Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Footwork experimentation

So I just finished decorating a pair of shoes I promised my sister for her birthday.  It's the second pair I've done but the first shoes I did in Permanent Marker and there were a couple of problems with it as a medium, so this time I tried painting it on in Indian Ink instead.  Here's the breakdown now that I've finished them:

Permanent marker
+ Lots of different sized pens means a lot of precision and detail, so you can do some really fine work.
+ Easy to apply crisp lines
+ Hard to spill, or get on other stuff accidentally
- Limited range of colours (unless you are rich and can afford posh ones)
- Comes off/fades if you wash them -as I discovered after some guy trod on mine and I had to give them a rinse.  Yes there are tutorials all over the internet on sealing permanent marker drawings into clothing, but most of them involve heat and it's very difficult to iron a shoe.

+ An absolute devil to get out of any kind of textile, which in this case is a good thing, providing it's good quality ink.  I'm hoping it will stand up to a few gentle hand washes,
+ Soaks into the fabric, meaning it won't sit on the surface and crack when the shoe bends.
- Needs to be applied with a brush, which makes it hard to do a lot of detail and fine lines.
- When it soaks in it can spread a little
- Reacts differently to different fabrics.  You'll see this on the shoes.  On the canvas the ink stays pretty much where you put it, but cotton, such as on the seams and hems round the ankle of the shoes, soaks it up so the colour will shoot round it or soak through to the inside.  This is not necessarly a problem but needs to be known about so you can plan your work.

Anyway, here are the shoes:

She chose the design, and I think she probably based them off the shoes I did for myself, which is why there's a Day shoe and a Night shoe.  I love having a mismatched pair like that.   As you can (hopefully) tell it's a group of little autumn hedgehogs, having some fun before going to curl up for the winter.  Because who doesn't love anthropomorphic forest critters!!
This time round I made the design a lot simpler and less cluttered.  Like I said, I love my own shoes, but they really only work in close-up, since I put a LOT of stuff on them.  And surely you want other people to be able to admire your fine footwear without the aid of a maginifying glass, right? 
I was a bit worried that they'd look empty, but when you're standing up looking down at them, the balance is just about right.

I've stuck to black ink so far for reasons of time, money and... I just think it looks good. It can be easy to get carried away with elaborate colour schemes (especially when you're me) and just make a jumble of it.  I saw some painted shoes at a market that didn't look good at all, partly because people use bottle-colours rather than mixing their own, or they just haven't got a tone or colour palette worked out beforehand.  Also the trouble of controlling wet media on fabric pops up again, and the more colours you have going on, the easier is is to make mistakes you can't fix. That said, I'd love to start introducing some colour on the theoretical 'next pair' now I've had a couple of goes.

They took an evening to do, 2-3 hours per shoe.

And, for comparison, here are the first pair I did, the ones in permanent pen.  I de-saturated it to make up for the horrible tint my old digital camera put on it, but they are just black and white too.

See what I mean?  They are more 'me' (by which I mean weirder and with no unifying theme so a big jumble), and have more fine detail, but from far away it's all a bit busy, and as I said, the ink faded when I washed them.  See the mud mark on the toe?  Some guy stepped on my foot, on their first outing too!  Not that I care, I did those shoes for ME and I still love them.  They don't even fit any more and I can't bring myself to throw them away.  I love the way the monster is split across the two shoes, and the little lizards on the toe of the Day shoe.

I see positives and negatives on both ink and pen, but the positive for both is that the canvas soaks it up, stopping it from cracking as the shoe bends and flexes.  I want to try acrylic paint, for the colour more than anything else, but my worry is that as the shoe bends (especially as fabric shoes are so soft), the dried acrylic will crack and split so I may have to look into some kind of medium to get round that

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