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Sometimes we are handed creative challenges. I have become involved in British Panto through no fault of my own, besides being married to one of the 'actor-chappies' in our productions. The minute they all discovered I can sew and paint, I have been included in the productions of the 'Colchester Mushroom Players'. Yes, I am the props and sets department. Fortunately I don't have to sew much wardrobe. Several of the players have numerous wonderful costumes they are more than happy to lend out. I have also had to sew (and dye) lots of sheets - both for the curtains and for the backdrops.
Panto is huge in the UK. There are big stage shows during the Christmas season in London and all over the country. There are companies who work year-round to supply the demand for elaborate stages and props. Our little group is not elaborate, and we've only had four Pantos under our belts, but we have raised over £2,000 for charity, and our only 'playhouse' is our local pub that can only seat about 45 people at a time We have also decided our Pantos will be in late summer. It makes more sense since it's freakin' cold in December and January in the UK.
They have asked me to come up with all sorts of things - a metallic silver judge's robe, a severed head, spoof products from our 'sponsors', and even an explosion scene! My favourite prop, by far were the glass slippers. This Panto was brilliantly written. We have some very clever writers in the group. Cinderella was never physically in the story. It dealt with the mansion next door who were losing all to the tax man. Lo and behold, one of the brothers finds Cinder's slipper and that's where the fun begins. I wanted the shoes to be modern - maybe even just a bit tarty. Panto is all about bawdiness, current topics, and audience participation - both jeers and cheers. I wanted the audience to GASP when they saw the shoes.
I found a fantastic You Tube video whilst researching Cinderella's glass slippers. It is by Mark Montano. Click HERE to watch - and it starts with loud music, so make sure your sound isn't up high.
Mark's slippers are made for his daughter to wear, so he only treated the outside of the shoe. I decided to make my shoes look like they were completely made of cut glass, inside and out. The good news is that they turned out to be the most awesome stage prop. The bad news is that you cannot wear them, and certainly can't walk in them. Walking would destroy the shoes. I sprayed about 10 layers of clear varnish, but I'm sure the triangles would come loose where the shoes flex, and the soles are also covered in holographic tape. They are just a stage prop - or perhaps room decor. I finally stashed them away so they'd be safe from dust. Make me an offer if you want to buy them. ;o)
These shoes took me about a month to make. There are only so many little triangles you can cut and paste before you go cross-eyed, and there was a lot of drying time involved. I used about 29 feet of 3/4 inch holographic tape, silver glitter, silver fabric trim and nearly an entire can of crystal clear spray fix.
They did indeed make the audience gasp, which made me smile. :o)
Clean the shoes and then sand them. These shoes came from a charity shop. I paid about £5 for them. They are very nice shoes that were made in Brazil. It looks like someone painted the soles, and they were certainly well-worn. Paint the shoes with Gesso after sanding. Gesso leaves you with a nice matt finish with plenty of tooth so your tape will stick. Check hoola-hoop sites to source the holographic tape. I followed Mark's You Tube tutorial, cutting individual triangles and sticking them down one at a time. Don't work the insides of the shoes if you are planning to wear them. You can see that I wrapped the tape around the edges of my shoes. I then brushed the entire inside of the shoe with glue, leaving a small gap. I used sparkly silver fabric trim and glued that along the inside edges to bridge the gap between the glitter and the raw edges of the tape.
COLCHESTER MUSHROOM PLAYERS
Cast and crew during our performance of "Oh $*"! - I't's not Cinderella". Everyone has great fun, we raise money for charity, and the pub sells a lot of beer. I'm in the back row, 4th from the left.
The long photo to your left shows my process in a photo montage. It is sized for Pinterest, if you care to pin it. I have also included some additional progress shots, plus a few 'glamour shots' because I just loved photographing these shoes.
I left a little flash of the fabric trim peeping up so it would show along the outside edge of the shoe. You can see that I filled in the large white gaps with glitter, and decided to put glitter at the bottom of the heels rather than holographic tape. It's a nice touch. I used nearly a full can of Winsor Newton high gloss varnish which completely sealed the triangles and glitter. I took the little straps off the shoes, but left the loops. They were handy for hanging the shoes for spraying and drying. The two rhinestone butterfly pins were the perfect finishing touch. I used wire cutters and removed the backs from the pins, then drilled two holes in the toe of each shoe and wired the pins onto the shoes. The raw edges of the wires are inside the shoes... another reason not to wear them! You could just glue yours if you are going to wear the shoes.
These are NOT doll shoes!
This page was created 14 March, 2016