Marbled Shoes



Introduction: Marbled Shoes

About: Fabriken is swedens first makerspace and now we're at Malmö Makerspace

Try out this awesome way to up-cycle and colour your shoes. The technique can be used on all sorts of materials and shapes. The only criteria is that the paint will stick to it. We went for the shoes because they gave a nice challenge with their shape and the fabric easily absorbs the paint.

For this instructable you will need:

Shoes or other things to marble.

Corn or Potato starch


A large pot

Measuring cups

A stove top

A deep tray that will fit the shoes/things

Masking tape

Sharp knife

Some old newspapers

Fabric dyes for screen printing or Acrylics mixed with fabric specific medium. Regular oilpaint will also work.


(thinner for the oil paint)

Step 1: Prepare the Transfer Medium

To be able to marble you need a transfer medium on which you place the paints and makes the pattern. The medium needs a higher density than the paint and since we are using acrylics we will need something that they float on.

We also wanted a stable pattern that we could remake for both shoes. So we made a glue by heating starch with water. If you are using oil colours you can actually just use water but the patterns float out more and are less controllable.

So in the pot measure enough water to almost fill the deep tray and heat it on the stove.

Then mix about 1 dl starch per 2 litres of water with some cold water in a bowl.

When the water in the pot is simmering ad the starch and water mixture while vigorously stirring to prevent lumps.

You should now have a sticky glue slime. If you feel it's too loose you can add more starch and heat.

Step 2: Masking Your Shoes

Since we didn't want the entire shoe to be marbled we masked the part we wanted white with masking tape. We first taped over the areas to be masked then carefully cut away the tape with a sharp blade around the edges of the masked areas. (Image 1:1 and 1:2)

Around the soles we used electrical tape since it flexes more and we found it easier followed the soles shape. (Image 1:3) We also taped it around the shoe to make it stick properly (Image 1:4)

Then we filled the shoes with newspaper so that they had nice full shape and to prevent the paint from running into them when dipped.

Step 3: Marbling

Prep the work area with more newspapers because this is the sticky part!

First pour the transfer medium into your tray, it should be cooled by now. It shouldn't be warmer than that that you can put your hand in it. If it's completely cold it might have set to a gooey jelly, then you might need to heat it a little.

Mix your paint with a few drops of water (or thinner if you are using oil colours) then sprinkle it across the medium.

Now take the toothpicks and make the patterns. The one we made is made by dragging the toothpick back and forth on the surface once. Then we turned the tray 90 degrees and repeated the movement with the toothpick
(Image 2:2) Continue doing this until you are satisfied or make your own patterns.

If you want to remake it all and start over you can clear the medium by placing a piece of paper on it. It will absorb the paint and leave the medium in the pan. Now you have a fun colourful piece of paper ;)

Step 4: Dip It!

Now you are ready to dip your shoes!

Gently dip one shoe at the time using a turning motion so that the edge of the shoes sole hits the paint and then you roll the topside over the paint and end by the other sole edge. This way you don't push away any paint and it sticks to the entire surface.

The transfer medium will stick to the shoe as well, that's just fine. (Image 3:1)

Wait a few minutes then gently wipe of the transfer medium and let the shoe dry.

You can speed up the drying by using a heat gun set on low or a hair dryer. This will also fixate the paint so it doesn't smear or wash away. Just be careful not to burn or melt your shoes!

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