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Monday, January 29, 2018

How to Make Rhinestoned/Crystal Dance Shoes

Rhinestoned shoes have become increasingly popular among DanceSport competitors over the past couple of years. Admittedly, I was hesitant at first, because while they are undeniably fabulous, sparkly shoes do draw extra attention to your footwork, which leaves added room for critique. However, as rhinestoned, dyed, and otherwise decorated shoes have become more common, I eventually jumped onto the bandwagon. Despite their increasing popularity, however, I have found it fairly difficult to purchase a pair of pre-stoned shoes. If you want something simple (i.e. a few lines of Crystal AB) you can pick up a pair of shoes from almost any company you like. However, if you want heavily stoned shoes, shoes in a specific color (i.e. anything other than plain Crystal or maybe Crystal AB, if you’re lucky), or a cool pattern, you’re probably SOL when it comes to purchasing a pair. The exception to this is Aida, who do offer a custom stoning service; however, when I reached out to them about a pair, I never received a response (apparently they don’t need the business…). Anyway, the point is, if you want sparkly shoes, you’re probably going to need to do it yourself, and this post will walk you through the step-by-step of how to accomplish that.

Here’s what you’ll need:
25-30 Gross of Stones (if you want to cover the entire shoe)
Tinfoil or a Plastic Palette
Small Synthetic Paintbrush (you may want more than one)
A Pen or Eyeliner Pencil
E6000 (optional – if you want to stone your heel protectors or if your shoes aren’t fabric)
Heel Protectors (optional)

Let’s talk about the stones…
You’ll want to use a minimum of two different sizes, but three or more is ideal. I personally recommend using SS16, SS12, and SS8. Also, while Swarovski is generally regarded as the industry standard, I would recommend using a less-expensive (but equally shiny!) alternative like Preciosa or STAR BRIGHT since the shoes won’t have any resale value once you wear them.

Now that you have all of your materials, we can get started (I recommend reading all of the steps before you actually begin):

Step 1:
Choose your design and map it out with our pen or eyeliner. Personally, I wanted to cover the entire shoe (for both pairs pictured), so I skipped this step. You can check out this post for more details on drawing a design pre-stoning.

Step 2:
Pour GemTac onto your tinfoil or plastic palette. NEVER use GemTac out of the nozzle – it comes out too fast and you can’t control it. Instead, use your synthetic paintbrush to paint a small area with a generous, but not excessive, amount of GemTac. As I mentioned in my previous post about stoning, you want to make sure a little bit of glue comes around the edges of each stone. I recommend being a bit more generous with glue when you’re shoes, as you’ll want to ensure a strong hold. The glue dries clear, so don’t worry about it showing on the finished product.

Step 3:
Using your Crystal Katana place your rhinestone onto the shoe and press firmly into place. Repeat this process throughout your entire shoe. KEEP IN MIND, you need to put the heel protectors on BEFORE you start stoning, if you plan to use heel protectors. DO NOT stone your heel protectors using GemTac (it won’t stick!). – we’ll get to that later. Check out the next step for how to stone the straps…

Step 4:
For straps and strappy areas (such as the vamp pictured above), you’ll probably want to use a combination of SS12 and SS16, as those together general cover the strap perfectly. I tend to alternate the sizes, which you can kind of see in the photo below. BEFORE you begin placing the stones onto the straps, use a pen or eyeliner to mark the areas you need to leave stone-free for your buckle and any sliding mechanisms. Don’t worry that these won’t match the rest of the shoe – no one is going to notice and you need these areas to function properly. To measure how much strap to leave, I recommend buckling the shoe on your foot and giving yourself an extra notch or two beyond what you typically need (feet tend to vary a bit due to swelling, so it’d be a shame not to have flexibility in your newly-stoned shoes!). Once you’ve got the areas marked, you can continue stoning as described in Steps 2 and 3.

Step 5 (optional):
I’ve you’ve chosen to use heel protectors (which I did, since I’ll mostly be using my shoes for practice rather than competing), you’ll want to switch from GemTac to E6000, as the GemTac won’t stick to plastic. Using the same paintbrush process, paint the E6000 onto the heel protectors and press the stones into place. I recommend against using E6000 all over the shoe (unless your shoes are leather or patent), because it’s a gooey, stringy mess.

Step 6:
Let dry for at least 48 hours before wearing. I let both of my pairs dry for 3-4 days before wearing, but you’d probably be good to go in 48 hours.

While stoning shoes looks like a big project, it’s actually remarkably easy. If you’re willing to put in an hour or two every night for 3-5 days, you’ll have no problem making your very own pair of rhinestoned dance shoes. I recommend working in small sections (i.e. just the vamp, just the straps, etc.) and letting each section dry overnight before moving on, as you’ll need to eventually hold the shoe in places you’ve already stoned and you don’t want to move the stones if the glue is still wet.

In my red pair pictured throughout the post I used STAR BRIGHT crystals in Light Siam. The other pair uses Preciosa stones in Crystal Honey. 

Good luck with your stoning projects and feel free to email me with any questions! Also, keep an eye out, as Ballroom Bitch may be adding a shoe-stoning service in the future, for those of you who don’t feel crafty enough to take on the project yourself – again, feel free to email me with any inquiries! Tag us on Instagram with your stoned shoes and let us know how your project went!

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