I needed big cartoonish shoes for a costume so I went to several party stores and costume shops looking for clown shoes. Everything I found was either more than I wanted to spend or looked awful, so I decided to make my own entirely from things I had at home and found in the trash.
Step 1: What you'll need
- Foam insulation – I found some in the trash. Since you won’t need very much, you should have no trouble finding it discarded from renovation projects or construction sites. You could also buy it from a hardware store.
- Large t-shirt or fabric – I used some of the same free volunteer shirts I previously used for Superman costumes
- Newspaper or other scrap paper – raid your recycle bin
- Rope – we had some leftover from a camping trip
- White glue
- Hot glue gun
- Paint and brush (or craft foam)
- Marker or pen
- Sharp knife and scissors
- Large pair of shoes (optional but helpful)
Step 2: Cutting and Shaping the Foam
Grab the largest pair of shoes you can find. In my case it was my partner’s size 13 work boots. Trace the outline of the shoes or boots onto the foam. If you don’t have any big shoes handy, you could just trace your feet.
Using the shoe outlines as a guide, draw the shape of your clown shoes around them.
Carefully cut along both lines. You should be able to fit your shoes inside the cut foam shapes, if not, trim it until it works.
Trace the front half of both foam pieces onto another sheet of foam. Cut them out to make the tops of your giant shoes.
Generously apply white glue to stick the foam pieces together. Put something heavy on top of them and leave them to dry.
When the glue is dry, use a sharp knife to carve the foam into the correct shape. Don’t worry if it is not perfectly smooth, as most of the shoe will soon be covered with papier maché and fabric.
Step 3: Papier Maché Time!
While the foam is pretty strong, it can crack easily, so you’ll need to cover the shoes in papier maché to protect them from all the hard knocks they will undoubtedly receive.
Cut or tear paper into strips. Dilute white glue with water, and dip the paper pieces in the glue before applying them to the shoes.
Completely cover the foam shoes in papier maché. Be sure to wrap pieces around the bottoms and insides as well. Let them dry and then apply a second layer of papier maché if needed.
If any part of your shoes won’t be covered by fabric, paint them once the papier maché is dry. I originally intended to use craft foam on the toes of my shoes, so I left the papier maché unpainted, but then decided it would be easiest to use paint instead and did it at the very end.
Step 4: Covering the Shoes in Fabric
Before attaching the fabric it may be helpful to draw guidelines on the shoes, so you know where the tongue and lacing will go.
Cut a strip from the t-shirt that is long enough to wrap around the outside of the shoe and twice as wide as the desired height for your finished shoe.
Using a glue gun, glue the fabric to the shoe along the bottom edge.
Fold over the fabric at the back of the shoe and glue it to the inside.
Glue down the edges at the front of the shoe up to where the tongue will be. Cut away excess fabric.
Attach a strip of fabric for the tongue down the middle of the shoe.
Glue down the edges of the fabric where they meet the tongue, leaving a bit of overlap to accommodate the laces.
If you would like to use craft foam or fabric for the toes, now would be the time to glue those down.
Step 5: Final Details
To make the laces, cut a length of rope and wrap both ends in tape to keep them from fraying.
Cut small holes in the fabric where you want the laces to go.
Lace up the shoes and secure the rope and holes with hot glue.
Add any desired trim or details.
Step 6: Complete your costume
Congratulations! You now have a pair of giant shoes suitable for a clown or cartoon character!
Since I have pretty big feet, I could wear the giant shoes over my normal shoes without them falling off.
If you can’t keep the giant shoes on your feet you can either add straps to the bottom of the giant shoes or attach a normal pair of shoes to the inside with velcro or glue.