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Starry Skies and Sneakers

Photo by Amber Helsel.

If you know me, you probably know that Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers are one of my most favorite things in the world. I have probably about 10 to 15 pairs. (I haven't counted lately).

My favorite kind to have on hand are black ones because they go with almost anything—and because of their canvas material, they're also an ideal surface for painting. My second biggest artistic inspiration outside of geodes are galaxies, so I decided to give an old pair of black lo-tops a space-y look.

For this tutorial, I happened to use a pair of old Converses, but if you don't have an old pair, as long as the sneakers—or other shoes—are canvas-based, you can use them.

This DIY tutorial would be a great present for someone who loves shoes—and space. Keep in mind that this is an organic method of painting. As long as it looks like a galaxy, what you do is probably fine. You can get as detailed or as simple as you want.

Materials

Canvas sneakers or other shoes (look for the care tag on the tongue and make sure it says canvas upper)

Fabric medium

Spray varnish

A galaxy photo for inspiration, and a guideline for the colors and design

Acrylic paint in white and black, and also colors related to your galaxy

Masking tape

Palette for paint (you can use a paper plate, cardboard or a similar disposable surface)

Paint brushes and sponges: one flat brush, a few paint sponges, and one or two detail brushes.

Directions

Practice your galaxy on scratch paper first if you want. Just make sure not to use all of your paint.

To prepare the shoes, mask off the toecap, rubber sides and back, and shoelace holes. You can also mask off the tongue if you don't want to paint it.

Mix two parts of the black acrylic paint with one part of the textile medium. Make sure you have enough to cover the shoe. Then, mix the other paints with the same ratio.

Using the flat brush, paint black over the fabric area.

Mix the colors as needed, and then sponge them on, making sure to blend them into the black to make it look like a galaxy. Use your photo inspiration to create the colors and swirls in your galaxy. When painting, keep in mind that the colors will dry darker, so if you're not careful, the colors may blend too well with the black.

When you're done, dab one of the detail brushes into a little bit of the white paint and then silver paint, and use your thumb to flick the bristles and splatter the galaxy with stars. Don't go too crazy on this part. You want enough stars to make it look cool, but not so many that it's overwhelming. You can also use the detail brush to dot bigger stars onto the shoes, using gold, white, silver or light pastel colors.

Let them dry overnight. Once the paint is completely dry, inspect them and make sure the galaxy looks how you want it to. If you have to repaint certain areas, use the same ratio of paint and medium. Keep in mind that if you decide to repaint the entire shoe, it could end up too stiff to wear.

When and if your galaxy is to your liking, take off the masking tape, and gently take the shoes outside or to a well-ventilated area and spray them down with an even coat of varnish. Let that dry overnight, then repeat the process two more times.


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