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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Product Testing - Painting Shoes

Putting the Best Foot Forward

I am usually guilty of putting the cart before the horse when attempting something new.  In my enthusiasm I rush right in and before I realize it I have made every possible mistake - all avoidable if I slowed down and did a little testing here and there.  So when I decided I wanted to paint a leather chair (or two) I thought I might research a couple of products first.  

Leather painting (vinyl and pleather) is a bit challenging as it tends to move and stretch and you definitely don't want the paint to crack and peel off.  So I selected a couple pair of beat up leather shoes and proceed to google everything I could on paints.

I decided to try the new sharpie oil-based paint pens as sharpie pens have always done a good job and I loved these bright colors.  These are supposed to be available at craft and office supply stores, but hmmm, I had to order mine as I could not find them locally.  These are also supposed to adhere to anything!

I also chose Angelus Leather paint as they are made specifically for leather workers.  Their web site provided info and a way to order directly.

And so I began.... first out of the gate were the sharpie pens:

I immediately realized that the point of the pen was somewhat limiting as it took a lot of strokes to cover much territory.  Also I was disappointed that the color did not show up well on the dark leather (and my chair is also dark) but with patience I realized that at least 3 coats were needed for each color to reach maximum value.

 The gold on the shoe is gesso, not marker (a desperate move when the color was slow to show but also a good test).  The orange, pink and blue colors are from the sharpie paint markers.

Next I decided to try the angelus paints so I gathered up several small tipped, soft brushes. I had inquired as to whether or not the colors could be mixed and with a YES answer I was excited to get started.

The information on-line advised applying several thin coats of paint, letting it dry between each.  I really loved working with these as I could vary the size of my brush and thus get a different line.  They were fairly quick to dry so I did not have to wait overnight to do second, or third coats of color. And, just like the sharpies, the color got more vibrant as each coat went on.  I felt I had more artistic control with a brush than I did with a pen point.

So now the research and development department has to put the paints to the real test: wear and tear!

I'm out wearing these creations now trying to see if they hold up or fade or peel off.  For a complicated project (such as my chair) I will much prefer working with the paints: they can be mixed for new colors, blended more easily and applied with different size brushes.  For a quick craft project (place cards, small wooden or terra cotta pots and the like) I think the felt tip of the sharpies will work just fine, but remember that you may only work with the colors offered by Sharpie.

So I will subject these shoes to water, dirt, crinkles, wrinkles and maybe an occasional coffee spill, all in an effort to be certain that my masterpiece, the purple leather office chair, will hold up and retain its design while in use.  Have any old, comfy shoes in need of a sprucing up?  Have at it...we can compare notes!

Experimentally yours, 


  1. Great post Cindy. Love the shoes and the sketches. The sketches seemed to get better as time has passed.

  2. Absolutely they do! Continuous line needs to marinate, then they look fabulous.

  3. Wow! Did you plan out the shoe designs or just go at it. They are really great . . . I have to come over and see what you've done to your house!

  4. Come on over Vicki - you will like. The shoes were sorta planned and sorta know that routine. Got a pair to paint? I have a few other folks who want to get together and try again. just holler and trot by for a look/see.

  5. Well these are certainly some jazzy looking shoes, I love it!

  6. I absolutely LOVE these shoes, Cindy!! How fun!! Your imagination is so impressive! Can't wait to see your chair!
    Meanwhile, if you have a shoe painting party, please count me in!

  7. They look great and I had good results with sharpie oil pens on leather BUT how do I seal them? I used a recommended light acrylic spray but they got sticky!!! HELP what do you recommend?
    thanks, Sandy


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