In October promised that I would start posting more “personal” Wedding Planning stories. I realise I’ve not really done that yet. Mostly because I didn’t have anything that I wanted to reveal/share. Until now.
If you’re like me and have a few unusual ideas about what you want for your Wedding floating around in your head, then you might appreciate this post. I’d like to start by saying that the following is not going to be many people’s cup of tea. In fact, when I told my mum what I was planning to do to my Bridal Shoes, she told me, “you can’t do that!” in a tone that signified that she thought I’d either lost the plot or was being silly.
I got the idea to customise my Bridal Shoes from a friend’s facebook newsfeed back in July. She was raving about Cherry Choo’s, an astonishingly talented lady in Gloucester who customises shoes (mostly converse-style trainers and dap-type things) with various motifs, though most of her work consists of animation characters. I was inspired by this. I’ve always had a girl-crush on Rogue from the original X-Men TV series, and began having crazy thoughts about having Rogue drawn on my Bridal Shoes. So I emailed Cherry Choo’s. She was so helpful and made me feel that this strange idea of mine was not only awesome, but completely possible. I like people like that.
[Below: the image of Rogue I wanted on my shoes, taken from the cover of one of my brother-in-law’s comic collection]
As per my chats with Cherry Choo’s, I acquired the shoes I wanted to use from a Debenhams sale online.
[Below: my chosen Bridal Shoes]
Once I’d gotten hold of the shoes, a few creeping sensations began to plague me. First: I’d bought my shoes too early, and I spent ages doubting whether or not customising them was the right thing to do. I had too long to contemplate this. Second: I’ve always loved drawing, and was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t do this for myself. I was convinced I could do it. So I started drawing Rogue. My first attempt was too detailed, and I knew I couldn’t replicate it on a shoe. I also didn’t finish it, which was concerning… and it didn’t really look enough like the original image.
[Below: first attempt at Rogue]
My second attempt, although a lot less detailed, was too big, and I struggled to envisage how I could get the whole image on a shoe.
[Below: second attempt at Rogue]
Then, I had an epiphany. Tracing paper! I decided that I didn’t need the entire image, and I could just use whatever of the original would fit on the shoe. I drew around the available space of the shoe onto the tracing paper, so that I knew how much Rogue to draw.
[Below: tracing paper Rogue. Much better than my freestyle attempts]
This set the ball rolling. It took a bit of courage and a “ they’re my shoes and it’s my Wedding!” attitude to pin the tracing against the shoes and start pressing the pencil marks into the patent leather. But I did it.
[Below: pinning the tracing paper to the shoes with bulldog clips and the resulting pencil marks]
I then took the plunge and started drawing over the pencil marks with a Sharpie permanent marker on the left shoe. I was shaking with nerves, which meant that I accidentally made a mark near the left shoe Rogue’s nose. More on that later. My main problem at this stage was that some of the pencil marks on the shoe were not clear, and I tried to use the original picture to help me. This was problematic, as I’d flipped the image on the shoe, so the picture I was using to help was backwards.
[Below: the customisation takes shape and gathers mistakes]
I then realised that the best thing to use as a guide was the tracing paper drawing. I kicked myself for not thinking of it earlier. At this stage, I came across another problem that some of the pencil marks hadn’t taken at all – particularly for the arms, which were along an awkward bend in the shoe. I couldn’t re-apply the tracing paper, so had to sort of make it up.
[Below: using the tracing paper picture as a guide and making up Rogue’s arm]
I was really pleased with the first completed shoe, even if she had a defect near her nose.
[Below: the completed left shoe]
I decided to start the right shoe before worrying about what to do about left shoe Rogue’s nose defect. However, I should have waited. I should have calmed down. I was far too enthusiastic and dare I say it, even slightly cocky at this point. I’d been nervous with the left shoe, but that meant that I generally took a “less is more” attitude, and made careful, purposeful marks. The right shoe, however, saw me slapping on marks because I thought I’d get it right. I did not. I was careless and didn’t refer to the original trace enough. This resulted in right shoe Rogue looking a little like a toad, with too heavy eyes and too massive a pair of lips.
[Below: the completed pair of shoes. Notice in the second image how right shoe Rogue looks like a toad. I’m not afraid or too precious to admit this]
That evening, I googled how to remove Sharpie marks from patent leather. One method suggested nail varnish remover. The next morning, I tested a little bit on the underside of one of the shoes. Although it didn’t remove it completely, it certainly made the test mark a lot fainter. I thought this might be enough, so applied some nail varnish remover to the defect near left shoe Rogue’s nose. I don’t have an image of the mess I made doing that – I was far too stressed about it to take a picture at that stage. The tiny mark blurred across her face. I was gutted, but decided to raid my collection of paints. I found a “titanium white” acrylic (apparently permanent paint – we’ll see on that one), and gently dabbed it over the horrendous mess with a brush. This seemed to do the trick. I decided to paint over a section of right shoe toad Rogue’s lips to make them appear less bulging. I’m not sure why this didn’t work as well. I think perhaps I should have used the nail varnish remover first to make the permanent marker fainter, but given my experience on the left shoe, I was worried about doing that. It means now however that right shoe Rogue still looks like a toad, with an opaque black mark near her toady lips.
[Below: the patch-up paint jobs on imperfect left and right shoe Rogues]
I wish I’d taken more time with right shoe Rogue, as I know I could have done better. But that’s my only regret about doing this. I know that they’re not perfect, but I love them all the same, and am proud of what I’ve done, even if people are going to think I’m mental.
I’m fairly realistic about my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to drawing, and can reconcile with myself when I make mistakes. But I was still daunted by this task. If I hasn’t been sure that I either a) could do this or b) could accept my shoes, regardless if I made a mistake on them, I wouldn’t have done this myself. If you’re thinking of having customised Bridal Shoes, but can’t draw/are too scared/have too much to organise to be faffing with drawing on your shoes, then I’d recommend contacting Cherry Choo’s. Not only was she lovely and helpful, she was also very reasonable.
[Below: my finished Bridal Shoes]