Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Orleans: Proud to kale it home 2015 Muses Shoe

I know I just got finished saying I wouldn't be glittering until after my April move, but it turns out I'm a big liar (whoops).

I really was all packed up, but then Kale-Gate happened (see also here, here and a ton of other places...just google "new york times new orleans kale"). I knew a glittery, ruffly, leafy kale shoe needed to be my first shoe for the 2015 season, and once I mapped it out in my head I wanted to make it ASAP.

I started by mixing three glitters (approx. equal parts of forest green Jefferson Variety glitter, kelly green from Oriental Trading and Martha Stewart iridescent onyx which has a slight green tint) and glittering a nice little pump in my stash:
Glittered, but not embellished yet
The shoe is entirely covered in my custom "kale green" glitter mix, except the sole which is OT kelly green to match the ruffle.

I bought a roll of green glittery tulle from Michael's and make a nice leafy looking ruffle by folding it in half and running a needle and thread through the middle of the halved tulle to gather it. Tulle ruffles are super easy to make by hand and there was a ton of tulle on the roll. If it's still on sale when I next hit up Michael's (it's in the bridal section of my Michael's in Memphis), I will definitely get some more colors.

Turning a roll of tulle into my kale ruffle

When my ruffle was about the right length, I hot-glued it around the exterior edge of the shoe to kale it up. When I reached the end I adjusted the length and tied off the black thread so it would fit perfectly.

Shoe and ruffle ready to be joined

Lastly, I printed and re-sized the old "New Orleans Proud to call it home" bumper sticker so I could match the font and traced, changing "call' to "kale." I used lighter colors than the original (silver instead of black, lighter purple instead of dark purple) so the contrast would be a little better on the dark green base of the shoe.
"New Orleans" on one side

"Proud to kale it home" on the other side of the shoe.

Here are some pictures of the finished shoe:

Some pictures with flash to show the sparkle a little better:

Of course the drawback to working year round and starting this early on shoes is that the joke won't be as fresh in anyone's mind a year from now...but I have faith that New Orleaneans are have long memories and that Kale-Gate will survive.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

2014 Shoes - Lessons Learned

My sister's shoes bagged and ready to pack up for her 2014 ride.
My 2014 batch represented my third year of working on Muses Shoes (and of course, the first year I started actually keeping notes in blog/Pinterest form). It was certainly my most prolific year, both because I worked on them year round and because it's great stress relief and, for a whole  host of reasons, this past year was one where I needed a lot of that (though this year's going great so far). For Muses 2013, I only did 10 shoes. For 2012 I worked on a bunch, but didn't really do that many on my own (we sort of tag-teamed for 2012).

I can't really compare anything to that first year learning curve (which was INTENSE), but I think this was probably the year where I learned the most: I got to pick up some amazing tips from other ladies who work on Muses Shoes, I had a life-changing visit to The Glitter-age, and I got insights from my sister riding as a sub that had just never clicked for me before. In no particularly order, these were some of my takeaways from this year's shoes:

(1) I had never actually bagged and packed shoes before this year. I'd been keeping them in big ziplocs, and transporting them to NOLA in small batches. Once you start to pack them, you really quickly see what's fragile and what's fine to just shove into the bottom bag...and you want a lot more of the latter than the former. Fans of feathers, peacock feathers and single plumes are tougher to pack than shoes decorated with puffs of boa or marabou. A few delicate shoes are ok, but by and large tough shoes that can handle the ride are preferable.

(2) The importance of what I'm going to call generic-ness (or maybe versatility would be kinder?) I helped my sister load in and got her feedback post-ride. When you're riding, no matter how well you've organized your stuff, space is limited and it's tough to lay hands on a particular throw/shoe at any given moment, and when someone you know turns up on the route, you're going to grab whatever you can. If you see someone on the route dressed as Mike the Tiger, you may not be able to get your hands on an LSU shoe fast enough. If you have a friend who loves nothing better than Australian romance novels, you just may not be able to get that unique, custom shoe you elaborately built around that theme into their hand at the right moment. Some spots on the route it's a few people deep and you can get special shoes to your close friends with a little luck, and in some spots the crowds are much much crazier and it's more hit or miss. I hear a lot of horror stories on the web of people throwing their best shoes to their loved ones and seeing them stolen away. So, for 2015 I'm going to try to balance a bit better and keep universal appeal a priority in all my shoes.

(3) On that note, I have no idea what other riders do, but my sister threw only TWO of her shoes to people she knew (a family member, and neighbor who's like family) and every other shoe she threw to A STRANGER who (1) asked nicely, (2) was polite/well-behaved, and/or (3) had a sign she enjoyed. There's a lesson in there. I also recently read an article where a shoe-glittering Muse pointed out that her friends all had shoes already, so her 2014 shoes were all going to strangers. No one is entitled to a shoe (it drives me NUTS when I see that attitude on the Muses FB page) and there are not a ton of them to be had any given year (at most 30 per rider, and that's if every rider throws them), but it's not impossible to catch a shoe. The rarity of catching one is what makes it magical. Pray to the Goddesses of Carnival, ask the ladies riding very nicely, and if it just wasn't your year, there's always another. A parade is a heck of a free show, anything you catch on top of that is Lagniappe.

(4) It's funny which shoes are the biggest "crowd pleasers," they may not be the ones you put in the most hours on. My most repinned shoes of 2014 were (1) The Vintage Mardi Gras Shoe (2) The Snobliz Shoe and (3) The Roman Candy Wagon Shoe. If you're curious, my personal favs were the Retro Tattoo Shoe (which was one of the more time intensive), the Artichoke Shoe and the Ain't Dere No More Shoe.

(5) I had a ton of people tell me the shoes are prettier in person than in the photos...I don't know how to solve this. Shoe viewing party? Get-togethers with other shoe glitterers?

(6) Aqua Net hairspray to seal the shoes...what a revelation this was!!

(7) Always keep an eye out for supplies and ideas. They are everywhere. The stuff I save in my craft stash now has gotten embarrassing.

(8) Year round is the way to go (at least for me). I will get so much more done and be so much more relaxed if I take it on in manageable little chunks.

(9) Note to self: finish a shoe 100% before packing it up...I had a bunch of 95% finished shoes to finish up in  February, and it was kind of a hassle/boring to do them all in one go. I'm going to let myself leave a few unfinished, but mostly I need to see each and every shoe through. The other side of that coin is, I didn't have totally finished pics of a lot of my shoes, so I also need to be patient about waiting to photograph and posting a 100% finished shoe, rather than a 90-95% finished shoe. That doesn't seem to be a problem for other shoe glitterers (especially the ones who post their whole year's collection in one go), so this may just be a personal failing.

(10) Looking around the 'net, Pinterest, Facebook and shamelessly oogling shoes in the wild as people caught or threw them... it is clear to me that everyone seriously up'ed their shoe game this year. There were some unbelievable shoes out there this year (check out my board of Other People's Muses Shoes, you'll see what I mean). If I'm going to keep up, I'll need to bring my A game. I PLEDGE TO STEP IT UP FOR 2015.

Now, I know anyone who comes here probably comes for the pictures, not my meandering notes-to-self. We're going to be moving mid-April, so my supplies will be packed up until then, but I will resume posting shortly thereafter.