Going into this project, I really thought I had it all figured out. I’ve long since ordered authentically sized sequins, the proper rhinestones (vintage even!), the bugle beads, and even those elusive central stones! (All to be discussed when we get there, all in good time!) But, I hadn’t thought one iota about the red paint covering the soles of the shoes. It really hadn’t crossed my mind! I knew I wouldn’t be covering the soles in orange felt like three of the four authentic pairs, but I hadn’t thought beyond that. I was crazy enough to think, if you find an art supply store, you could waltz in (replica Innes shoe in hand, of course) and find a matching red paint. Right? Heck no!

Cadmium Red Soles

While I did exactly that, I walked away with Medium “Cadmium Red.” It looked close enough on the jar. I painted the soles of the shoes, and waited a few hours. They looked okay, but a tad orange. I painted them over again, thinking it might just be that I hadn’t quite gotten enough of the paint on. (The paint seemed like it didn’t want to adhere to the leather at all.)

Well, come the next morning, I woke to find bright red soles. Tomato red. Horrible, ugly, tomato red. I couldn’t have been more disappointed! I realise that some of the shoes, particularly the Smithsonian’s, do, in fact, look somewhat orange on the soles. But that’s due to age, and it certainly wasn’t this orange. This orange was just wrong!

Stripping the paint off wasn’t too difficult. I hadn’t applied it properly, so none of it had actually adhered to the sole (as I mentioned earlier.), it had just created a paint “film” on the sole, quite easily pulled off. The bits around the edges were the most problematic. But with a knife I scarped what I could off.

Shoes with taped up soles

With Randy’s help, (let me publicly say I owe him a million thank yous for all his assistance!) I found the right colour for the soles. Cardinal red. Specifically, I used Folk Art’s “414 Cardinal Red.” So, I taped the shoes back up, and started again! To properly adhere the paint to the soles, I mixed the paint with water, effectively water colouring on the first layer of paint, which allowed it to seep into the leather and truly bond with it. I then went on to paint the soles three or four times, each time with less water and more paint. They came out just as I’d hoped they would the first time, a deep crimson red! I also painted the rubber stopper on each heel red. While the Bauman pair does not have these painted, I believe it has simply worn off, as the Smithsonian, Samuels, and Shaw pairs all retain red paint on the stoppers, so I have chosen to replicate them in this way.

Repainted Shoes

Now we’re on to the sequining! I’ve actually already begun sequining and it’s not as impossibly difficult as you’d expect. Not that anything with these shoes is proving exactly easy, but they look lovely thus far, and I’m growing ever more excited as I progress!