Monday, December 1, 2014

Star boots

I never much cared for the taupe patent leather booties. They had the liquid murky look of a mud puddle, and they never seemed to go with any of my outfits. For about a year, I stored them at my boyfriend's sister's house as backup shoes in case of an overnight visit, but when she asked him to move all his stuff out so she could have a usable guestroom, suddenly they were back in my possession. I still loved the shape, and I still hated the color. I also had an idea for what to do with them.

Not too long before the Great Eviction, I had found a pair of boots I absolutely loved on a shopping site. They were in one of my favorite colors (fuchsia) and one of my favorite styles (lace-up) and one of my favorite motifs (stars). I would have bought them on the spot, except for the price, and the fact that they'd be pretty hard to find things to wear with. It's a good thing I waited, because they provided the inspiration for one of the most epic craft projects I ever undertook.

It started in September, when I pulled a can of house paint out of the shed. I was going to cover the taupe booties in a beautiful snow white coating. I thought about painting the zippers white too, but decided that after a couple of zips, most of the paint would be scraped off, and they'd look better in an enduring taupe than a flaking white. So I covered the zippers with duct tape and began.

This phase of the project was long. So long. I usually only had time to paint after I got home from work, and I needed to give the shoes two hours of drying time between coats, which meant that most days, I only got around to adding one coat. And it took a lot of coats to completely obscure the glossy base layer. I actually did not finish painting the boots white until late October. Then the project got derailed by the arrival of Halloween and the necessity of making the most awesome costumes imaginable.

And then after that, I had to delay for another week or so while I got around to finding pink paint for the stars. Then, once I had the paint, I had to make my own stencils.

This was an intimidating task, but eventually I found a star graphic online and printed out a bunch of copies of it in various sizes. Then I traced heavily over the printouts onto some heat-inking labels that I'd acquired from my previous job. Then I cut out the stars with an X-acto knife and waited for yet another week—we were hosting a Thanksgiving party, and I couldn't have shoe-painting detritus all over the house with guests around.

Finally, art time came. I deliberately did not look at the picture of the boots that had inspired me, because I wanted these shoes to be an original work. But I did remember that they had had a sort of airbrushed look, which I liked, so I decided to bust out my airbrush (haven't used it since I painted my car 5 years ago) and give it a go.

The strategically random placement of stars took me a couple of days, and when I decided there were enough, I stopped. The airbrushed effect was pretty subtle. I experimented with splatter painting with a brush, but I didn't like the effect, so I let well enough alone.

I finished up the paint job by painting the soles white (I considered pink but decided that would detract from the stars, and I wanted all eyes on them), and then set in on the laces. I had removed the laces before I even started painting the shoes and wrapped them around a lamppost to help smooth out their wrinkles. Now I unwrapped them.

I tossed them in a bowl of bleach mixed with water and let them sit for around a half-hour.

They emerged a pale yellow color that would be much more conducive to dyeing.

When they were dry the next day, I dumped them in another bowl of pink hair dye and a tiny bit of water to thin the dye, mashed them around in it so they would get saturated, and let them sit there (covered with plastic wrap so the dye wouldn't dry out) for several hours. They came out of the dye bath the perfect shade of deep magenta. I was really pleased with the results.

These shoes made their inaugural journey last Saturday, when I wore them to a dark bar where no one saw them. I had intended to go to karaoke, where they would be sure to get the attention that is their due on stage, but unfortunately, karaoke was not in the stars (hahaha) that night.

These boots aren't really made for walking (I know what karaoke song I won't be singing!). As I had feared, the paint is already starting to crack, and the color is smudging, so these delightful shoes won't ever become a wardrobe staple, but I hope I'll get another chance to wear them before they fall apart. 

1 comment:

  1. Those are some cool boots, Starchild! Do they come in my size?