Do you own a pair of dance shoes that are looking a little worn and need a lift? Adding diamontes / rhinestones is a great way to both extend the life of your shoes and add some extra sparkle to your performance. I decided to do a series of blogs dedicated to Ballroom and Latin shoe decorating as there are so many ways to bling your shoes. First blog of the series gives step by step instructions on how to decorate Latin shoes with one of the simplest yet effective methods most suitable for beginner shoe decorators.
For this exercise I "borrowed" a pair of slightly worn Latin shoes. They were in very good condition although the heels were slightly marked and damaged.
Which designs are suitable? When deciding on your choice of design there are a number of factors you should be aware of before covering your shoes with glass crystals. If your dance routines consist of any movements that involve sliding your shoes sideways along the floor it is possible you may scratch or mark some floor types. Be also careful if you hit yourself with your shoes they are no longer as soft as before! With this in mind I would highly recommend you practice your dance moves with your newly sparkled shoes before wearing them for the big show or competition.
The chosen design for our demonstration shoes was to encrust the outside half heel from the centre back line and finish off with a feature of stones on the front straps.
Which are the best diamontes / rhinestones to use for decorating shoes? Don't use large size rhinestones or jewel stones for dance shoes as they will add extra weight and could be dangerous on the dancefloor. For coverage of larger areas such as heels I would recommend using either ss20, ss16 or smaller size diamontes. Of course the smaller the stone the more fiddly the job! For this demonstration I chose the ss20's and I would encourage anyone doing this for the first time to do the same.
Colour wise this is entirely dependant on the design and effect you are after. Many Ballroom and Latin shoes are made in flesh coloured satin and often Crystal or Crystal AB are a lovely choice if looking for something neutral. I have chosen Crystal AB as they are a very popular feature colour in DanceSport.
Which glue should I use to decorate dance shoes? This is an important choice as you need an industrial strength glue to withstand the vigorous activity when used for dancing. My recommendation is E6000 which can be purchased in a large or small size tube. It cures with maximum flexibility and is waterproof. The smaller 29ml tubes sold on this website come with small precision tip nozzles perfect for shoe decorating and definitely needed for design work. Caution: Do read the safety instructions for this product and make sure you have a well ventilated area to help avoid breathing harmful vapours.
So let's get started. I started with the heels first and used chalk to draw a starting line down the centre back.
Carefully squeeze out a narrow line of glue along your line and commence gluing diamontes making sure your line in very neat and straight.
Once the first line is in place you can use this as a guide to continue gluing lines of stones.
Obviously heels are an odd shape and have lots of curves and you will need to decide as you go how best to fill the area with stones. In this case I kept adding lines and then decided to go around the top edges and eventually filled in the gaps as needed.
I had some smaller ss16 rhinestones which I used to straighten up the finishing lines along the lower heel. If you don't have any other sizes on hand you may need to outline the entire area first and then fill-in the remainder.
Now for the other shoe. To make sure they both look like an identical pair it's wise to glue your diamontes in the same method as used for the first shoe, remembering of course your two shoes are not exactly the same, they are a mirror image of each other. I know this is stating the obvious but knowing Dancers, you are probably attempting this after midnight the night before a competition!!
Next we decorate the straps across the toes. To make sure the straps were stretched out and sitting flat I used some bubble wrap rolled up to keep everything in place. I find bubble wrapping perfect as it's light in weight, can be easily manipulated into shapes, and being plastic it helps protect the shoe from glue.
I decided to use 4 pieces of ss30 stones in the centre and glued small rows of 3 or 4 ss20 diamontes to create a centre feature.
Once complete I would advise you allow 24 to 72 hours dry time for glue to reach maximum bond strength.
Here is the finished product :-))
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