Introduction: BB-8 Heels
Get ready to roll out for the premiere of Star Wars with BB-8 heels. These shoes take the Star Wars universe for a spin and are ready to help save the galaxy, or just look good doing it.
These ladies heels were converted to have a spinning ball in the heel and are dressed up to look like the ball droid BB-8 from the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens.
Remembering the wise words of Yoda, "shoe or shoe not, there is no try".
Ready? Let's make!
Step 1: Shoes + Supplies
These custom BB-8 heels will be made from a pair of white 2" mid heel ladies pumps. These shoes offer plenty of height in the heel to allow for the new ball to be inserted, and a closed toe which will provide ample space to decorate.
To accommodate the new ball heel the existing heel will need to be removed and replaced with a slender metal post which the ball will rotate on, the post will be made of steel and be more than sturdy enough to support the weight of an adult. On the post I used two 2.5" solid wood balls, which will be able to freely spin. The embellishments on the heel were mostly foam which is stuck with my favourite adhesive, E6000.
Step 2: Disassemble Shoe - Leather Back
The leather sole of the heel will need to be cut at the heel and peeled off in preparation for heel removal. Using a sharp hobby knife an incision was made straight across the leather sole where the heel terminates into the underside of the shoe, the leather can be carefully peeled off, revealing the edges of the white vinyl wrap for the heel of the shoe.
The hard plastic foot at the bottom of the heel can be twisted out using a pair of pliers. Save the plastic foot as we'll need it later.
Step 3: Disassemble Shoe - Heel Removal
The heel of the shoe will need to be removed next, and is held in place with industrial staples that are attached though the inside of the shoe shank and into the widest portion of the heel.
To remove the heel I needed to insert a wide flat headed screwdriver where the heel connected to the shoe and gently pry it off. I found the best place to start was where the leather sole was peeled off in the last step. Since the heel and the vinyl heel wrap are all glued in place care was taken not to tear or damage any of the vinyl on the shoe.
After the heels are removed the vinyl heel wraps can be peeled off. Save the vinyl heel wraps for later.
Step 4: Disassemble Shoe - Insert Removal
The shoe insert can be removed by carefully pushing the insert from the open left from where the heel was removed. The insert is glued into the shoe, but with a little force can be removed.
Step 5: Disassemble Shoe - Heel Staple Removal
The heel was attached to the shoe with a large industrial staple. The staple can be removed through the top side of the shoe insert, but I've found it's less destructive to cut cut the spikes from the staple with the cutting wheel on a rotary tool.
Step 6: New Heel Post - Foot Openings
The new heel was made from a 5/16" machine screw that was 2.5" long. Since I wanted to use the existing plastic feet from the heel bottoms I drilled a corresponding opening in the bottom of the machine screws which the feet would be inserted into. This will make sense later, but needed to be done before the screws were attached to the shoes.
Step 7: New Heel Post - Grind Angle
The screw cap was placed against the metal shank on the shoe insole and positioned, then a slight angle was ground into the cap to match the slope of the shoe.
Step 8: New Heel Post - Protect Shoe
Before welding the new post onto the steel shank I taped up the shoe and any other parts of the insert that I wasn't welding to protect it from any damage.
Step 9: New Heel Post - Weld
With everything wrapped and ready the new steel post was tack welded onto the steel shank on the show insert. The positioning was checked to ensure the post was straight, then welding all the way around to make a secure connection.
I was careful to use a low current when welding and to go slow as not to melt through the shank.
Step 10: New Heel Post - Grind Weld
The weld can be cleaned up with some careful grinding, which reduces the bulk from any errant welding and makes the interface look a lot better.
Step 11: New Heel Post - Head Post
The main post will be for the BB-8 body, but I'll need another smaller post to mount the head onto. I used a smaller machine screw and welded that to the top of the larger machine screw head. The angle was checked before welding, but any small adjustments can be made by gently bending the thin machine screw later.
Step 12: New Heel Post - Gluing Insert Into Shoe
With the welding completed the insert can now be placed back into the shoe. The new metal post was a little difficult to get back thought the opening, but just barely fit. When the insert was almost completely seated I added a gob of E6000 to the bottom of the shoe interior and pressed the insert down to make a good bond.
More E6000 was used around the heel opening to seal up against the insert, then allowed to dry completely overnight.
Step 13: BB-8 Body - Drilling Opening
To make BB-8's body I drilled straight through solid wood balls that matched the size of the heel I had removed, which were 2.5" in diameter.
Because I wanted the ball to spin and be balanced I needed to drill straight through the center of the ball. To do this I set up a new sacrificial plate in the drill press and marked a small divot with a countersink bit in the chuck. The wooden ball was placed in this divot, which is centered directly under the drill press quill, and then tightened a clamp around the ball to stop any lateral movements. This clamp was then clamped to the drill press table to secure the entire assembly.
To allow the ball to spin freely around the 5/16" diameter machine screw I was using as the heel the drilled diameter through the wooden ball was slightly larger at 21/64". Any diameter that is slightly larger than the diameter of the machine screw would have been fine.
Step 14: BB-8 Body - Paint
After the opening through the wooden ball was drilled the wood was cleaned up and deburred. The balls were then spray painted with 2 coats of primer, allowing drying in between coats, then left to dry completely overnight. When spraying I was careful not to get any paint inside the drilled opening which could hamper the spinning.
Step 15: BB-8 Body - Head
I used smaller 1/2" decorative balls that i found at a craft store for the BB-8 head. These small balls were already flatted on a portion, saving me some sanding.
I eyeballed where I wanted them to be on the head stem I had welded earlier, then drilled an elongated opening which would allow me to position the head exactly where I wanted it without being too precise with my drilling.
After checking my drilling on the shoe I sprayed the head with a few coats of primer then attached it to the head post with more E6000. I temporarily installed the larger heel ball onto the heel to get the clearances right, and made sure the heel ball could spin freely without bumping into the head.
Step 16: Heel Covering
I installed the heel cover while the heel head was being painted, which is why it's missing in this step.
Using the vinyl heel covering I had saved from when I was taking the heels of earlier, I made a paper template to fit around the heel post then transferred that template pattern to the vinyl heel covering. The trace was cut out using scissors and a slit was made from the edge of the vinyl cutout to the center which would accommodate the heel post.
After testing the fit and trimming to fit the vinyl heel cutout was glued to the underside of the heel around the heel post, covering the unsightly opening left from removing the heel.
Step 17: Toe Embellishment - Tracing
The closed toe of these heels are perfect for embellishing to look just like BB-8. I started by looking up pictures of the droid and printed out a reference sheet showing BB-8 from a few different angles, zoomed in to show details of select areas, and of a few different sources to make sure I had all the information I needed.
I used blue painters tape to cover the entire toe of one shoe, then sketched on top of the tape with maker to outline where I wanted to put my embellishments. I left the other shoe without tape so I could work on it and reference the sketches on the covered show, after I'd remove the tape then use the completed shoe as a reference.
Step 18: Toe Embellishment - Cutting and Gluing
To make the embellishments I used 2mm craft foam and small black plastic rhinestones. The larger optic is one of the smaller wooden balls that I used for the head on the heel cut in half and painted black.
I cut the foam into tin strips and placed them in the places I had sketched on the other shoe, then glued them in place E6000. This part took a while to glue then tape down to dry in the correct place.
Step 19: Toe Embellishment - Complete Other Shoe
After one shoe is completed the reference tape can be peeled off and the same embellishments can be applied to the other shoe.
Step 20: Heel Ball - Sketching
Moving back the the heel ball, I lightly sketched out some patterns in pencil using plenty of reference material.
I started by drawing a skewed axes near the drilled opening, then drew the perpendicular axes around the ball. Where the axes intersected I drew a circle. This was the rough outline I would detail in to give the ball definition and color.
I used acrylic paint over the pencil trace to fill inside each circle first. From my reference material each circle has a different combination of shapes, so I carefully replicated them as best I could on each ball and then let dry. After, the circle was outlined with orange on both balls.
Step 21: Heel Ball - Outline + Spray
To give depth and definition details I outlined all the paint with pencil. I darkened the axis pencil lines and added some small details I found on the reference material for BB-8.
Because pencil can smudge I carefully handled the balls after the detail was finished and then sprayed them with a few coats of clear polyurethane to seal and protect the paint and pencil.
Step 22: Heel Head
BB-8's head on the back of the heel was completed in the same way as the heel ball was: sketched an outline in pencil, then painted, followed by depth with darker pencil. The large optic was another rhinestone glued in place.
After the painting and details on the heel head the shoes were protected with masking tape and then spray polyurethane was applied to seal and protect the heel head.
Step 23: Small Details
While the heel ball and head were drying I could finish some details on the shoe by adding some paint to the toe optic to give it the appearance of reflection by adding some grey paint. I also added indents to the top band of foam to mimic the top panels in BB-8's head, I did this by finding a sharp wedge of wood and firmly pressing into the foam to create an indent.
Step 24: Install Heel Ball
After the polyurethane ball had dried completely it could finally be installed on the heel post. The heel feat could then be inserted into the drilled opening in the bottom of the heel post and allowed to cure completely.
Once the ball is installed it was rotated to ensure that the spinning action was smooth and there was no interference. After the heel foot was glued in place there's no making changes.
Step 25: Don't Be Late, BB-8
BB-8 is all done and ready to roll out. These futuristic fashion heels are ready to rock the red carpet, or help crush the Empire.
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