Mona and friend collage @150 dpi

Big initial M

In the six years I’ve been doing shoes, one of the consistent complaints I hear is from people who try to glue comic strips, gift wrap, printouts or other paper images to their shoes. Fact is, it just doesn’t work. Paper is neither sturdy nor flexible, and gluing it down with sturdy and flexible glue doesn’t magically make it so. After just one wearing, the paper starts to crack and flake off.

In the past I’ve recommended scanning the image onto your computer and printing it out on inkjet fabric, then gluing the fabric to your shoes. That works, but the fabric images are never quite as vibrant as the originals.

Shoe attitude-PackageThen I heard about a new product — a film — that you can print on, then paste onto shoes. It’s called KODAK shoe art film.  It won the award for best new product at last January’s Craft and Hobby Show, so I figured I ought to give it a try.

It costs $19.99 for six sheets of 8.5 x 11″ film, and from the online videos for it, it seems to be marketed toward kids and teens who want to pimp their Nikes, as it were. Still, the description said it would work on leather, so I ordered a package.

While I was waiting for it to arrive, I went online to find cartoons to use… and discovered I wasn’t really a cartoons-on-my-shoes type of person. So I ended up looking at famous old paintings, which had the additional advantage of no longer being under copyright.

I chose the Mona Lisa, whom I once had the privilege of spending time almost one-on-one time with during an early May morning at the Louvre.(Usually you have to wait in a long line then peer over other people’s heads to catch a glimpse, but we just walked down the long corridor, saw one man standing in front of her, and joined him. He left and we had several minutes alone with her. Fabulous!)

Then I went to find a shoe that would look cool with little Mona Lisas all over it. Here’s what I chose.

Mona before @150 dpi

The lines on the shoe suggested that I choose a second painting for the back section, so I picked Girl With a Pearl Earring by Vermeer.

When the shoe film came, I read the directions and discovered a couple of things. First it came with the glue you are supposed to use — but it was just an Elmer’s Extra Strength Glue Stick. Sheesh — not exactly permanent! I went to the Kodak Art Film site and read the FAQ

s. Turns out you are SUPPOSED to be able to remove the film….  Hmm. I went ahead with the project anyway.  Next thing I discovered was that the film would only work on a  light-colored shoe. Well, that’s what I’d chosen, but it would have been nice to know beforehand!

Art film in process @150 dpi

Last of all, I learned that I had to print the pictures as mirror images so the ink would be on the underneath side of the film as it appeared on the shoe. Okay, I could do that in my free photo editing program, Picasa.

DSC05343 @150 dpiI proceeded to make a collage of tiny little versions of each of the paintings (thank you again, Picasa), and printed out the film on my inkjet printer. Then I followed the fairly sparse directions for cutting up the images, applying glue to both the shoe and the film, and pressing the two together. This part was actually pretty easy, even cutting the film to fit the small curves and angles of the shoe.

When I was done (as you can see from the photos), I glued faux-suede trim around the throat of the shoe for a fancier look. DSC05337 @150 dpi

The film stretches so that it’s easy to wrap it around the toe and heel area and the glue holds it down fairly well. You can see in the photo below a little fold at the point of the toe, but that didn’t bother me as it’s not visible except from the side and REALLY close up.

DSC05341 @150 dpi

DSC05344 @150 dpiI liked the effect of using two different paintings and the way the images fit together on the shoe. Other than the non-permanence of the glue, my only criticism of this new product is that when the shoe bends and flexes, expecially across the toe, the image on the film starts to crease a bit.

I think if you want to use this on a firmer shoe, or just use it on the parts of the shoe that don’t get stressed by a lot of bending, you’d be fine. You could also experiment with glues that would permanently attach the film to leather or manmade leather. (Let me know if you find something that works and I’ll write about it in the blog.)

After I was done adding the trim, I realized that I wasn’t really done. I’m never really DONE when I do a shoe….  So I added a zipper rosette encircled with a zipper ruffle. I used a fairly heavy #5 jacket zipper and tinted the aluminum teeth gold with Staz-On stamping ink in a shade called mustard. For the details on how to make rosettes, check out this post. For detailed zipper-ruffle making info, read my article in the current Altered Couture.

Mona final from side @150 dpi

P.S. One of my favorite sites for buying heavier weight black zippers is B.Black and Sons

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