Thursday, June 26, 2008
How to Paint Shoes
My examples were inspired by Missoni’s signature zig zag fabrics and Paul Smith’s swirling designs. Do not expect your design to come out looking smooth and even like screenprinting. Use the handpainted nature of your work to advantage, and don’t try to recreate a perfect factory made design. This is art, baby! Go with it…
Choose a pair of shoes in good repair, with an interesting shape for painting. A leather covered wedge or heel, or a pump with a lot of surface area might be perfect. Sometimes older shoes have more interesting shapes.
A light color is probably best, but you can cover a dark color. Thrift stores are fabulous sources as are the clearance racks of your favorite French mega store. (“Target” anyone?)
Lightly sand the surface you want to paint with very fine sandpaper. (Don’t turn your smooth leather into suede though!) You just want to roughen the surface up a bit so that the paint sticks well. I’m one of those “use what is lying on the table” kind of people, and have used an emery board with success. For paints, I have been using Jacquard paint’s Neopaque and Lumiere acrylic products to good effect. Their paints are formulated to cover well so you don’t have to apply it too thickly. Thick paint on shoes will peel. Don’t ask me how I know this… You can also add a little fabric paint additive to your colors to give a little more flexibility to your paint. I’ve not been scientific yet in my experimentation with this, nor I have yet tried the shoe “dyes” sold at shoe repair stores, but I would love to hear about your experiences!
(Missoni pointy flats $454 at Zappos.com)(Pagano DesignWorks wedges, based on Charles David shoes .99 cents at Savers!)Decide about how big you want your zig-zags to be. Lightly draw on straight lines where the zigs will zag. The lines do not need to be parallel…you can have wonky geometry. For the Paul Smith look, start off with an interesting swirl at the center of your shoe and work out from there. I planned my colors out in advance and did a little more mixing for the Missoni version ahead of time. The Paul Smith scarf I was emulating has swirls of mixing colors of paint, so I just allowed my colors to mix naturally.
Now the fun part, just paint! On the Missoni inspired examples, I added a little bit of sharpie marker since I thought my painted lines alone were looking too fat. (I was thinking of the fabric effect I wanted and added two thin lines with a slight checkerboard effect in between. My technique was very free and thread like…aka, I scribbled it on.) Once finished with both designs, I lightly applied some pearlescent paint mixed with “fabric medium” on top of all the colors. I think this smoothed out the application a little and made all the colors marry together a little better. I just used the edge of a rag and smoothed it on. Let everything dry overnight, then coat with a few thin layers of clear acrylic varnish. I used what I had…just something from the craft store, and I used the rag again to apply the clear coats. Let your new shoes dry for another day or two. I think that the extra time hardens the paint so that it doesn’t peel.
Enjoy yourself and the process! I look forward to seeing lots of handpainted shoes!