Introduction: Dinosaur Heels
Like many of you Ladies of the Internet, I became fixated with these dinosaur heels (http://www.themarysue.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/omB80EXHLE2lMMJ2A1L0aA2.jpeg) as they started popping up on the blogs I frequented. I stalked Awkward Collection's Facebook page. I checked the comments of Cheezburger posts for any hints. I really felt like the internet betrayed me on this one, dangling something so covetable in my face yet leaving me with no hope of attaining it.
The idea began as an itchy pearl in my noggin. It seemed like something I could maybe, possibly, sort of hack. And then this hit Instructables (https://www.instructables.com/id/dinosaur-heels/step8/prehistoric-pumps/). I pored over mikeasaurus's tutorial. Those shoes look impressively sturdy, but my misgivings centered on two things. First, I know my skill & tool limitations. There is no way I would follow all of their steps to seriously construct the shoe's heel from scratch. Second, it didn't incorporate my favorite part of the original DinoHeels – the way the T-rex emerged from the back of the heel.
So I set out to make the version of the shoes I saw on my head. Now let's put on some Planet of the Dinosaurs parts 1-9 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjkkFRX_yoM) and get crafting!
This DIY is also featured on my blog at http://stitchybitch.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/diy-dinosaur-heels/
Step 1: Getting Started
First off, how could I shove a plastic dinosaur on a shoe without constructing a heel? Well, I don't know if you folks have been watching much television lately, but this Lady Gaga character has managed to popularize the (in my opinion) hideously heelless wedge.
I began my search for the cheapest heelless wedges I could find. My journey lead me to the sale section of amiclubwear.com, which soon had me stomp-dancing around my living room like the creature from Splice and nearly falling on my face. Then I remembered that these shoes are not about comfort. They are about fuckyeah.
The next step was finding the right plastic T-rex. I chose to risk it with guesswork and conduct my search online. The cheapest dino for my buck that also seemed like it might kinda sorta fit in the concave of the shoe based on the measurements in the description came from Really Great Toys (https://www.reallygreattoys.com/product/28008/tyrannosaurus).
Once it came in, it took some fiddling to figure out how the plastic toy was going to fit. I had already decided based on the size and shape of the heel space and the proportions of the toy dinosaurs online that I was not going to attempt the large scale of the original shoe, with the head of the T-rex reaching all the way to the outside of the heel. Instead, I was going to create a more modest dinosaur heel. (I just reread that sentence. Yep.)
Step 2: Cutting & Glueing
So I soon tasked myself with cutting off the appropriate of amount of the toy's tail. Sorry, little dude!
But my knife did not prove sharp or serrated enough. Frankly I don't know why I tried to cut it with a kitchen knife in the first place, nor can I stress enough what a poor idea it is to drink while doing this. Especially because my next course of action was to go down into the creepy boiler room basement where I store my tools (seriously, it pretty much looks like this) and emerge from the shadows with a handsaw.
My worst DIY habit is to not use the proper tools, but once I got this sucker going things were working better. This is probably the messiest part of this entire project, so lay down a sheet or keep your shop vac handy, because plastic shavings are going to go everywhere.
Once I got the basic shape of how the plastic T-rex was going to fit into the heel, I used super-glue to put it in place. Because my T-rex's feet weren't going to quite touch the ground, I took care to make sure they would be placed evenly on both shoes.
Step 3: Molding/Sculpting
And now it was time to get that molded look, as if the T-rex is emerging from the back of the shoe.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure this part out, as it was the biggest puzzle in the DIY I was muddling together in my mind. After trolling some cosplaying message boards and watching Face Off too many times, (The SyFy show, not the movie. You can never watch Face/Off too many times.) I ambitiously purchased Aves' Apoxie sculpt. I chose it because it was sculptable, had a long work period time, and would be sandable once cured. If I could do it over again I might try to find something with more of a matte finish, but we'll talk about that in the paint section.
Now, I've never done anything like this before. I've never sculpted, never made a mold, never poured epoxy or any other maker-ie things. I had played with Sculpey / Fema clay as a kid, though the extent of my artistry was crappy flower earrings and roll & cut beads. To my delight, when I mixed my first batch together (I worked in small spoonfuls to make sure I didn't mix more than I needed) it behaved pretty much exactly like Sculpey clay. It was easy to work with, didn't have a strong odor, and only left a faint oily residue on my hands. Make sure you mix both parts together for two minutes though. I learned this fact after diving into my project, as I am wont to do, and a few parts of my sculpt didn't quite cure properly. In the words of my dad, and many dads out there, always RTFM, kids.
If you want to do a better job than I did, (a) cut your nails before you sculpt it (duh!) and (b) smooth with water.
Step 4: Sanding
After 24 hours (though I gave it two days to be safe) it was time for sanding.
Ok, I lied. This part is a little messy, too. Sand away. Sand until you can't sand anymore. I used whatever grit I found in my leftover supplies bag from refinishing my dining room table, but People Who Care About Doing Things Right would probably choose a finer grit. I can confirm that some of my more enthusiastic sanding strokes left some scratches in the surface.
Step 5: Painting
Next up is paint prep! I taped up the front half because I wanted to get a darker coat on the back before blending, but if your shoe is closer in color to your clay and T-rex, then I guess you could probably just cover the whole darn thing?
My paint plan was to do a black base coat on the T-rex & molding, then a glitter coat blending into the rest of the shoe. But when I got to the craft store, I found a spray texture shimmer paint in a silver-grey very similar to the color of the shoes. (Jackpot!)
The black came out a little glossier than I wanted. A matte black finish would have made it match the rest of the matte glitter shoe. Anyway, after the second coat of black dried I did a coat of the shimmered texture, then removed the tape and did a light coat blending into the rest of the shoe.
They're not perfect. There are angles that look better than others.
But, heck. I've got some goddamned dinosaur shoes.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a big weekend ahead of me. I've gotta go t-rex.