Start with a pump-style shoe with a 4″ heel or higher (ours is the Mixx Rosemary Green Patent Pump, from lulus.com); any lower, and you won’t be able to see the design underneath very well. To add spikes, first use a wipeable marker to mark dots on the back of the shoe where you want each spike to be. (Note that the spikes should be placed only in the shoe’s upper; you don’t want to drill into the actual heel.) You can use a variety of different screw-back spikes—ours ranged from 3/8″ to 1″—which you can find at bead or trimming shops. Place your top mark at least 1/4″ below the top edge of the shoe and drill the initial holes, using a drill bit slightly larger than the screw on the spike. Go slow and watch your fingers! Push the screw through the shoe so it sticks out the back, and screw on the spike. Use a screwdriver to tighten all the spikes, so the screws’ backs are as flush to the inside of the shoe as possible. Repeat all the above for the second shoe.
Next you’ll paint under the heel’s arch. Put masking tape [A] on the shoe’s upper, all around the edge where it meets the sole. Clean the arch and the interior part of the heels with rubbing alcohol, then use a medium-sized brush to prime the areas to be painted with white acrylic paint [B] (we used Acryla, but any brand will work). You won’t need to prime the soles of the shoes (the part you walk on), but you can paint them a solid color for continuity’s sake. Let dry and apply another thin coat of primer. With a pencil, lightly draw a pattern or image that strikes your fancy; don’t forget the area under the heel. With a small paintbrush, apply one color of acrylic paint at a time to your design, letting each dry completely between colors. Work on one shoe as the other dries, and add the black outlines last [C]. Once completely dry, give the painted area two coats of Mod Podge with the medium brush (let it dry between coats).
Use a moleskin shoe pad (find at any drugstore), or a similar self-adhesive shoe pad, to cover the screws on the inside of the heel. Then slip these babies on and wait for the compliments to roll in.
By Callie Watts
Photographed by Emily Kate Roemer