These loafers — well-loved but a bit dull — started out their second life when they were purchased in a thrift store for $5 by my favorite mixed-media artist, Erin Perry. They were plain tanned leather with that natural unfinished-leather look, and very, very comfortable — essential for an artist who leads a double life as a librarian!
With Erin’s consultation, we came up with a design that would use multiple-color sponging and quirky embellishments. I started by prepping the surface, then brushing on a coat of Lumiere’s Halo Violet Gold using a nice soft fan brush.
Next I used a sea sponge to sponge on two Lumiere colors, Super Copper and Metallic Bronze. (To learn how to sea-sponge, see this post.) Sea sponging gives you a soft dappled effect. If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can see how the subtle undercoat of Violet Gold shows through a little and gives the pattern more depth.
Erin liked the effect, but wanted something with a little more zip! So I used a technique we developed when painting ourleather couch (!), sponging with a George Forman synthetic sponge. Here’s a closeup. I used Neopaque Black for high contrast and got a nice speckled effect using the Foreman sponge. This type of sponge has little points that stay crisp no matter how much paint you get on them. For tips on using this kind of sponge, see the notes at the bottom of this post.
The next step was creating suitablly artistic embellishments for these formerly boring loafers! I started with a base of square, wavy-cut stone beads. I topped these with bronze disks that I’d colored with Staz-On ink, applied with cotton swabs. (Staz-On is permanent on metal once it fully dries.) Next came little enamel number plates, beloved of mixed-media artists. They have little holes on the sides so they can be attached to a page or collage with brads, so I covered those holes with black flatback crystals. The whole thing was glued together with E6000.
I also glued a dome back button converter on the back of the embellishment so I’d have little loops to use when attaching the whole thing to the loafers. I did that by stitching them on with Fireline and a nice strong, triangular-tipped leather needle.
Whew, I thought, and TA-DA! Finished!! My beloved mixed-media artist, however, is also into assemblage (adding 3-D stuff to mixed-media collage), so she thought the shoes needed something more. The answer was CHAIN.
She dug around in my chain stash and found a couple of short pieces of embossed copper chain, then convinced me to use E6000 to glue them onto her loafers. I agreed — rather reluctantly, because I thought the chain might work its way loose when she wore the shoes and the uppers had to flex and bend with her every step. But she’s worn them a fair amount now and the chain has stayed in place.
Here are the finished shoes. I guess you could call them assemblage on the hoof… as it were. Erin’s happily wearing them this weekend at a workshop in the San Juan Islands (I’M ONLY A TINY BIT JEALOUS) with HER favorite mixed-media artists, Lynne Perrella and Anne Bagby.