HELP CELEBRATE ARTISTS BY WEARING THE #BIGTEE OF THE DAY! (DAY 4)

There’s $10,000 on the line in The Next Big Tee challenge. To celebrate the artists who have created some of the most popular Threadless designs recently, we’ll be highlighting one best-selling tee a day and throwin’ some fun facts at ya!

Today, we’re featuring “Mister Mittens’ Big Adventure" by Joe Van Wetering by way of a great new Mo Knows!

MO KNOWS MAKIN’: A MISTER MITTENS DIY SHOE TUTORIAL

I’m Mo, and I know makin’. Spending my workdays reading through customer emails and Facebook messages, I’d like to think I have a pretty keen sense of what some of our customers would love to see on our site, and like most sane human beings our customers seem to have a relatively healthy obsession with shoes. Since I can’t make shoes magically become part of our product line (though I wish that I could) I thought I would share my own personal mantra: If I cannot haz, I can probably make, and that’s how I came up with these shoes:

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We’ve all seen those awesome DIY galaxy dye tutorials sweeping Pinterest, and I decided to try my own galaxy dye with a little Threadless-y spin on these sweet Mr. Mittens kicks I whipped up in a weekend.

What You’ll Need:

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  • Cheap-as-possible black shoes
  • Painter’s tape
  • A spray bottle
  • Bleach
  • Blue, Mint, Yellow, and Red Paint
  • A few sponges
  • An old toothbrush (optional)
  • A detail paintbrush
  • A sheet of adhesive tape (Duct brand makes these, available at any craft store)
  • An exacto knife
  • Tulle, mesh, or cheesecloth

Optional for finishing: 

  • A black sharpie 
  • Modge Podge or some other sealant, and a broad brush

Remove the laces from your cheap-as-possible black shoes. I got my tennies for $15 at Payless, but you might be able to score a cheaper find at a Thrift Store. If you’ve already got a pair of black sneaks in dire need of a makeover- even better.

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Cover the edges of each sole in painter’s tape to prevent the bleach and paint from mucking up your soles.

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Now that you’ve saved their soles you can start having some fun

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Using a spray bottle as your mixing vessel, combine 1 part water and 2 parts bleach. Make sure the spray cap is on tight and shake to ensure the solution mixes thoroughly.

Set your bottle to the spray setting and spritz a few splotches on your shoes. The bleach should start lightening immediately to reveal what will become random star clusters for Mr. Mittens’ deep space setting.

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As you wait for your bleach to dry, create your Mr. Mittens stencil.

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If you have mad free-hand sketch skills, go ahead and draw the 1 ½ to 2 inch likeness of our furry friend on the back of the adhesive tape sheet. Make sure the likeness is in mirror image since you’ll be flipping over the stencil to stick on your shoes. I have pretty terrible sketching abilities, so I printed out 2 copies of Mr. Mittens to trace his head and spectacles respectively- and I didn’t feel bad about it at all. Leave enough room for the floating feline head and his specs to cut a 1-3 inch box around them. This box will help protect your shoes from any unwelcome paint splatter invading deep space.

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Using the exacto knife, cut along the lines until the head and glasses separate completely from the adhesive tape sheet. With the remaining sheet, cut two small circles to serve as Mr. Mittens’ eyes. When you’re all traced and trimmed, you should have something that looks like this:

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Unless you’re some sort of wizard with an exacto knife, by the time you finish your stencils the bleach should be dry. If not, wait a little bit longer till the bleach no longer glimmers.

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Once the bleach dries, put a tiny dab of blue paint on your sponge. If you apply too much paint, you won’t be able to thin out the pain enough to showcase the bleached star-scape beneath- so be very conservative with your paint dabbage. Using a circular motion with your sponge, apply the blue paint on top of the bleached star clusters spreading and thinning out the paint until you can see bleachy splotches underneath.

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If you’d like a few more stars speckled throughout your space shoes, apply the blue paint onto your old toothbrush (that has hopefully been very thoroughly cleaned) and flick your thumb over the bristles to give birth to new stars.

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Wait for your paint to dry. I watched an episode of Project Runway, but you could probably also find something a little bit more productive to do with your time.

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After your paint has dried, remove your Mr. Mittens head sticker stencil from the backing and adhere to your shoe. Also apply the eyes and the glasses cutout (not the stencil) to keep those areas from getting super painty. We also made a last minute decision to cut out a small semi circle to serve as Mr. Mittens’ lil’ cat nose and mouth. Make sure to smooth the edges of the tape down securely, or paint will bleed through and destroy everything you’ve worked so hard for up until this point. Everything. not even just the shoes…

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Place the tulle, mesh, or cheesecloth over the stencil. This texture will give the gradient, semi-translucent and ethereal quality to Mr. Mittens’ majestic face.

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Apply paint over the meshy cloth on top of the stencil more heavily to the right side of Mr. Mittens’ head and gradually lighten the amount of paint as you work toward the right. This technique will give Mr. Mittens’ face that otherworldly, semi-transparent glow

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Remove the tulle, mesh, or cheesecloth immediately, but wait for the turquoise paint to dry before removing the other stencils. After it dries, remove all of your stencils from your shoes

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If you’re confident in your free-hand abilities, go ahead and paint the yellow frames on him with a detail brush. I’m not as confident, so thank goodness I made a stencil for it ahead of time. Place the spectacle stencil over the eyes and smooth down the edges accordingly.

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Using a sponge or a paintbrush (we used a sponge, but a paintbrush might actually work a little easier), paint over the stencil in yellow paint.

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That shouldn’t take long to dry, but once it does remove all of the adhesive stencils from your shoes.

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To make your lasers even-steven, place two pieces of painters tape across the shoe parallel to each other and about the width of the eye. Using your paintbrush and red paint, paint along the line sourcing from the eye to the base of the shoe. Repeat with the other eye.

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Your kicks are almost complete! If you notice any spots where the paint spilled over the stencil, you can smooth out the lines with a sharpie. Finish them off once the red paint dries by coating them in a thin layer of Modge Podge with your broad brush. Modge Podge acts as a sealant that protects your shoes from the elements (like rain and stuff). That’s probably a pretty smart move, but if you prefer to live dangerously like me you can skip this step and start strutting your space cat kicks immediately.

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Hopefully these’ll satiate your footwear fetish until we can get some up on the site (eh hem…) since I’m Mo and I Knows folks want fun feet.

Tomorrow’s #bigtee is “Funkalicious" by Christopher Golebiowski, so wear ‘em if you got ‘em!