Monday, June 2, 2014


You know, I have not mentioned what a gorgeous spring we've had. We have had nothing to complain about weather-wise. The season has seen a gentle rise in temperature, plenty of rain, and mild humidity. Really wonderful - so of course no one mentions it! But in trying to be mindful about the now, I must say, I am grateful for this lovely spring. What a nice reward after such a brutal winter.
The garden is flourishing. I am in between blooms of things at the moment - sort of. The roses have exploded. Yet somehow in my mind- they don't count! Because I didn't plant them? They just came with the house? I'm not sure. Mr. El told me that a lady stopped and was just staring at the roses over my front porch. He talked with her and told me she just gushed over the roses. And they are gorgeous. A riot of magenta.
Coming soon... Shasta Daisies (above), Echinacea, garlic scapes, raspberries and tomatoes!
In the mean time - more busy bees 
 and grass for Swee'pea.
 Yep, had to make a pot of wheat grass for him. He was pilfering my thyme.
Not the basil, no no, the thyme - that is the good stuff. He seems to be satisfied with his little garden. 

Now! - on the the new obsession - 
To sum up:
1. I want to make my own shoes.
2. I don't want to ruin any I currently have.
3. I think this will be very involved. 
4. I made molds, lots of them, of my feet.
5. I'm working on making usable lasts. 
6. Plaster is fragile, but whaddayagonnado? 

Okay - 
I made a lot of casts of my feet:
Plaster casts from the Alginate mold (the one where I could stick my whole foot in and still get it out!) But I also decided plaster is too fragile to try to use a hammer on it. 

Next I cast these with some other miracle material that is a combination of paper pulp and plaster. These were made from the plaster wrap-molds I made of my feet (where I had to add the heals). Sounds good right? No. The stuff never dried even after a full day of letting them sit in a 200F° oven. They are finally starting to harden a week later. hmf. While not fragile, it is not going to stand up to any kind of beating.  
Also! The thought has occurred -  making a pair of shoes from feet-shaped lasts doesn't seem right. I don't want my shoes being the shape of my boney feet - I want them to be nice and smooth.

On to the next bright idea!

Find a pair of shoes I didn't mind sacrificing to the last-god.  I wish I hadn't taken apart the clogs with the torn toe from the previous post. But as I am now obsessed with this project, what about casting in a protective way from shoes that I really like?
The lovely red clogs would be perfect. They fit - I like the shape they are comfortable - problem solved, except for how to keep them from getting ruined by plaster. 


Makes perfect sense, right? Fill a balloon with plaster, like a water balloon, it will expand and as you fill it up you can just put it into the shoe and it will take the shape!
I still didn't want to ruin the red ones - or the pink ones - on the off chance my balloon theory was a bust. Rummaging in my closet and vast shoe collection I stumbled on a pair of my favorites - the brown ones in the middle.  I bought these - goodness knows how many years ago - in Seattle - 15 at least.  But they have seen better days. The leather is cracked and flaking and they just look generally shabby. I don't wear them anymore because of how shabby they look.  
Ergo - they are perfect for this project. 

 Back to the balloon theory...

It actually takes quite a bit of pressure to fill a balloon. Just pouring plaster into it isn't going to do it. I experimented with pouring water into the balloon and had to pull on the balloon to "inflate" it with the water. Conclusion #1 - this is either impossible or at the very least, a 2-person job. Conclusion #2 -  inflated balloons that are let go are fantastic cat toys!
And you can forget the cling wrap altogether. It doesn't cling to shoes. 

Final Conclusion: I must sacrifice the shoes entirely, in the name of my art.

First I coated the inside of the shoe with a mold release agent. (I suspect it's just a glycerine dish soap. Sure smells like one.)
Then I lined the inside of the shoe with plaster strips I could press in place. This is much more difficult that you'd think. It takes a lot of patience and a rubber spatula.
 Once the shoe is lined, you can pour the plaster in. I decided to add a pair of left over chopsticks as a handle to help me release the last when it was done. Turns out this was a very good idea.
I used the chopsticks to wiggle the plaster until it gave away.
But as always there is a learning curve and the first one I made just wasn't quite right. The second one (the left one) was much better. I had no choice but to cast that right shoe one more time. Thank goodness I hadn't already demolished it to get at the wooden base. 
Here they are! All three.

And here are all the other trials - all six (seven). 
 The final pair that I will use as soon as I can procure the right leather!
But they are plaster you say!? Yes. I decided to brave the plaster. I have coated them, first with PVA - which never quite dried for some reason. And then with an acrylic matt medium.  That seems to work well. I might even cover them with some buckram just to hold them together. Then if they break, at least I won't have a bunch of bits and pieces. 

I have salvaged the bases of the clogs for future use. They need a lot of sanding. 

But I think, it can be done. 

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