Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Jewel Box Shoe

Stanley: What’s a rhinestone? 
Stella: Next door to glass
 - A Streetcar Named Desire

NOLA recently held the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, and as I've always loved that quote about rhinestones, it seemed a good time to post this particular shoe (which I've been calling the Jewel Box Shoe).

I've been looking at various totally rhinestone-covered shoe designs (for example, these boots, these heels on etsy, and any number of the shoes in this etsy shop) for a while, and I wanted to try a shoe that was semi-covered in rhinestones, but not entirely (so the glitter could still show through).

I started out glittering a pretty classic pump. All the glitter here was Recollections (the exterior purple is "Muse," the interior and heel are "Gold" and the sole is "Raspberry"). I lined the edges (around the top and sole of the shoe and along the seam at the back) with gold sequins.

A terrible picture, but the only one of have of the glittered shoe before it got covered in rhinestones
Once the shoe was totally glittered, I started gluing on a mix of random rhinestones I had in my stash using E6000. It would've been tough to apply all the rhinestones with hot glue, but I did notice the silver paint backing on some of the lower quality rhinestones reacted with the solvent in the E6000 and re-solubilized a smidge.

Pink sole, gold sequin edge around the sole.

The rhinestones remind me a bit of the Flying Horses at City Park (I remember being just fascinated by those big glass stones inset in the horses). Very happy with it overall, bagging for now (more details to add later).

3/30 to 3/31 saving some receipt details

Happy Easter y'all!

I was in NOLA for Easter weekend and have many updates to write up (including a trip to Jefferson Variety and my experience with Krylon Glitter Blast), but for now I wanted to get some boring details saved so I can throw out a few receipts:

Jefferson Variety Store (Mar. 30): $22.59 ($0.50 = sequins, 3 x $4.98 = three 4 oz tubes of crystalline glitter, $2.39 = sequin shrimp applique, 3 x $0.98 = little sequin Fleur de Lis appliques).

Gordon's of Metairie (Mar. 30): $8.68 ($6.99 = purple spray paint, $0.99 = styrofoam ball)

Joann (Mar. 30):  $4.99 = 16 oz Mod Podge Gloss (originally $9.99 with a 50% off coupon), $2.99 = Geranium bush on sale (regular price $5.99, spring flowers were on sale)

Some older receipts:
Michael's (Mar. 21): $2.39 = Eiffel Tower stickers, $4.79 = Krylon Glitter Blast (originally $7.99 bought with a 40% coupon)

Michael's (Mar. 14): $1.99 = Fish stickers, $1.00 = 5 yd roll of turquoise sequin trim, $1.00 = glitter butterfly, $1.00 = paper butterflies, $5.39 = Recollections "Peacock" Extra Fine Glitter (originally $8.99, with a 40% off coupon)

Goodwill (Mar. 9): $24.05 for five pairs of shoes = $1.99, $9.99, $6.99, $3.49, $3.49, minus $3.89 discount (average = approx. $4 per pair)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Repeat Shoes - Zebra Diva Shoe version 2.0

Another repeat shoe, this time the mate of the Zebra Diva Shoe

Essentially the same as the first one, with a slightly coppery-er gold on the interior and sole. Tons of pictures because I love this one so much:

The copper and hot pink are both Recollections, the pale pink and black stripes are both Martha Stewart. Again, existing stripes traced rather than free-handed. I've added the hot pink sequins, but haven't added any other embellishments yet.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Glitters, Paints and Techniques to Try - Part 1

My resources are limited when it comes to Muses shoes, partly by design. The saying goes: "Do it fast, do it cheap, do it only get to pick two." The challenge of trying to maximize the quality of the end product while minimizing cost is a big part of the fun for me. I like to think that trying to push my boundaries of patience and creativity from time to time is good for me mentally.

The trouble with this approach is, I tend to not want to "waste" any time or resources on trying new things. My general approach of combining Mod Podge with a combination of any of my "go to" glitters usually works beautifully, so despite the embarrassment of craft product riches out there, I don't really stray from my process.

But if my exposure to the pharmaceutical industry has taught me nothing, it's the value of investing in R&D, so I'm going to keep a list of New Stuff to Try, and make an effort to give new things a whirl as well.

(1) Krylon Glitter Blast spray glitter
I talked about my concerns with Krylon Glitter Blast a little here, but in spite of all the abysmal reviews, I do still want to try it myself. Mom had a coupon to burn at Michael's and procured this fabulous shade of purple (Glitter Glitz):

So we're gonna take that for a spin. Reading the reviews on using the spray suggest you want to (a) base coat your shoes with a similar color before glittering (which I think is a good idea anyhow) and (b) get everything lined up and ready to glitter in case you can't stop once you press the nozzle.

(2) Oriental Trading glitter assortments:
I've never tried them before, but oriental trading has some glitter assortments with 4 to 5 tubes (that are 2.5 ox each) grouped by a theme, like the Springtime assortment (pastels) and Halloween assortment (purple, green, black and orange). The five or four tube assortments are both $8.50, and the glitter is described as "very fine" (too chunky = no good for Muses shoes, in my experience). If this glitter is suitable (sparkly/fine enough), you'd be getting 10-12.5 ounces of glitter for $8.50, plus shipping ($0.85-$0.68 an ounce, before shipping). If you were already placing an order for something else at Oriental Trading, that could be a mighty fine glitter deal (on par with some of the best deals at Michael's or Joann's).

(3) Glitter Paint
There are a lot of paints with glitter built into them, and I've never really investigated them much because I assumed they couldn't achieve as much sparkle as the pure, uncut glitter (Wow, I really do sound like a glitter addict). I've been thinking I should try some out, because the potential reduction in glittery/glue-y messiness cannot be discounted (I'll be better able to estimate the sparkle-for-mess trade off when I actually evaluate the alternative).

Some specific options:
Martha Stewart glitter paint (I think Joann's and Michael's carry this line)
Folk Art Extreme Glitter paint by Plaid: product info here, interesting Craft Test Dummies product review here

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Few Muses-Themed Fashions

Like any homesick transplant, from time to time I do a little online window shopping: the NOLA t-shirts at Dirty Coast and Storyville, the NOLA jewelry at Mignon Faget and the various awesome accessories at Fleurty Girl. Here are some fashion selections that might be particularly appropriate to wear that special Thursday evening.


Dirty Coast "Throw Me Sumthin' Sista" shirt

Etsy seller inexplicableconfetti's "Shoe Dat" t-shirt

It's not actually available as a shirt per se, but I love this and this entry in the Storyville Mardi Gras shirt contest (Contest #19)

And here's a pretty extensive collection of shoe-themed t-shirts


The most glamorous Muses accessories are certainly the ones the ladies throw (oh, how I adore those shoe bracelets and flashing rings!), but since those are more of a privilege than a right, exploring other options is worthwhile. Etsy has some great Barbie shoe jewelry that I think would be fun to wear to Muses (or, maybe make your own Barbie shoe earrings or bracelets?)

A brightly colored wig (maybe from Fifi Mahony's?) would certainly be eye-catching.

Of course, this article suggests that the ultimate accessory for viewing Muses is a sign...


If you want to wear sparkly heels while trying to catch glittery heels, they're relatively easy to track down right now due to the wild popularity of the sparkly shoe trend.

If you're a more practical gal but still want some sparkle on your feet, you could get some glittery sneakers or flats, either from standard commercial sources or on etsy. A few examples follow:
   Sequined converses
   Sequined dance lowtop sneakers (those are really cheap, so they may not be super substantial)

Etsy seller Princess Pumps has great sequin sneakers (and many neat riffs on the classic ruby slipper)

Or you could really get into the spirit and make your own

Maybe you even snagged some Muses shoelaces in 2013 to add to your pair?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sucre Shoe (work in progress)

New Orleans natives have a tendency to place a lot of cultural emphasis on tradition, and we can sometimes take it to impressive extremes. Just consider the intense level of attachment New Orleanians express for things which do not actually exist any more. Consider exhibit A, exhibit B, exhibit C, exhibit D ..and I could go on. I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with this approach, and certainly count myself in that number, but seriously...New Orleanians publish and read books about restaurants that you cannot patronize without a time machine.

Considering our fondness for things that have been in NOLA forever, the degree to which Sucre has become iconic in a relatively short time is pretty remarkable. Everything at Sucre is ludicrously delicious, they make the prettiest King Cakes of all time and even if you don't have a sweet tooth the distinctive designs of their products, packaging and shops are treats in and of themselves. That being said, my favorite thing about Sucre is that it symbolizes, in my mind at least, New Orleanians' capacity to make room in our hearts to love new things too.

I was so pleased with the Muse-ified logo/packaging I did for the Hubig's shoe that I wanted to try it again with some other beloved (and recognizable) NOLA brands and cultural landmarks. I hunted for a while for glitter that reasonably represented the signature Sucre colors (a distinctive combination of intense seafoam green with accents of rich chocolate brown) and set to work on a pair of open toe pumps that had the right retro Hollywood feel. It's still got a ways to go, but here are a couple of shots of the Sucre shoe starting to take shape:

Repeat shoes - King Cake Shoe version 2.0

I'm rattling off a few repeats of 2013 shoes that I particularly liked: the King Cake Shoe, the Hubig's Pie Shoe and the Zebra Diva Shoe. This time I'm experiencing less of a time crunch, so I can document the process with a little more detail.

For the king cake shoe, the base is a red suede shoe which I think gives the final coloring some warmth. I mix four shades of gold and tan and a copious amount of cinnamon to achieve the final king cake color:

After the shoe is totally brioched up (that's a thing, right?), I added "icing" (a bit of a non-canon move because the ideal King Cake I'm envisioning is the famously icing-free McKenzie's version). Icing was represented by a nice slathering of slightly iridescent white puff paint (color "white mist").

Glitter representing sugar was added while the paint was still wet enough to secure it: Martha Stewart "sugar plum," "sour apple," and "lemon drop." It was accidental, but I love that all three "sugar" glitters are named for edible treats and have a candy-ish quality to them.

King Cake shoe v. 2.0 after "icing" and glittering

I seriously debated having a "cherry bonus" on the second iteration of this shoe. The cherry bonus (not its technical term per se, but the description I like best) was to the best of my knowledge unique to the McKenzies king cakes of old. It was a piece on the end with a big bright red candied cherry and a burst of sprinkles and, if memory serves, always housed the baby. I ultimately decided against it because it seemed like it might be too obscure a reference. My inability to turn up an photographic evidence online supports this theory (this and this are all I've turned up, and they're both recreations). 

A few more shots of the semi-finished shoe: 

I'm bagging and putting this one away for now. It'll get some more detail later on, including "Muses" and the year written on the platform, a king cake baby or two. Two down!

A collection of Muses websites, articles and blog entries

Muses Shoes Pinterest Boards:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 Shoe #10 - Blush and Bashful

"I like pink. Pink is my signature color."

2013 was the 25th Anniversary of Steel Magnolias (the stage version, the film wouldn't come out until 1989). I have a deep and abiding love of Steel Magnolias, so I wanted to have at least one-themed tribute shoe, a Muses shoe I think Shelby would've wanted to catch.

Truvy: What are your colors, Shelby?
Shelby: They're "blush" and "bashful."
M'Lynn: Her colors are "pink" and "pink."
Shelby: My colors are "blush" and "bashful," Mama!
M'Lynn: How precious is the wedding gonna get, I ask you?
Shelby: My colors are "blush" and "bashful." I have chosen two shades of pink, one is much deeper than the other.

Two shades of pink, one much deeper than the other (of course, I'm not honestly sure which is blush and which is bashful) The exterior of the shoe is hot pink and the interior is a pale pink (both Recollections, in "raspberry" and bubblegum," respectively). Hot pink sequin trim around the edges.
This was one of two 2013 shoes that got MUSES tiles. Details on how I made them are in this post. I tried to get a sideways shot to show the 3D effect you get with the mini-tiles.

Bird's eye view of the shoe, showing the placement of the "MUSES" tiles on the front of the shoe

The entire bottom of the shoe was a holographic pink from Joann's (don't remember the brand and color specs). Sometimes I delineate the heel, but I didn't on this shoe. The edge around the bottom of the shoe and edge around the top of the shoe were lined with hot pink sequin trim.

Not shown here, but I also wrote "Muses" and "2013" on this shoe with silver glitter, because if Shelby and Jackson first got married in 1988 it would've been Shelby and Jackson's silver anniversary this year. Next year will be the 25th anniversary of the film, so I may still be able to do some of the Steel Magnolias themed shoes I didn't do in 2013.

And with that, I am caught up on 2013 shoes, so all shoes from here on out will be for post-2013 seasons. And now I think I'll go watch Steel Magnolias again...if you can't say anything nice, come sit by me!

2013 Shoe #9 - The Hubig's Pie Shoe

I don't expect there are many New Orleanians who don't have a deep emotional attachment to Hubig's (as the staggering number of Hubig's tattoos out there will attest). Given what a significant event the fire was last year, it's no surprise there were some really amazing Hubig's Pie shoes this year, including this amazing tribute.

I let how how I wanted to do mine rattle around in my head for a while, because I had to wait until I found a shoe with the correct topography. I eventually found the perfect pair at Payless: they were $9 during a BOGO sale, so two pairs came out to $6.75 a pair or $3.38 per shoe...I'll post a shot of the other pair I bought later when I start working on them. And yes, I did have a lot of fun watching the face on the salesgirl who got to ring up the two cheapest, most glittery pairs of 6" tall stripper shoes in the place. 

I wanted to do a Muses-flavored riff on the famous Hubig's logo and distinctive packaging, because Hubig's are every bit as much a visual treat as a culinary treat. I used Martha Stewart cherry red metallic glitter (color "garnet") and Martha Stewart lemon yellow (color "lemon drop") for the main body of the shoe because those are the two principle colors in the logo. I printed the logo, and traced a slightly simplified version of the logo and made some alterations (changed "Hubig's" to say "Muses," changed the "H" on the hat to an "M," and put a high heel in Simon's hand instead of a pie) onto wax paper. I scanned and printed the reworked design, cut it out and decoupaged it onto the wedge with Mod Podge, and set about meticulously tracing it in glitter (which took a lot of patience and a lot of touching up). Instead of "New Orleans Style Pies" I wrote "New Orleans Style Shoes" on the other side of the wedge in dark blue. Instead of "cherry" or "apple" as a flavor, I figured the flavor that made the most sense for Muses' New Orleans Style Shoes was GLITTER (though I kept the price at $1.19). I did that lettering with a transfer technique that I'll get into with a little more detail later. I tried to match that great fluorescent pink ink they use to stamp the price and flavor on the bag, and did the sole of the shoe in the same pink and edged the sole with matching hot pink sequins. I edged the main body of the shoe in black sequin trim to echo the logo, and I loved the way that turned out.

The finished Hubig's Pie shoe

The "flavor" and price on the platform,

Another angle of the finished shoe that shows the bright, glittery red interior.

A clearer shot of the Muses/Hubig's logo (note the glittery pink shoe in hand and the tiny M on Simon's hat)

"New Orleans Style Shoes" in deep blue on the other side

I thought the lemon yellow, cherry red and black color scheme on the main body of the shoe gave it kind of a retro comic book Super Hero vibe.

Hot pink sole and sequin trim.

2013 Shoe #8 - The Mardi Gras Doubloon Shoe

I wanted to do a really over-the-top Mardi Gras shoe centered around that classic Mardi Gras combo of purple, green and gold (pretty funny article involving purple, green and gold here).

After 2012 Mardi Gras, I picked up some on sale crafty things at Michael's, including a bag of doubloons. They were generic Carnival-themed doubloons (with masks on them) and very lightweight so I felt like I could put plenty of them on a shoe.

The finished shoe: the green and gold were Tulip glitter, the purple was Recollections (in color "Muse"). The shoe was black leather in a somewhat punk-esque pathwork style, so I followed the segmentation already present in the shoe. After all the regions were glittered, all the edges/seams were lined with hot pink sequin trim and clusters of doubloons were glued on.  "Muses" was written in hot pink glitter (Recollections in color "Raspberry") to match the trim.

King Cake baby, hanging out in the clusters of doubloons on the front of the shoe. Sole and interior were glittered green.

2013 Shoe #7 - The Zebra Diva Shoe

Sometimes you start with a pair of pretty run of the mill, and you only see Muses shoe potential in them after they've been transformed with a great deal of glitter, sequins and feathers. Then there are shoes that are very easy to see as future Muses shoes, and you just follow the existing design in glitter to unlock the trapped Muses shoe potential. I got a pair of shoes on e-bay that had 6" stiletto heels, a big platform and ZEBRA STRIPES, and this was one of those cases of obviously-destined-to-be-Muses-shoes.

The shoes I started with were the same as or very similar to these. I can't find the ebay store I used, but I know I got them cheaper (prices vary a fair bit from ebay seller to seller, and I added them to my watch list and kept an eye on them until the went on sale). I liked this one so much, I'm repeating this design on the other shoe of this pair and hardly changing anything.

The finished Zebra Diva shoe: gold interior and sole (Recollections in "gold"), hot pink stiletto heel and platform (Recollections in "raspberry") and pink and black zebra stripes (both Martha Stewart, I'm not sure what the pink was but the black was MS "Onyx"). Edges were all lined with hot pink sequin trim from the seemingly never ending spool from Jefferson Variety.

Another shot of the finished stripes. I have since learned to free hand stripes, but on this shoe I traced them. To make the stripes glittery, I added a coat of pink, let that totally dry, then traced the stripes with black 3D puff paint and onyx glitter, let that totally dry and really shook off the excess so the colors would be cleanly separated and added another coat of pink between the stripes. Using the 3D puff paint made the black really pronounced against the pink, and added a tiny bit of raised texture to the shoe.

Showing the "MUSES" mini-tiles I used on this shoe (details on the mini-tiles in this post). 

Shot with flash, showing the shoe's gold sole

2013 Shoe #6 - The Peacock Shoe

The peacock shoe was made from the mate of the hot pink and purple shoe, so it's another slingback open toe wedge. I started glittering this shoe in purple and blue and green, initially going for kind of a Sirens of New Orleans color scheme, but decided it would be fun to accent it with peacock feathers instead and went with that.

The finished peacock shoe: purple interior, bright peacock blue on the sole and main body of the shoe, gold wedge, seafoam green toe, sea foam green sequins and jade rhinestones around the edges and a little feathery accent I made with peacock feathers from Michael's, pheasant feathers I had, and a teardrop shaped rhinestone.

The other, relatively un-embellished, side of the shoe, showing the exterior color scheme and sequins and rhinestones along the edges. I'm not sure what the precise colors were, but brand-wise, the peacock blue and purple were Tulip, the gold on the wedge was Recollections and the green on the toe was Martha Stewart.

A shot with the flash on, to show the bright green "Muses" and feather accent more clearly. Feathers are kind of a pain, because they never seem to go on sale, and are usually sold in packs containing relatively small numbers so it's hard to really get your coupon's worth. I've been eyeing (pun intended) some of the bigger packs on Amazon because the price per feather is pretty good, but I think my storage space may be too limited for a bulk peacock feather purchase.

2013 Shoe #5 - Hot pink and purple

Another pretty straightforward design, a slingback wedge open toe shoe in gold (Recollections), hot pink (Martha Stewart) and purple (also Martha Stewart). I don't normally like lose straps, but I really liked this shoe shape (I used the other for the 2013 Peacock Shoe). I'm pretty sure these shoes were picked up at Goodwill (they were a brown leather with wicker wedges, and got a spray painted coat of gold before glittering). 

Almost finished shoe - gold body, purple interior and sole, hot pink wedge, hot pink sequin trim, glittery flower embellishment, gold lettering on the wedge
The flower embellishment on this shoe was a discounted decoration from Target that was deeply onsale after Christmas. The center was a little beat up, so I trimmed it and added a big pearl and some hot pink sequins so it would lean a little more in the tropical flower direction and less in the poinsettia direction.

The edges were lined in hot pink sequin trim. I bought a huge roll of hot pink sequin trim at Jefferson Variety 6 or 7 years ago for a costume and I'm still working through it. That roll is huge. I think I use approx. 1-2 yards of trim per shoe, but that's a ballpark and obviously depends on the shoe.

Showing the "Muses 2013" on the wedge (this was one of the only ones I dated in 2013 because I wasn't sure how many of the ten I made in 2013 would actually be thrown, though in the end they all were)

After some debate about whether or not it would be too much, I eventually added some purple and pink rhinestones to the gold body of the shoe, but never got any pictures of the totally finished shoe.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

2013 Shoe #4 -Blue and Silver Fleur-de-lis Shoe

A pretty straightforward blue and silver design. The silver glitter is Recollections, the blue is Tulip "Turquoise Jewel."

The finished shoe, entirely blue and silver. I traced the little eyelets on the shoe with silver 3D puff paint and silver glitter. The photos don't really show it as well, but the Recollections silver glitter is more holographic than than the Tulip silver glitter. The edges were lined with holographic silver sequin trim from Michael's.

Beautiful silver bead and sequin fleur-de-lis accent

You can see a tiny bit of the blue sole of the shoe

2013 Shoe #3 - The Butterfly Garden

"Carnival is a butterfly of winter, whose last mad flight of Mardi Gras forever ends his glory. Another season is the glory of another butterfly, and the tattered, scattered fragments of rainbow wings are in turn the record of his day."
~ Perry Young

The butterfly garden has a couple of sources of inspiration, mainly these wearable-art-shoes by etsy seller MerloDesigns: Butterfly Garden Nature High Heel Pumps and Nature Forest Wedge Heels, and also the Butterfly Walk at the City Park botanical gardens.

Generally speaking, having butterflies on shoes also appeals to me because of the famous quote above and the neon butterfly puppets in the Muses parade.

The Butterfly Garden shoe after the first few (of many) rounds of glittering (Gold Recollections on the wedge, a few difference shades of Martha Stewart greens on the exterior). It always takes patience to get the glitter on right, but this shoe took a lot of extra drying time steps because I wanted the greens a little mottled.

Ultimately about 5-6 different shades of green went onto this shoe to give it a dappled, naturalistic effect (and because I didn't really have enough of any one shade of green to cover the whole shoe). I went for more yellow greens for the inside of the shoe to contrast the brighter exterior shoe greens. I applied the puff paint on really thick on the "Muses" on this shoe, which is risky because it's more prone to smudging, but here it yielded a great 3D effect.

The butterflies I've had in my craft stash for a long time. I tried not to overload the shoe with butterflies, so did a base of flowers and vines, then I picked specific flowers for them to perch on. The pink and purple flowers were from a bag of embellishments that was crazy on sale at Michael's (I want to say it was originally a kit for decorating flip flops). There were some daisies in there, but I didn't think they really fit. I added some crystal bead centers to most of the flowers and added glitter to the vines so there'd be a little extra shimmer. Looking back I could have given the petals glitter edges if I'd had more time. The butterflies were already glittered.

I added some garden maze designs to the bottom of the shoe in a slightly yellow-er green, so they'd be subtle. I sort of had the French garden labyrinths in mind, though I can admit they have a pretty crop-circle-y vibe going as well.

One the heel, I added a little M in the style of initials carved in a tree with brown glitter (Martha Stewart in "Brownstone"). This picture also shows the pretty little pebble border. We got a little bag of decorative pebbles to try out as a potential vase filler for my wedding. We ultimately scraped the idea, leaving me with some beautiful little pebbles in my craft supply stash. I was inspired by the pebble borders on this gorgeous artsy shoe.

This is a shot with the flash on to show the different shades of green a little more clearly

 I don't have this shoe's mate, so it won't be a straight up repeat like some of my others, but I think I'll probably do some more shoes in this vein, because I like the final shoe so much and always have tons of butterflies and fake flowers on hand (and plenty of leftover pebbles still). Maybe more Botanical Garden themed shoes, like something inspired by the Lily Pond or the Rose Beds or the Zen Garden? I think a trip to the Botanical Gardens is definitely in order when it's warm out...