Introduction: Tattooing the Marauder's Map on Leather Shoes

About: I'm a geek, I'm a dad, and I make things

Inside the world of Harry Potter, walking around with a huge magical map, wand in hand, doesn't seem like that big of deal. Do it around town, however, and everyone looks at you funny.

It made me wonder: If you were to re-imagine the marauder's map into a different medium, what would you pick?

I chose shoes, and decided to tattoo the Marauder's Map onto a pair of leather shoes - to always have with me whenever I need to do some magical sneaking around.

Too bad I don't have an invisibility cloak too...


Supplies I used: (with affiliate links)

Leather boots

Tools I used:

Tattoo machine:

Step 1: NOTE

I need to add a disclaimer here at the beginning that I am not a tattoo artist. I don't even have any tattoos. There is possibly (probably) a lot that I did wrong during the process of putting this project together.

This instructable is just to demonstrate what I did to make this project, and is not necessarily intended to demonstrate how to do it.

If you are a tattoo artist and know of any recommendations for others attempting this project, put them in the comments so we can all learn and grow together.

Please and thank you

Step 2: Prep Yourself

Working with ink can be a messy process. To spare your clothes from getting permanet splots, splashes, or drips, its a good idea to cover up properly.

I suggest a Legend of Zelda Apron - not only is it a shameless plug for me, but looks great and works great at stopping anything that you don't want on your clothes. Did I mention how cool it looks too? Can't remember if I mentioned that or not...

Step 3: Picking a Shoe

When trying to decide on a shoe to tattoo the Marauder's Map onto, I wanted the shoe to have a couple essential features:

- Little to no tanning of the leather. The lighter the color the better so that the tattoo wouldn't just blend into the color of the shoe

- As few pieces in the construction of the shoe as possible. This allowed for more coverage to work with, and reduced seams and smaller places where it would be hard to put something small.

- A boot. I decided on a boot because a boot offered more space to work with than a normal shoe.

I searched for a while and decided on a pair that I liked, that fit the requirements I had for the footwear I was about to tattoo.

Step 4: Tattoing the Shoe

Going into this project, I knew for sure 2 different things I wanted specifically tattooed on the shoes.

1. On the left heal I wanted the ribbing saying "I solemnly swear I'm up to no good", and the right heal ribbon to read "mischief managed".

2. On the front of the shoes I wanted to have the front of the map showing Hogwarts and the title "Marauder's Map". I wanted to do half on one shoe and half on the other, much like the map itself that opens up.

Beyond that I didn't know what I was going to tattoo on the shoes, so I just got started.

I began with the ribbons on the heals, tattooing the classic lines on both the right and left shoe. When those were done I started looking at different parts of the map to find iconic or easily recognizable areas to put on the shoes.

Step 5: Reference the Source

I tried to do much of the tattoo freehand, without using a stencil. As is the case when you freehand, I had to reference the source quite often, so having the Marauder's Map close by helps to have it to look at whenever you are

Step 6: Using a Stencil

After completing the heals and sides of the shoes, I decided to try and use a stencil (mostly because this part of the shoe would be the most that people see, and I wanted it to look as much like the source as possible).

It was suggested to me to try using deodorant (like cheap speed stick kind, and not the antiperspirant stuff) to prep the leather first, and then put the stencil on.

I did, and learned 2 things about using a stencil on leather shoes:

1. any movement (even small ones) smears the stencil, which - I also found out - doesn't come off. Trying to wipe the stenciling off ended up dying part of the shoe, so be careful if you use a stencil.

2. Stencils are good for even and pliable surfaces, but harder to use on stiff leather. With some small cuts in the right places, this process would be easier to get a uniform stencil - so snip and stencil carefully.

Step 7: Filling in Areas

I tattooed these shoes with a single needle - even the areas around the toe of the shoe where much of it was completely filled in with ink.

I learned after the fact that there is a specific needle for shading in large areas.

This would have saved SO MUCH TIME - as apposed to try doing it with a single needle like I did. When shading, use the proper needle to save yourself the time and headache.

Essentially: don't do what I did.

Tracing the stencil I put on the front of the shoe, I tattooed the both shoes, taking the design of Hogwarts all the way up to the tongue, which worked out cause the banners of the school fit in that area.

This was a very time consuming step, but again - use the right tool for the job.

Step 8: Patience

You need to have patience with this process.

Tattooing is a time consuming process. You have to have patience with it. It's slow going at moments, but in the end having patience gives you cleaner lines, nicer looking pictures, and an overall better looking boot (or shoe, or whatever piece of footwear it is that you are tattooing).

Step 9: Admire Your Work

The most important step in making: Admire your work. Take a moment to look at what you make/crafted/tattooed/etc and say to yourself

"I did that. I made/crafted/tattooed/etc that thing"

Then put them out and stroll around in geeky confidence of the thing you made!

Step 10: Watch the Video

Now that you know how I did it, watch how I put it all together to create a pair of shoes I love wearing.

I have more geeky projects you can check out here on Instructables, so be sure to follow me for when I put out new Instructables

AND you can watch more of my project videos HERE

AND you can also follow me on Instagram @onceuponaworkbench

Leather Challenge

Participated in the
Leather Challenge