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40 mins

Material World
Making a pair of shoes from scratch is hardly feasible (for that you’ll need a whole workshop of highly experienced craftspeople), but customising plain ones is an effective way to craft unique shoes you love.


It’s fiddly, but not difficult.


A weekend.

Posted by Ebury Publishing Published See Ebury Publishing's 80 projects » © 2024 Perri Lewis / Ebury Press · Reproduced with permission. · Material World by Perri Lewis (Virgin Books, £18.99)
  • Step 1

    STEP 1

    If you’ve got a pair of patent shoes, give them the once over with a piece of fine sandpaper to help the glue stick. Otherwise, just make sure they’re clean and dry.

    STEP 2

    Organise your stamps before you start sticking, either by colours or pattern. You want approximately the same number and style of stamps to decorate each shoe.

    STEP 3

    Get the first stamp positioned correctly, then the rest is much easier. On your right shoe, hold the stamp in place with your left hand (as below), then use your right to drag the end of a pin along the crevice where the side of the shoe meets the heel. Cut along the line
    left by the pin. Cover the back of the stamp with decoupage glue and stick in place.

    STEP 4

    The next stamp should line up with the first (for my shoes I overlapped the white edges so there was less white and more colour). Glue it as before. Should you need to wiggle it so it’s in exactly the right place, do so using a wet, clean finger before it dries.

    STEP 5

    Keep adding stamps down the side of the shoe towards the toe, taking time to line them up before you stick.

    STEP 6

    Very soon you’ll run into the rim of the shoe and wonder what to do. Stick to a simple rule: only glue the outside of the shoe. Leave the top of the stamps sticking up for now (don’t fold them over the rim); we’ll deal with these later.

    STEP 7

    Stop adding stamps when you’ve covered half of the toe.

    Now return to that first stamp you stuck on: add stamps to the left of it, working over the back, and part way down the other side. Here’s your next obstacle: on the most curved points you’re left with a peculiar, non-stamp-shaped space to fill. To tackle this, add stamps in the usual way until they just don’t fit. Then, cut up your stamp into little pieces, and patchwork it together so the white edges line up with the existing white edges (don’t fret if the Queen’s head now looks like a Picasso).

    STEP 8

    Soon the Queen’s head will almost be on its side. Stop adding stamps at this point.

    STEP 9

    Start a new line of stamps, with the Queen’s head the right way up. Cover this side of the shoe as you did before, only stopping once you’ve covered the toe. (As in step 7, you’ll need your patchworking skills to fill the odd-shaped spaces.

    STEP 10

    Coat the entire shoe in a layer of glue (take care not to get any on the heel or platform). Leave to dry, and repeat.

    STEP 11

    Finally, it’s time to deal with the stamps sticking over the rim. Fold one over the rim, and use a pin to make a crease in it, where the outer meets the lining, as you did in step 3. Cut along the crease you just made, then stick the remaining stamp to the sliver of leather left. It won’t stick easily, so hold it in place with your paintbrush while the glue dries a little. Repeat all the way around.

    STEP 12

    To finish, cover it with at least five layers of glue. When dry, add a few embellishments if you like. And remember, although waterproof decoupage glue will protect from a light shower, heavy rain or jumping in puddles is to be avoided.

    STEP 13

    One shoe down, one more to go …


    A more simple way to do this is to use the collage method and not worry about all the stamps lining up. Instead, stick them on at odd angles – the only steps you need to follow are steps 3 (to get the edges of the shoe neat), 11 (to get the rim neat) and 10 and 12 (to finish).

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