How to Customize Skate Shoes

Introduction: How to Customize Skate Shoes

This guide demonstrates a particular way to modify skate shoes. The lace protectors are a very practical modification, they actually prevent grip tape abrasion. However this mod requires the use of a stud setter which is not so easy to come by. Graffiti paint jobs are practiced as a method to enhance the value of shoes. This particular technique adds an aggressive edge to otherwise plain shoes. The paint job is applied to shoes with a synthetic upper material. The paint shows up better on the smooth synthetic material and not as good on the suede area. Pick out shoes that don't have too much layering and stitching. Stay away from materials that are too porous or absorbent.

My recommendations for this project would be first find some inexpensive shoes to work on. Have the studs done at the end after the painting is complete. Just find a factory that can do the studs for a couple of bucks.  Finally go out and buy a some quality spray paint enamel. The paint used here is early edition Belton Molotow. On a side note I stick to this paint brand because they also manufacture the Li tips which are used ubiquitously.

brand new skate shoes with synthetic upper
shoe box with tissue
paper towel
liquid masking fluid
Belton Molotow Paint
NY fat cap (Li)
eye dropper
drinking straw
cheap craft brush (for effects)
nice synthetic bristle brush (for masking fluid)
paint thinner
latex gloves
card board

Step 1: Stud Setter Tips

The stud setter takes a little practice to get it to work properly. If a stud is not set correctly it can fall off or rotate loosely in position. The most important thing is to have the Dye adjusted correctly so that the rivet can be jammed into the stud at the right depth. If the dye is adjusted to tight, the dye can get damaged. Adjust the dye with a test stud and material, make sure the pedal can hit the bolts with out too much pressure. The rivet and stud should make a tight bond, but not so tight that the rivet is damaged. Once the settings are dialed in for a particular dye and the material thats being used, then the machine will be simple to use.

Step 2: Masking Off

Although the paint job is very expressive with drips and action marks, the effect is done in a very controlled way. The area that receives the paint will be left open, all other areas must be masked to prevent drips and over spray. There are three parts the masking process, tape, masking fluid and the tissue and paper towel.

Step 3: Fat Cap Dot

The New York fat cap is a great for effects. One sprayed dot is will have a distinct circle around it. The center dot is where all the splatter will emanate. All other areas except for the dot need to be covered to prevent over spray. The tissue, paper towel and tape can help mask the rest of the shoe. Put on latex gloves and make sure the paint is well shaken. Test the can on some cardboard to find the correct surface to can distance. There are roughly three different size dots to choose from, find the dot  size that work best for the design. If the dot is not defined enough give it an additional press directly over it, in order to add more hue.

Step 4: Splatter Effects

The splatter is a more difficult effect to achieve. If done correctly it will have action marks, dots, and drizzle. If the effect is done poorly it will look like a stain or an actual painting accident.

This step requires a lot of masking on the shoe and the surrounding area. The splatter is very messy so were old clothing that can get stained. Also put down a drop cloth or old towel on the ground, where the painting takes place.

First make sure the paint has been well shaken, then fill the spray paint cap with paint. put a half inch of paint into the lid. Clear the nozzle of the spray can by holding it upside down and spraying till only aerosol comes out.

As you load the craft brush dip it in almost to where the bristle are held. Lightly Flick a little back into the lid so that the first flick isn’t too blobby.  Next hold the brush in a upright angle so it doesn’t drip as it makes its way to the shoe. This next step is done quickly so that paint can't drip off the brush with out being flicked. Hold the brush two to three inches over the shoe and flick the brush handle with your other hand. Here is what is going on in detail, while one hand loosely holds the brush over the shoe the other hands the index and thumb flicks the handle. The flick only works three times before it needs to be reloaded with paint. Make sure the flick doesn’t send the brush colliding with the shoe, the brush doesn’t make any actual contact with the shoe at all. An advanced splatter technique will flick the paint at an angle to produce action lines. Don’t let any paint get flicked on other areas of the shoe.

Step 5: Controlled Drips

The drips are another difficult procedure, the eye dropper like the craft brush will want to drip when a soon as its loaded. The trick is to use a drinking straw to blow a drip as it travels down the shoe. This means the shoe is held with one hand the other hand uses the dropper and in the mouth is the straw.

Load the eyedropper half way with paint from the cap. Hold the shoe at an angle so gravity guides the angle of the drip. By changing the angle of how the shoe is held, the speed and direction of the drips can be controlled. The eyedropper like the brush has to be held up right so it doesn't drip. When the eye dropper is squeezed its done slowly and carefully. Use the drinking straw to blow the drip across the shoe. When a drip comes to a stop at some stitching, move the dropper to the stitch and continue to flow paint over the stitch.

Each shoe has two drips a long one and a short one. When a drip reaches the appropriate size set the shoe down so that gravity doesn’t allow it to drip any further. Sometimes it is necessary the hold the shoe in the opposite angle to allow the drip to bleed backwards, this technique will prevent the drip from getting a big blob at its bottom. When both drips are finished set the shoe down with the painted surface up and allow them a half an hour to dry.

Later on I plan on posting a short video to demonstrating this technique. This entire project was documented with a iphone and no one was available to hold the camera for these painting steps.

Step 6: Finishing Up

Make sure the paint has cured before removing the mask. Paint will look shiny if its wet. The splatter and drips take the longest to dry. Throw out all the tissue that came with the shoe, because the paint chips off of it and makes a mess. Remove all the masking tape from the shoe and throw that out. Get some tweezers out and pick away the masking fluid around the emblem. Dump the excess paint out of the lid and fill it with paint thinner. Clean the eye dropper and craft brush, then clean the lid and put it back on the can.

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