For some reason, while doing research for this project I've been really drawn to yellow shoes. I don't know why--yellow isn't a color I usually wear, and it's not an especially iconic shoe color--but yellow shoes just kept popping up. Especially yellow shoes with floral designs.
So I decided I needed a pair.
Here are some of the originals I had in mind:
|embroidered shoes, 1750-1760|
|bronze shoes, 17755-1780 (via)|
|brocade shoes, 1750s (via)|
|yellow silk, 1730-1770 (via)|
I started with a pair of American Duchess Kensingtons in ivory, which I de-glazed following the instructions on the American Duchess site. I taped off the soles, inside the latchets, and around the edge with painters tape.
|ready to go!|
Then it was time to mix paints! I was really worried about getting a yellow color I liked. The yellow (I used Angelus leather paints) was very bright on its own, and I thought mixing with white would make it lighter rather than less neon-y. I ended up ordering both white and a very light gray called "bone" as potential mixers. I'm really glad I did--I ended up using both throughout the process. It took a little bit of experimenting, but I ended up getting a color I was happy with (involving yellow, bone, and white).
Then I let it dry, and got ready to stencil! Initially, I had planned to use a stencil and a sponge applicator, but the curvy shoe surface and the thin leather paint led to a lot of bleeding, and the first flower was a mess. I got some help from my resident painting expert (who also let me steal is setup) to fix up the edges as much as I could, but it definitely wasn't going to work as a method for the rest of the shoes.
|the messy stenciled flower|
After some thinking and poking and fussy noises (and overnight for the paint to dry completely), I decided to try tracing the stencil onto the shoe with pencil, and then painting it by hand. This worked much better!
|one toe box complete, one penciled and ready for paint|
Stenciling also felt very period appropriate to me. Stencil designs definitely existed, although not for shoes that I've found, and hand-decorating shoes led to some of the lovely embroidered examples above.
These were a lot of fun to paint, and a perfect "I'm too braindead to sew" project. I'm really happy with them, and I can't wait to get them on my feet!
|stenciling the side|