February 18, 2011

DIY: The Copper-leafed Shoes

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

17 Comments

  • Tea For Two
    February 18th, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    :D I need to do this. Copper leaf action is a must. i

  • Anonymous
    February 18th, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    No Offence but, You just destroyed a good pair of vintage time-less oxfords for this seasons fashion, In a few seasons this will be tacky.

  • Izzy
    February 18th, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Anonymous: No offense taken! Thing is, I could easily rub off the copper leaf with some thinner, and the shoes will be good as new (or old)!

  • Mat
    February 18th, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    totally agree, i bought some sliver shoes by swear and hardly wear them, they were cheap mind you. ace job izzy, you will look grand

  • Giancinephile
    February 18th, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    It's an interesting touch!

  • Anonymous
    February 19th, 2011 at 4:13 am

    I love your blog Izzy. It has always been ne of my afterwork/morning reads. I just like how you express through images and text your "bespoke" attitude towards fashion.Keep it up!!

  • my.amalgam
    February 19th, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    wow, they look great!

    good diy project

    http://www.myamalgam.blogspot.com

  • Michele
    February 19th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I really love projects like this! They came out so lovely:D

  • Simen
    February 19th, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Quite interesting project, and the result was really good!

    But I have this idea of buying some old shoes and try to paint them yellow. As it seems you have tried painting shoes before, do you think paint will do the work, maybe with some transparent lacquer to add some shine?

  • Izzy
    February 19th, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Thank you everyone for your kind words.

    Simen: Paint will do the work, and a transparent lacquer will help keep the paint on a little longer, but because leather folds and stretches, cracking is inevitable. I personally like the cracking, I think it's very Margiela, but to each his own. Also, make sure that the top coat you put is completely transparent. I was unaware that the top coat I placed had an amber tint (it was for wood), so it altered the colors that I painted on. Hope this helps!

  • Jazzy E (hivennn)
    February 20th, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Oh so amazing. x hivennn

  • Austin
    February 20th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I did not know the shoes were two toned!

  • Brandon
    February 21st, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Izzy When you do move here officially we are totally copper leafing everything I own! (maybe not everything but something) DIY projectos aplenty yes sir!

  • Lorenz
    February 24th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I'm in awe by how you made this! Great job! Always have been a fan of your DIY works Izzy! :)

  • Six Six Sick
    February 28th, 2011 at 1:46 am

    AMAZING AMAZING DIY. I definitely have to try this–have been wanting to do something with gold leaf for a while but haven't been able to figure out what, now I think I know…
    xx
    Tiffany

  • Izzy
    February 28th, 2011 at 2:02 am

    tiffany: what are you thinking of doing? do share!!

  • reub-envision
    March 7th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    ~ stellar job
    I spray painted my sneakers gold once I still wore them all the time but I went for a walk in the pouring rain & it came off :(
    I may try this
    & will deff be posting these on Shoe Tuesday tomorrow


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