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Transform a plain pair of shoes into your own unique creation using just paint, paper and glue
We all have shoes we don’t wear any more – maybe we are bored with them, the colour isn’t right, or we like them so much that we have worn them out. This is your chance to give them a new lease of life! Once you’ve learned the technique, you will be able to upcycle other pairs at home: all you’ll need is time, patience, and a few very affordable materials and tools.

Posted by Gabriela Szulman from London, United Kingdom • Published See Gabriela Szulman's 7 projects »
  • How to make a pair of decoupage shoes. Upcycle Your Shoes With Decoupage - Step 1
    Step 1

    First clean either the whole shoe or just the area you intend to decoupage with a piece of cloth soaked in methylated spirits. The purpose of this is to remove old polish or anything greasy that may be on the surface of the shoe.

  • Step 2

    If the shoes are dark (black, brown, navy blue) it is best to give them a coat of white acrylic primer or acrylic paint first, as napkin paper is very transparent and therefore looks best on a light background. If in doubt, test your paper first: paint half a square of white card with black acrylic and then glue the paper across both halves to see how it looks on dark vs light background.
    Wait for the paint to dry – 20 to 30 minutes depending on the atmosphere. Use a hairdryer on warm setting if feeling impatient.

  • How to make a pair of decoupage shoes. Upcycle Your Shoes With Decoupage - Step 3
    Step 3

    Starting from the border of the shoe, paint a very thin layer of glue, pat down a piece of paper with your finger and lightly brush a layer of glue on top. Do the same with the next piece, slightly overlapping on the previous one. Alternate between shoes if the surface starts getting soggy. Avoid touching the pieces of paper you’ve just glued as you may lift them. Once the whole area is covered, allow to dry.

  • How to make a pair of decoupage shoes. Upcycle Your Shoes With Decoupage - Step 4
    Step 4

    When the shoes are completely dry, trim any untidy edges with the scalpel. Then sand down any uneven or wrinkled areas with the sanding block – do this very lightly or you may tear the paper. Dust the powder off with the kabuki brush.
    Paint a thin layer of glue all over. Allow to dry: you may notice that this top layer stays tacky for quite a while, as it takes 2-3 days for it to “cure” and dry completely. After that your upcycled shoes are ready to wear and be admired!

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