The Empire Kicks Back: Star Wars Shoe Craft

StarWars.com Team | October 20, 2009

Crafty Star Wars fan Damian Dayton literally walks the fanboy talk by customizing his shoes to show off his love for the characters living in a galaxy far, far away. Starwars.com chats with him about why he likes to transform ordinary kicks into shoes worthy of an Empire.

Why do you like giving shoes a Star Wars makeover?

Ever since I was little I knew that Star Was was cooler than me. By putting some Star Wars on shoes, I thought that a little bit of the Force might just rub off on me. Truthfully, I just like to draw, and drawing on shoes allows me to customize my life a little bit.

Doing shoes for friends allows me to have encouragement to create art, or at least craft. I try to capture a little bit of their personalities in the work I do and I have a lot of friends that like Star Wars. My brothers are big fans and my best friend Adam knows every single creature in the Star Wars universe (and I think he speaks a few languages). So it was just a matter of time.

Why do you think Star Wars shoes are cooler than the usual kicks?

Anything is at least 12%-15% cooler with Star Wars stuff on it (with the exception of Jar Jar Binks, maybe). Consider the Slanket, unless you want to look like a wizard who got dressed in the dark, it is a horrible, horrible idea. Now if that Slanket had a picture of Boba Fett playing an electric guitar, or a screen print of Jabba the Hutt (complete with Salacious Crumb), I’d be like “Oh, where can I get one of those!”

What inspired your Darth Vader pair of shoes?

Darth Kicks were my first Star Wars shoes. I thought that I should go evil with it. I think there is an extra cool caché with evil characters right now. Maybe it’s from the Post-Modernism of The Clone Wars but stormtroopers seem to have a resurgence of cool as does Darth Vader. He’s not totally evil. Sure, he destroyed a few planets, but remember how he stuck it to Grand Moff Tarkin and all those empire bureaucrats?

I don’t think anyone would want a pair of Luke shoe’s whining about power converters (my VERY FIRST vans have clouds on them and I call them my Skywalkers). C-3PO in gold on a brown shoe would look cool, but the idea is almost a non-starter. Nobody wants a protocol shoe.

What kind of paints did you use?

Okay, this is the embarrassing part. My shoes are not archival. They will wear down. Remember how revolutionary Star Wars was because the future wasn’t pristine? Well, my shoes are like that too. I use mostly acrylic paints, sometimes gesso, paint pens and sharpies. Fabric Mate also makes some great fabric pens. Then I give them a good spritz of protectant (that I am still experimenting with if anyone has suggestions).

My first few shoes were all Sharpie, but for lighter colors you have to go with something a little more viscous the white pens just don’t cut it. I mostly paint just the white parts and then draw everything else. I like the process of drawing more than painting and you don’t have to wait for as much drying time. When I do the Darth kicks I paint all of the white parts and block in anything that will be in color with white, then come back with paint pens and Sharpies to add the details.

What advice can you give other crafty fans who want to give their shoes a dark side makeover?

This is TOTALLY easy. You should do it!

TIP 1: BUY CHEAP SHOES. If you are nervous — buy a pair of Vans-like shoes at Wal-Mart (they’re like $10 bucks). Then buy a box of chalk. You can draw with the chalk on the shoes first to try out your design, then come back with Sharpie. My stormtrompers are a pair of Wal-mart shoes with nothing but Sharpie on them. It’s totally fun to knock out while you are watching TV and at worse you are out $10 if your drawing doesn’t work. With the paint, you might want to experiment a little first.

Tip 2: PROPORTIONS ARE KEY. The triangle you make from eyes to mouth is what we humans use to recognize each other and while there is not a lot of detail in these designs, getting that proportion right is important in making them recognizable.

Tip 3: LESS IS MORE. Too much detail will ruin the negative space try to figure out what is the minimum requirement of detail to put on this shoe to make it look like you want it to. I spend more time thinking about what I want to put on the shoe and how I want to place it than my actual painting/drawing process.

Most mistakes are happy ones that make the shoe look better. I have only ruined two pair of shoes so far, and some of my favorite shoes now are ones that I thought were horrible ideas to begin with. I did a pair of Falcor from The Never-ending Story which I dreaded but now I think they look totally boss, despite their unwillingness to stick it to authority.


Read more here:
Shoe Vader: The Empire Kicks Back

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