Shoes, Paint, and Jan Matzeliger

iMagstn.gifAges: All ages
Time: 30 minutes or more
Type of Activity: Art

Materials needed:

  • Shoes that no one will ever wear again
  • Paint
  • Brushes
  • Water
  • Scrap paper
  • Pencils
  • Pictures of master paintings for inspiration (optional)

How many times have you thrown away an old pair of shoes? Canadian artist Theodore Dragonieri paints, collages, and reconstructs old shoes to represent great artists of the 20th century. Its a great idea, one that you and your kinderartists will enjoy. Simply gather shoes that no one will ever wear again, some paint, brushes, water, scrap paper, pencils, and maybe a few pictures of master paintings for inspiration.

Ready, set, go and take the laces (if any) out of the shoe. Sketch out a few creative shoe painting ideas on paper and when you feel comfortable with your image, transfer it onto the shoe. You might want to sketch lightly on the shoe with a pencil first, or go ahead and jump in with the paint. It's a good idea to "prime" the surface with white paint before beginning. If your paint is too runny, add a touch of white glue to make it sticky. Now then, when you are finished and all is dry, put the laces back in and admire your masterpiece.


Many years ago, African-American inventor Jan Earnst Matzeliger, designed a nifty device called the shoe-lasting machine. What's that? Well, it was a machine which revolutionized the shoe industry in the late nineteenth century. Why? Because it could automatically adjust a shoe, lay the leather over the sole, and attach all the pieces together in a little over a minute. Talk about a revolution.

Now you know.

© Andrea Mulder-Slater | KinderArt | http://www.kinderart.com
Illustrations © Geoffrey David Slater

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