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  • The Sneaker Experiment


    Like every good girl on the planet, I have a special place in my heart, and closet, for shoes. There’s a shoe for every mood, and every occasion. Some shoes can cross over, most can’t. I have a couple pair of mules – slip-on’s, we call them, of the backless kind. I like them, because as much as I love shoes, I am lazy about them. With these, there’s no bending involved, you just step in and go. Perfect! I’ll take two pair -one dressy, one casual. Oh but wait – I forgot – one in sneakers, too!

    sneaker experiment shoe painting craft' class=For months, I’ve been on the search for the perfect pair of mule tennis shoes. At last, they’re mine! The only problem? They’re white. OHHH how I hate white. It’s so, so – so absent of color! Bah!

    White and I only get along in small doses, when surrounded by color. So herein lies my problem. How am I going to color these shoes?

    By the way, these were the bargain of the year at just $5 – so I could NOT say no to these well padded 1980’s reminiscent sneakers.

    Back to the problem. They’re white. What can I paint them with that won’t bleed onto my socks or fade – Sharpies? Food coloring? Clothing dye? (None of which I have on hand. Honestly.) – and more importantly, what color do I want them?

    As luck would have it, my wonderful hubby had just cooked dinner. Teriyaki chicken. Mmmm. And you know, I thought to myself, teryaki stains clothing. Yes, it does. And yes, I did.

    sneaker experiment shoe painting craft' class=
    sneaker experiment shoe painting craft' class= I whipped out a little (garbage-y) paintbrush and proceeded to paint the canvas with our dinner leftovers. Oh shut up, it’s a very cool color. I was so excited that they turned out such a cool shade, I popped them right into the wash and I was crossing my fingers that they wouldn’t fade too much.

    They faded too much. Darnit. Okay, well I knew that was a possibility. Was I disappointed? Yeah, I was. I definitely didn’t want to use beets, although it’s a nice color, it wouldn’t really go with anything, you know? Hm.

    I waited overnight for them to dry, and pondered my kitchen contents a bit longer. If cooked teriyaki sauce wouldn’t stain them, then would soy? If I applied soy sauce directly and then dried them, would that work? It was worth a try, right? So I got up the following morning and started painting on the soy sauce.

    sneaker experiment shoe painting craft' class=The soy sauce didn’t give the same deep rustic color that the teriyaki did, but it was still nice and I would have been fine with those results, too. I put them in the dryer and baked them at 350° for 45 minutes on the middle rack. I did, too. And when I slipped them on to take the girls to school? Catybug blurted out “Hey Mom! Your feet smell like soy sauce!” from the backseat. Crud. Well the color stayed, but obviously the smell stayed, too. Into the wash they went, and out they came – looking just like before.

    So now I’m beginning to ponder the obvious. Why on earth can I spill teriyaki, soy, whatever I’m cookin’ on a white t-shirt and that stain NEVER comes out – but when I deliberately paint it onto something to stain, bake it in and then wash it – it fades away?! WHY?! Well it’s not fair, I tell you. Not. fair. at all.

    So my teriyaki chicken colored sneaker experiment was a failure. Except my shoes are still, pretty much, white (alright, off white). Time to break out the big guns, I say.

    sneaker experiment shoe painting craft' class=
    Canvas sneakers, meet water-insoluble india inks. HAH. I’ll have you a new color yet, even if it’s a totally random one.

    sneaker experiment shoe painting craft' class=I sat down with my inks and went to work. I used burnt umber with a touch of yellow – and I was hoping to match up the teriyaki color but it’s been a few years, and I kinda forgot how ink works. It doesn’t lighten, so you have to start light and go dark. (Same holds true for brunettes, eh?) – so I started with too much umber. When I finished, I worried they were too dark, so I pulled the copper out of my magic box and dusted it over the top of the canvas. The result was pretty cool, and I *know* nobody has a pair of shoes like these.

    I tossed them in the wash – it passed the test. The color stayed deep and rich. Next was the dryer test. I put them on the rack and dried them for about an hour on high, and when I pulled them out they had a bit of a worn/weathered tattered look. VERY cool. Now, I introduce you to my wicked cool sneakers – and it only took 2 days, five bucks and a little bit of left over dinner to get them.

    sneaker experiment shoe painting craft' class=
    Yes, you too can customize your canvas slip-on sneakers with food. Just don’t do it, is all I’m sayin’. Use the permanent stuff.


    Renee said,

    Whoa! Flash Back!

    See back in the 80’s I had this friend who would decorate white sneekers with sharpie pens. Course most of his designs were the names of favorite punk bands and lines of color around the words. They always came out very cool though.

    And then later on I learned how to dye stuff with food stains…Beats, Red Onions, coffee, koolade, etc. You set the color with vinegar. We have a “cow” costume that I dyed with coffee.

    Your new shoes look great!

    Renee’s last blog post..It’s Official… I’m sick…looks like flu

    1.22.2008 @ 11:24 am
    Leanne said,

    Darn, Renee, if I had known – I would have been bugging you about it! I would have loved the color of coffee!!

    1.22.2008 @ 11:34 am
    pam said,

    I love those shoes, and what a cool experiment! Too bad the Teriyaki didn’t take; that might have started a new cottage industry for you… ‘Leanne paints with food’.

    pam’s last blog post..Clearwater cops are hard core!

    1.22.2008 @ 11:34 am
    Sue said,

    Well my friend, you can certainly say they are original. You had scratch and sniff sneakers didn’t you? LOL… at any rate, now they look great, I like them. I have died stuff with tea or coffee before but you don’t get that nice dark color you finally ended up with. Fun stuff!!!


    1.22.2008 @ 12:50 pm
    Kimberly said,

    You sure are “creative”…a wee bit insane but very, very creative.:rofl:

    Kimberly’s last blog post..Tomorrow

    1.22.2008 @ 1:32 pm
    taba said,

    :rofl: omg. it’s offficial. you crazy.

    1.22.2008 @ 8:54 pm
    All Adither said,

    Your sneakers make me hungry.

    1.22.2008 @ 11:30 pm
    Marcia said,

    I had died material with tea, but didn’t know the vinegar trick and after several washings they were not an appealing color at all. Glad you figured your shoes out. They look great.

    1.29.2008 @ 8:17 pm

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