Monday, July 2, 2012

WIP: Leprechauns.

As everybody knows,
 leprechauns are shoemakers.
And I'd like to find one, 
because making tiny shoes
 I've found to be a vexing process

( I was going to put a picture 
of a leprechaun here
but when I googled the word,
 my screen filled with so much
 that was both green and cheesy, 
I felt quite bilious).

A wee chap, hammering at tiny shoes
 fit for fairies while singing songs 
and drunk off his skull,
would probably give
 highly satisfactory results.

While I continue to look for a leprechaun,
here is my cheater's method of making
pretty and neat little leather shoes for dolls.

First, you need,
 absolutely need, 
to make one of these.

This is a shoe last.

Make it from fimo, or any other polymer clay.
Do not make it from air dry clay,
 as the last is going to get wet.

Make the last slightly bigger than the doll's foot. 
If you want, you can make a left and a right, 
but I'm making round -toed ballet flats, 
and one last works fine for that.

Then, an old leather glove.
Old. but in reasonable condition.
Yes, yes, I know, the expense!

I repeat, an old leather glove.
Check charity shops,
(thrift stores),
the glove compartment,
(glove box)
anywhere old gloves are deposited.

It helps if you have two gloves, 
then you can match the shoes exactly,
but it's not absolutely necessary.

Check the length of the glove fingers against 
both the doll and the last.
Cut off two fingers.
(Not your fingers.)
Decide which is the sole
and which is the upper. 
Some gloves have a welted seam around the finger 
and that makes for a good sole.

Make a split down the top of the shoe, 
stopping before you reach the tip. 
leaving enough of the tip to form the toe of the shoe.

 Wet the finger, 
(not your finger.)
and massage in a little PVA (white) glue.
Cover the shoe last in clingfilm or a thin plastic bag
and ease it into the leather finger, smoothing as you go.

 At the heel of the shoe,
 ease open the seams of the glove 
and wrap them around the last,
 making a neat bond.

Leave to dry.

Once dry, ease the shoe off the last.


Here are a pair I made for Miss Polly.

Even if you don't want to chop up leather gloves,
I recommend making a shoe last, 
at least for shoe sizes you know you'll repeat.

It's either that, 
or bait your leprechaun-traps with Guinness and wait...

To follow this story forwards,
read here.


  1. Excellent!

    I can't wait to try this method :)

    1. If you do, let me know how it goes! So far I've been lucky finding gloves. Hubby mistreats his shockingly, and I buy him a new pair almost every Christmas. Then I get his old pair (so it's almost a present for me)

  2. Hi Rhissanna,
    Very cool shoes. Well, if you can't get the leprechauns to do it, then do it yourself.

    Thanks for visiting old Rattus and Tea Rat.
    Big tea party coming.

    Three cheers, a hoot, and a rrrrr.

    1. Happy to go anywhere, where there's tea! Thank you for your visit.

  3. I have had mixed results making lasts. On my cloth dolls, I plan to make the shoe over the foot. I'll probably sew the shoe to the foot. Right now, I don't want to use animal products because I strive to be vegan. But I ate chicken and shrimp pad Thai last night, so I'm not a very good vegan.

    Your shoes look awesome, but the picture of the last confused me. It looks so much bigger than your own foot. I know it's some strange camera angle thing going on, but I can't figure it out!

    1. The picture with the last does look weird, doesn't it? The last is on the wooden rail of the deck and I'm standing on the deck by the rail. But because the wood is the same colour, it looks like one surface. I didn't see the toes until I was just about to load the image, so I thought I'd better explain what they are. I should have included a penny for scale for the last.

      I've seen some good methods of making a shoe over the foot, using old t-shirts and stiffening them with glue.If I can find the link, I'll send it to you. And yes, I feel a little abashed that my dolls aren't really vegan-friendly.

      Chicken and shrimp Pad Thai sound lovely. In fact, I'm just about to suggest that to hubby for dinner. Thank you!

  4. I feel silly continuing to say this but I am in awe. So, since I only got a glimpse of your foot, are you part leprechaun because these shoes are ADORABLE.

    1. *Giggles* Well, I'm short and I do like a nice glass of Guinness...

      Thank you so much for your very sweet comment. I do feel a little embarrassed about these shoes because they are so easy to make, it feel like a kind of cheat. If I was a proper, grown up doll maker, maybe I ought to be stitching leather and doing it the hard way? Well, I've done it that way, and I think I'll stick to this!

      Now, Amy-while wearing heels, maybe I ought to find a way to make these-with heels?

  5. Wow, this is really a neat idea! I wonder if you could do that for tiny hats too? Like a hat mould/mold that hatters use. Makes me almost want to make a large one with an aluminum foil armature or crumpled up newspaper inside taped to hold it together in the shape of a hat form and like you said do not use paper clay but the polymer clay.
    Very intriguing. (Otherwise they are so expensive if you find the wooden vintage hat forms). You've got me on a roll here and vintage shoe forms are also expensive. But your idea for tiny shoes is fabulous!

    1. I'm glad you like them. I'm a little abashed at how easy they are, after the years of struggling with unwieldy leather and messy glue.

      That sounds like a nice idea. I know where you can find a (free) plastic hat shape. Look under a stack of cheap straw summer hats in a big store, usually the bottom one has a ring of stout cardboard, or a plastic dome. I have one I'm hoping to make into a hat stand.

      I'm going to try a felt hat for my 30's electric lamp doll. If that's a success (or even, if it's a disaster) results will be posted here.

  6. OMW Rhissanna! You are one talented lady! Your super shoes are really awesome! I'm a shoe addict myself, so I should know when I see a good pair, lol! Really love these, they're brilliant!! Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog, Ira x

    1. Thank you so much! I do like making these, I must admit. I even line them with suede, to keep dolls' feet comfy..

  7. Hi Rhissanna
    Thank yo so much for visiting and leaving such a kind note about Darby.
    This is an excellent idea... I real time saver in the end..Darling shoes!

    1. My pleasure, Penny, Darby is such a sweetheart. And yes, I have to say, this is easier than just about any other method I've tried.

  8. Well you are just as good as the cobbler himself! Those are just charming. But I think I might as well try that Leprechaun trap, sounds like fun either way! LOL
    Happy 4th of July!

    1. Thank you, Patti! Happy 4th July, and let me know if you catch anything in your Leprechaun trap!

  9. You're brilliant.

    But where does one find live-traps for leprechauns? I've only seen the beheading type...


Thank you all for the wonderful and supportive things you say! I'm thrilled to read them and I reply to each one.