February 18, 2011
It was the night before fashion week, and a package of delight had arrived at my doorstep, all the way from Latvia.
the most perfect pair of vintage brogues in varying tones of brown, a gift from Beta of Beta Pour Homme (Do check out her online store, filled with vintage men’s pieces from around the Baltic area in Northern Europe. I think her selection is exquisite, and the prices very reasonable.)
I had two options. I could either get started on packing, or do a quick and easy DIY project. The shoes were beautiful as they were, but the one thing missing from my NYFW wardrobe was a pair of shoes that made a statement. I had some copper leaf left over from when I did that three-part painting, and I knew this was the time to replicate those Anne-Valerie Hash metal-toed shoes from a couple of seasons back:
slanted (via The Cherry Blossom Girl)
or straight across (via The Cherry Blossom Girl)
From experience, I knew I couldn’t achieve the same wattage of shine with metallic paints, and I like the subtle crumpled-foil texture of metal leaf. And in my opinion, metal leaf is infinitely easier to work with than paint. This is how I did it:
I taped off the edges of the cap toes, multiple times, just to be sure. I left the soles exposed because I wanted the copper leaf to extend all the way to the sides, as if the toes had been dipped in molten copper.
I brushed on some metal leaf adhesive size, (available at most art supplies stores)
and waited until it dried clear.
I then laid on a full sheet of copper leaf (significantly cheaper and infinitely more interesting than gold leaf!), pressed it on with a soft brush, and with the same brush, sweeped off the excess. I waited for this to dry a little bit more, and repeated the process, laying on three sheets of copper leaf on each shoe.
I peeled off the tape, did a little cleaning up here and there, and this is what came out of it:
close-up of the texture
my freshly copper-gilded vintage oxfords
I quite like the copper on this shoe: with the varying shades of brown, it is warm and pleasing to the eye, and much less stark than the ones on the Anne-Valerie Hash runway. I also think the traditional perforations lend a bit of masculinity to a pair of shoes inspired by (menswear-inspired) women’s shoes.
I’ve learned that I just couldn’t afford to pay full high-end price for statement pieces of this degree of weirdness. I don’t end up wearing them often enough to justify the cost, nor do I have the funds to buy a new pair every time I get tired of the one I have. Times like these, I say, if you can’t afford it, make it!
shoes courtesy of Beta Pour Homme