|Beaded Tennis Shoes|
These beaded tennis shoes were inspired by a pair of beaded tennis shoes in a display of contemporary Native American Art. The base for these beaded tennis shoes are the basic canvas tennis shoe in white, called the Ked's Champions The design is from a book of loom patterns called American Indian Beadwork by W. Ben Hunt & J.F. "Buck" Burshears.
A five-bead design was chosen as that number of beads is a comfortable set to use with lane stitch. To begin, the background color was used to stitch a five bead row around the base of the shoe.
However, this stitch used for this section is not standard lane stitch, since the shoes are canvas, not traditional leather. Instead, the following was done:
Insert the needle from the inside of the shoe to the outside where the canvas meets the sole of the shoe. Pick up 5 beads, pull them up straight and go through the canvas from the outside to the inside at the top of the fifth bead. Then go down and through the canvas from inside to outside at the bottom next to the first stitch. Don't pull too tight or you will buckle the fabric. This method was chosen rather than the traditional method of coming back out at the top, since that would only catch a few threads of the canvas, which, with the tension required to keep the beadwrk for stretching, could have pulled out the canvas threads.
This first row gives a better idea of the workable space on the shoe. Use a pencil to draw a larger version of the arrow motif onto the toe of the shoe, as a guide to work from. Try using a strip of paper cut to the width of 5 seed beads to help with drawing the guide lines the correct distance apart.
After filling in the large arrow, go back and the arrow motif from the back of the shoe working towards the toe, beginning with the lowest of the three rows. Start at the base of the shoe, as that will create straight lines to work. Depending on the cut and size of the shoe, there should be room for between three and four repetitions of the motif from heel to toe. If there is not room to complete the fourth repetition, simply stop at a spot that looks even and fill in the rest with your background color. Fill the remaining empty space above the 3 motif rows with as many rows or partial rows of background color as necessary, then go back and do the other side of the shoe. The sample shoe shows the arrows pointing towards the toe on both sides.
When working on the toe area, the beading can get a bit complicated. Not only is the workable space minimized, the inside of the toe is sometimes coated with rubber in order to reinforce it. A larger, sturdier needle may be required in order to poke holes through the rubber and canvas combination to attach the beadwork.
When the beadwork is completed, the threads inside the shoe will need to be protected from wear. There is a product on the market called "Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellant" by Kiwi (the shoe polish company) that is used to water proof camping tents. It is a 12% silicone based water repellant that coats the tent canvas and seal the pores between the canvas warp and weft threads. In the case of these shoes, it will work to protect the threads but should not be used to coat the entire inside of the shoe, as they will become uncomfortably hot when they are worn if sealed up completely.
Click here for a blank graph you can use to design your own motif.