From the Vault: Glittered Shoes

This blog was originally posted April 6, 2011

If you’ve been interested in glittering your own heels at home, this post may be of some interest to you! I’ve had a couple trials and some successes, and I thought I would share some of my learning with you all so you can avoid making the same mistakes I did =)

Supplies (all purchased from Michael’s craft store, except the shoes and glitter):

  • Mod Podge clear glossy adhesive
  • Glossy clear acrylic spray sealer
  • Fine grit sandpaper: the sandpaper I used was glued to a flexible foam backing pad, so that it wouldn’t fold and crack the way that paper-backed regular sandpaper would
  • Small angled brush and 3/4″ soft nylon brush: any artificial fiber brush will work, as long as it doesn’t absorb adhesive
  • Paper plates: make sure they’re unwaxed plain paper plates- not the glossy kind- otherwise the glitter will stick to the plates! Static is your enemy!
  • Garbage bags or a cheap-o tablecloth to cover your work surface– glitter will get everywhere
  • Index cards (or any other kind of thin, matte cardboard or thick smooth paper)
  • Masking tape
  • Saran wrap
  • Glitter: I’ve got a blog entry about how much and where to buy from, here

So here is your basic, clear top-black heeled shoe…

Start by VERY CAREFULLY applying masking tape to the shoe. You want to tape right above the plastic of the heel itself. If you don’t get it right on first stick, don’t worry about it, but make sure you don’t reposition the same piece too many times or it will lose its stickage. Take your time with this step and really get the tape right where you want it. Using smaller pieces is easier but a little slower.

Once you’re done going all the way around the shoe, grab a piece of saran wrap and drape it over the top of your shoe. You want the piece to be large enough to overlap the masking tape all the way around.

Now, use more tape to tape the saran wrap down on top of the tape you’ve already masked. This is to protect the top and footbed of your shoe from the glue, glitter, and spray sealer that you will apply. Make sure this is secure!

Cut off a smallish piece of sandpaper- you want it to be easily maneuverable along all the curves of the heel of the shoe. Start lightly sanding. The idea is to give yourself a slightly rougher surface for the glue and glitter to better adhere to, not to sand all the color off your heel.

When you’ve gotten the shine off the plastic, you’re good to go. Keep sanding all the way around the heel, being careful right under the tape line.

If you’re working with a colored heel, you will have super fine colored dust everywhere. Keep it under control by wiping your hands and shoe down with a damp paper towel. You may need to switch to a new piece of sandpaper because the dust tends to clog up the paper. When you’re totally done sanding, give the heel a good wipe down so that the surface is clean.

Now, grab your mod podge and pour a little out onto a small plate or bowl. Using your brushes, carefully apply a very thin coat to the entire heel. Take care not to overlap the tape, or brush too much on the bottom rubber portion of the sole.  This coat will act as the “primer” coat and allow your glitter glue layer to adhere much better and more evenly.

Once the entire coat is dry (it will get glossy and turn clear), apply a slightly thicker coat evenly, to a small area. You want to start small because you don’t want the glue to dry before you can tap glitter onto it.

Set up your shoe on top of the plate (to catch the excess glitter) and pour the glitter carefully onto the glued portion. I like to lightly tap on the jar with my finger as I slowly tip.  Make sure you coat all the glue! Give the glue a second or two to absorb as much glitter as possible, and then lightly tap the bottom sole with your finger to loosen the excess glitter. If you start running out of the glitter in your jar, you can scoop up the glitter off the plate with your index card and carefully pour it back into the jar (making sure to work over your plate the whole time). As you move on to the next section, leave a little space around the one you just did (so that it can dry before you disturb it) and apply glue, glitter, and tap off excess.  At the end, you can brush glue over the blank areas (slightly overlapping the glittered areas) and tap on more glitter.

Almost final product! Let the glue dry completely, and then use your soft larger brush to gently, GENTLY knock off the excess glitter. You will find a surprising amount of glitter comes off on this step– it’s okay! if you end up with some sort of bald patches, you can just reapply more glue and glitter. It’s better that it comes off now, rather than later when you’re wearing them. When you’re satisfied with the glitter application, apply a few light coats of the spray sealer. Follow the directions on the spray bottle! One tip: let the sealer completely dry, and then run your fingers all along your shoe to see if any glitter comes off. If it does, hit that area with a little more sealer. Then, you can peel off your masking tape and saran wrap! Be careful, don’t go too fast, or some of the glitter (if you’ve been a little bit messy with your glue) can come off as you’re peeling. If an area is stuck, try scoring it with a fingernail or a razor blade to get it up.

And, you’re done! Wear your custom, home-made glitter shoes with pride =) Good luck!

UPDATE: I’ve had success in covering the entire heel in a final coat of mod podge to prevent glitter fallout when you wear them, but ONLY with very brightly colored glitters– applying mod podge over very deep, subtle glitters kills the shimmer significantly! So test before doing it to the entire heel. Your mileage may vary!

Tomorrow’s post: From the Vault- Fear of Flying…