It was the summer of 1969, I had just turned 19 and was spending the summer selling ladies knitwear (that’s British for sweaters) at Liberty’s of London. My girlfriend Rachel was selling yards goods (translation: fabric). Despite working 5.5 days a week, having to eat in the employee canteen, and always having to find someone else to ring up our sales (foreigners were not thought competent to handle pounds, shillings, half crowns, thruppence, tuppence and pence), we had the time of our lives!
One Sunday I was wandering through a street market when young man with long curling hair and the physique of an undernourished bass player stopped me to say, “Hey, those are COOL shoes!!!”
I was wearing some red Minnetonka beaded moccasins that I was rather fond of. I had bought them at a giant moccasin outlet in southern Vermont the spring before and I was not about to sell them off my feet. I indicated as much to the hungry guitarist. He was adamant. He HAD to have those moccasins!! Would I take 5 pounds, 10 pounds, 15 pounds for them???
Well, Rachel and I were earning 10 pounds a week (the equivalent of $24), so I began to see some sense in the transaction. Long story short — and having absolutely refused to also sell him the well-worn jeans off my butt — I met him at the market the next Sunday and swapped my apparently unique mocs for his welcome pounds.
Advance the clock 45 years and we come to last December when I got an unaccountable yearning for moccasins again. Only this time I wanted them in sparkly silvery gray.
So I went on ebay and was startled to discover what they cost. Still…. I found a pair that obviously no one wanted because the area over the toes had been painted gold, and the paint had started flaking off.
I bought them and when they arrived, I brushed them well to get the surface dirt off, then I used acetone on a cotton ball to try to rub off the gold paint. It worked pretty well! It certainly got the paint down to just a few traces near the stitching.
Then I got out my Lumiere paint in Pewter, chose a fairly firm brush from our brushpack (since I knew I would want to work the paint into the brushed cowhide, not just gently lay it on the surface, as we do with smooth-leather shoes).
I ended up applying one coat with some touchups in a few areas — and I loved it!! These were exactly what I had been picturing. I have to admit that orginally I wanted to paint AND glitter my moccasins, using a topcoat of our absolutely gorgeous new Gunmetal Glitter It Glaze, but…
I ended up deciding just to stick with the Pewter. Heck, I can always glitter them later if I want.
I took one final step before deciding I was done. That was to get rid of the big unwieldy bows that the original moccasins had. Instead I tied a square knot and cut off the excess. I may trim the tails even shorter, but I want to be sure the knots will hold before I go that far.
Late last week I was having breakfast in an extremely hip (translation: black walls, free condom machine on the wall, skeleton motif) coffeeshop-cum-hair-salon in the down-at-heel part of Hollywood (long story, but they did have good food), when the waiter stopped in his tracks and said, “Cool shoes!!”
Nice to come full circle — but I didn’t sell them to him.