Introduction: Customize Shoes With Spray Paint and Sugru

Raised on leather, with flesh on her mind, here comes the woman with the look in her eye.  Her words are weapons, sharper than knives.  It makes you wonder how the other half die. 

Here comes the man with the look in his eye.  He was fed on nothing, but he's full of pride.  Look at them go.  Look at them kick.  It makes you wonder how the other half live. 

Here comes the world with the look in its eye.  The future is uncertain but certainly slight.  Look at the faces.  Listen to the bells.  It's hard to believe we need a place called hell.


When I lived in London, I spent a fair amount of time trolling around Camden, and it left an indelible impression on me for all things goth, punk, and cyber.  If there were a pair of AngryRedhead shoes, these would be it.

I'm making the deadline by the skin of my teeth after toying with these shoes for 3 weeks now.  This Instructable shows how to make a pair of stylized shoes using Sugru and spray paint and how to add treads to shoes that are a bit slippery.  Most of the instructions are on the high heels as they require more techniques and instruction, so if you are making the men's shoes, please read through the women's, too.

If you would like to save yourself time and a whole lot of headache, please follow these directions on how to paint shoes as carefully as possible, or you may end up spending a lot more time on repairing mistakes than if you'd been patient from the start.  Give yourself at least 2 weeks to decorate these shoes.  Each step is short, but there's a lot of time for curing necessary.  Don't skimp on the cure time! 

Since I have JUST finished these shoes, I cannot say what exactly the durability is.  Considering how specialized these shoes are, I'm guessing very, very few people are going to wear them on any sort of regular basis, and if there are cracks, breaks, snaps, etc., they are repairable.  Be careful with these for the first month until everything is totally and fully cured and has become a permanent part of the shoe.

If you want to change the design and placement of the Sugru, carefully consider what you do and how you'll wear the shoes.  Consider how you will put your feet together, stand next to a wall, or drive a car while wearing these shoes.  The horns are put on the toes for a reason.

Stay tuned for more custom shoe techniques and ideas!  I would have done another design for other options, but I ran out Sugru and time.  Bah!

Step 1: Materials

You will need:
  • Shoes

You can use a pair of shoes that you no longer like or a pair from a thrift store.  I bought these high heels for $15 a few months ago with the intention of customizing them.  These are vinyl shoes, so these instructions apply to vinyl, not leather or canvas.  Avoid shoes with overlay, heavy stitching, buckles, bows, etc.  Very plain shoes are easier to customize.

  • Krylon Fusion Spray Paint

I'm using Safety Red and Gloss Black.  I tried the Rustoleum Plastic Primer on another pair of shoes, and it didn't work as well as the Krylon Fusion which is why I'm mentioning this brand in particular.  It also comes in many colors and is easy to use.

  • Clear Spray Paint

This one is acrylic, but I have a feeling you could use a wax finish.

  • Sugru

You will need 8 packs for a pair of women's shoes and 2 for men's.

  • Painter's Tape

I'm using 1".

  • 1/4" Detailing Tape

I found mine at an auto parts store, but call around and be specific with what you need to do with it.  Many stores claimed to have it when they didn't.

  • Paper Towels

For wiping away mistakes and cleaning tools.

  • Newspaper

For stuffing.

  • Exacto Knife
  • Butter Knife
  • Frosting Tip

Or any appropriately sized funnel-shaped, hollow object.

  • Sandpaper

I'm using 60, 120, and 320 cut into 1"x2" squares.

  • Steel wool

Fine, not coarse.

  • Gloves
  • Board wrapped in wax paper

This is a piece of board from an old picture frame that I wrapped in a couple sheets of wax paper and taped down.  This will help for molding the Sugru and protect your flat surfaces.

  • Bulldog Clips
  • Vaseline/Petroleum Jelly
  • Red Shoelaces (optional; not shown)
  • Black Fabric Dye (optional)
  • Electrical Tape
  • Shoe Goo for any repairs (not shown)

Step 2: Sand Shoe

Sand shoe and wipe away dust with damp cloth.

Note:  It's probably going to feel wrong sanding down the shoes, but it will help.  Sand all parts of the shoe that will have Sugru or paint.

Allow the shoes to completely dry after wiping down with the damp cloth.

Step 3: Back Spikes

Use 2 packets/shoe and roll a snake the length of the back portion of the shoe.

Smoosh the snake onto the back of the shoe.

Allow to cure for 3-4 hours and cut triangles out to form spikes on the shoe.

Repeat for other shoe.

Step 4: Horn

Use 1 packet of Sugru to shape a cone.  An icing tip will help you gauge the dimensions.

Smoosh onto the top of the shoe and shape with a slight curve.

Allow the horn and the spikes to cure for 48 hours.

Repeat for other shoe.

Step 5: Treads

Update:  The treads are coming off, and I suspect 1 of 2 things:  I should have sanded the bottom of the shoe more (maybe used a Dremel), or Sugru cannot adhere to the type of plastic used on this portion of the shoe.  If you try this, sand it hard.  If it fails, the worst is you'll have wasted a couple packs of Sugru.

Smoosh 1 packet of Sugru on the bottom of the shoe.

Note:  It's going to be spread very thin, but creating valleys will also create ridges.

Create treads by running a butter knife through the Sugru.

Allow to cure for 24 hours.

Repeat for other shoe.

Step 6: Sand Sugru

Sand the cured Sugru for a smooth finish. 

Use an exacto knife to scrape or cut away trickier bits.

Repeat for other shoe.

Step 7: Protected Areas That Won't Be Painted

Run a line of tape along the inside of the shoe and create a loop with the end.  Reinforce with electrical tape (not shown).

Tape off the inside of the shoe and stuff with crumpled newspaper.

Apply Vaseline in the treads.

Note:  Paint won't adhere to Vaseline, and you don't want paint on the treads because the paint will eventually rub off onto floors.

Wipe away any Vaseline that gets onto the shoe and out the treads.

Repeat for other shoe.

Step 8: Spray Paint Red

Place the shoe and paint where you plan on painting the shoe for 15-20 minutes.  This will help prevent cracking and bubbles.

Hang the shoe in the air and spray paint red.  You will need 3 coats.  Wear gloves to avoid cleaning paint off your hands.

Allow to dry for 2 hours and carefully remove the Vaseline.

Allow to cure for 48 hours.

Repeat for other shoe.

Step 9: Black and Red Paint

Use 1/4" detailing tape to protect red stripes.

Apply Vaseline to the underside of the shoe including the treads. 

Note:  Covering the red painted portion under the shoe will give the Louboutin-look and give a special extra detail to the shoe.

Place the shoe and paint where you plan on painting the shoe for 15-20 minutes. This will help prevent cracking and bubbles.

Paint red and black.  This will require having both cans of paint ready and switching between the two to get the desired effect.  I would heavily recommend practicing a similar technique.

Allow to dry for a couple hours and carefully remove the Vaseline and detailing tape.

Allow to cure for 48 hours.

Carefully sand blemishes.

Step 10: Apply Clear Coat

Place the shoe and paint where you plan on painting the shoe for 15-20 minutes. This will help prevent cracking and bubbles.

Hang the shoe in the air and apply 1-3 coats of clear coat.

Note:  I did not apply Vaseline for the clear coat because it's acrylic and, well, clear.  You can apply it if you have any concerns.

Allow to cure for 48 hours.


Step 11: Men's Shoe

I used a pair of my husband's old Converse that were about to get tipped into the trash, so some of this is specific to these shoes.

Dye the shoes with black fabric dye following the instructions on the pack.  Ideally, do this twice and allow to dry.  Dyed shoes are hard to get truly black.

Apply Shoe Goo where the fabric is separating from the sole and use a bulldog clip to clamp the materials together.

Roll 1 packet of Sugru into a ball and cut in half.  Shape a cone out of each half and smoosh onto the toe of the shoe.  Shape the cones into horns.  Allow to cure for 48 hours and sand.  I did not add treads because the traction was already solid on these shoes.

Tape off the fabric of the shoe and paint black and red similar to Step 9.  Allow to cure for 48 hours.

Note:  I got a nice glossy shine without having to apply a clear coat.  If yours is dull, apply a clear coat and allow to cure for 48 hours.

Since it's difficult to get reds to match...  Attach two large bulldog clips to either end of a shoelace and hang one end in the air.  The other bulldog clip will weigh the lace down and prevent it from blowing around.  Spray paint the shoelace the same red color you used for the shoe.  While the lace is still slightly tacky but the paint is not coming off onto your skin, lace the shoes.

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