball dampened with rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt or coating from the leather. (I would have used acetone if the shoes were manmade leather.) Then I poured out a quarter-size dollop of Metallic Rust paint and rubbed on a thin, uneven coat with a paint rag — I wanted the boots to look worn and battle weary. If you do this, be sure to dab the rag on a paper-towel first or you might end up with too much paint on the shoe.
Next, since the ribbon laces on the original boot were not functional (the boot zipped up on the inner side), I replaced them with some woven pieces of cord that I knotted together. This added to the “makeshift” look I was going for.
I wanted to add a leather flap the would extend across the laces, so I sketched out the shaped I had in mind, then cut a test piece out of craft felt — it’s cheaper to ruin than leather! After trimming the felt to get the exact shape I wanted, I traced the shape onto a scrap of crackled black leather we had in our stash and cut it out. To give the edges an extra aged look, I used a little more Metallic Rust and my fingertip to smudge the edges of the flap. Then I attached the flap just inside the zipper with Beacon 527 (we recommend this for gluing leather to painted leather) and clamped it for about 20 minutes.
To make the buckle and short strap, I cannibalized a dorky boot bracelet from another pair of boots. I cut off the leather holding the metal ring in a point and measured how much of the remaining strap I would need to reach around the boot and fasten. I cut that end in an angle so it aligned with the zipper. Then I used Beacon 527 to attach the leather strap/buckle combo to the boot.
Finally, the hardware — no steampunk design is complete without it! I dug through all the trays of findings, buttons, embellishments, and beads we have until I’d amassed a healthy stack of things that looked like they might fit the post-apocalyptic/steampunk theme. I began playing with stacks of cogs, gears, metal bits and sprockets until I was happy with the arrangment.
In my mind, I wanted the flap to look like it locked on to the boot, like the gears actually interlocked. I settled on some pieces from Tim Holtz, a button from Treasure Cast, a watch part, and quite a few metal bits — washers and so on — that came from the hardware store.
Once I was happy with my stacks of things, I took a photo with my phone, and unstacked everything. Then I squeezed a small glop of E6000 onto a silicone mat. With a toothpick, I applied the E6000 where the two surfaces would touch and pressed each pair of embellishments together. I let them set up long enough so they were firm (if not fully cured), then used E6000 to glue them in place on the boot. E6000 does take 24 hours to cure completely, so don’t wear your creations the same day!
What a stellar transformation! Perfect for any Post-Apocalyptic Airship Captain!