Introduction: Recreate Your Favourite Shoes in Miniature Form for Dolls!
I have been embarking on a quest to make dolls out of characters I have played in photoshoots with costumes I made to represent certain feelings and emotions. This character is about positivity and thriving instead of wallowing in despair.
Super excited about translating ideas from 2d to 3d! and from big to small!
Here I used the design of these playful, colourful flat sandals that were given to me by my flatmate.
Honestly, the feet of the doll are built to fit the black ballet heels shoes pictured; which I intend to make a miniature version of as well, in time. However, I decided to simply mold the originally flat sole of the strappy shoes to the shape of the outstretched foot I've sculpted for the doll.
Anyhow, enough babbling, the show must go on!
P.S. Apologies in advance for 1. switching between past and present tense and 2. the blurry photos, I apparently can't seem to hold a camera still for the life of me!
Step 1: Clarifying My Interpretation of the Shoe
Making design decisions etc. Planning, drawing, thinking. I sourced out materials I already have - I usually like to create in a way that I can use old things I've had lying around; I see the potential in all things and nothing goes to waste - so I shuffled through my "craft box of random things I saw potential in and hoarded"™ and found these wonderful little pieces of coloured (p)leather(?), coloured threads, bits and bobs I'd rescued from old magazine freebies that were otherwise being thrown away in the process of weekly retail store magazine returns.
With such a tiny delicate space to work with/fit straps into, I counted the number of coloured leather strips on the shoe (24) and ended up halving the number down to 12 strands to fit my 5-6cm long mini shoe. I selected the three (as opposed to the original's 6) most desirable colours of the shoe and came out with green, pink and the turquoise-green vinyl fabric left over from the costume I made.
Design/construction plans change a lot so I found I wrote up plans and then wrote new ones up upon conjuring up a better idea. I experimented with many different ideas and hiccuped about through the challenge of what kind of opening (or.. faux-pening, if you will :L - sorry, it's late, my humour's gone dry) to have; faux/decorative zip, velcro (too bulky etc.), hook and eyelets; eventually settling on a simple three hole lace-up finish using a fab gold thread I found at a dollar store earlier this year.
I'll spare the gruesome details in this write up, see the plans I've attached to see more about design decisions. The plans should be in order of their development and the main ones I stuck to were the last two, numbered at the top of the page in red.
Step 2: Wrap the Figure's Feet in Glad-wrap and Masking Tape
1. As air dry clay needs drying time etc., best to first get started on sculpting the clay sole of the shoe. I wrapped my sculpture's feet in gladwrap (I think some people call it clingfilm? however I've always called it gladwrap do please bear with) using my all-time favourite craft tool: masking tape, to the secure the protective covering in place.
2. I then cut a few pieces of polar fleece (I have a lot of scraps lying around from costumes I made) to tape to the clay foot, sandwiched between gladwrap layers in order to:
- Accommodate for the shrinkage of air dry clay as it dries, protecting from cracking
- Help stop the drying shoe sole from getting stuck onto the painstakingly moulded foot and make it possible to take it back off the foot after drying
3. I sealed with one last layer of gladwrap to complete the sandwich, as I wouldn't particularly want the polar fleece getting wet.
Step 3: Sculpting the Outer Soles
The wet part, ick!
1. Cut 2x roughly foot sole-shaped pieces of clay
2. Place each onto its corresponding foot and press closely onto the foot, then work on the outer shape of it, which will be visible. Smooth it out.
3. Leave to dry. To speed up drying I put mine on top of a laptop cooler fan, and under a usb fan - a setup which is pictured in the upcoming painting steps.
Once outer part of soles are dry, remove with care from feet, leave the inner part of these soles upright to dry if needed (as they weren't exposed to air while on the foot). Generally air dry clay takes a day or two to dry; however in this case the beauty of working with small pieces is the drying time is cut down hugely. :)
Step 4: Draft Pattern for Fabric Insole
With the soles dry, I experimented with cutting out an inner sole shape to fit into the clay sole.
1. Cut this shape out in test fabric before going on to cut it out in the gold fabric.
2. Check fit in clay sole.
3. With clay sole held onto foot, draft an approximate heel-back shape to cut out in fabric.
4. Masking tape to secure heel part to sole, only on underside though because I found the tape took away the coating layer of the fabric.
Step 5: Plotting Marks and Making Coloured Strands Piece
1. Flip fabric sole over to the wrong side, marking in pencil 12 evenly spaced marks for leather strands to fasten strands to:
- 6 along the sole edge and
- 6 along the heel back
2. Tape one string to a surface, and the other end to a higher surface to keep it taut.
3. Cut out 12 total thin strips from the chosen coloured leather fabric pieces.
4. Start tying, in chosen colour sequence, each strand in a regular knot around the string, pushing the strands closer to each other.
5. This is hard to explain but at each end of the string, fold the loose end back into the two strand's knots before the end one.
I have a lot to do so I will fast-forward some of the things that are already covered in the attached instructions page, regarding securing the piece to foot to mark out where they are to be attached to the sole.
6. Match up the marks that have been made along the underside of the inner sole and inner piece of the fabric heel-back, taping them down with masking tape.
7. Make holes through the outer pieces for the fabric heel back, for the gold string lace-up feature.
8. Run the thread through beeswax and, using a needle, lace it through the 6 holes made in the heel piece.
Cut excess off the ends, leaving enough room for a comfortable bow to be tied, and tie knots in each end.
Put super glue on these knots to seal the thread ends (the thread I chose is VERY prone to fraying).
Step 6: Painting the Outer Sole
1. I made a little stand and stuck the sole onto it with just regular blu-tak so I could paint it.
2. Mix a little water into the paint to thin it out, and apply 10ish coats (or until it is sufficiently gold coloured) with drying time in between each.coat. I read up on how to apply paint without brushstrokes showing, and kept to them e.g. vertically brushed layer, then horizontally brushed layer; small paint brush so small you can't see brush strokes, etc.
3. Once all paint layers are dry, apply 1 - 3 layers of gloss varnish evenly across the painted surface.
Step 7: Gluing the Inner Sole to Outer Sole
A dizzy-headed Rachel and one melted plastic palette knife* later, I had successfully (phewf!) glued the fabric insole into the clay outer sole, somehow without getting any excess glue on the visible fabric or on the delicately painted gold outer sole. Hallelujah! :)
I'm afraid I don't have any pictures of this process as is it was a bit of a mission on it's own let alone with a camera. Please do forgive.
Tips for glue and acetone use:
Try not to breathe all this stuff in, knock it over, get it on skin, read up on safety procedures before starting, etc., etc.
*I learned some interesting new science facts, namely that acetone is very dangerous, and melts plastic. I was using my acetone nail-polish remover to clean accidental superglue excess off tools as I had read it is what negates superglue. Poor-quality Snapchat video attached showing melted knife. :L You have been warned!!
Step 8: Final Outcome!
If I had more time I would make a stiletto heel to finish the look, but such is life. :) Please imagine with heel attached.
I only made the one shoe as I need to work on my uni assignments also, but will finish the second shoe of the pair all in due time :)
Imagination, perseverance, and can-do attitude is key!