Up-Cycled Summer Sandals

Getting Creative During COVID-19

What more can be said about COVID-19? I, for one, am so damn tired of it. I long for the days of dining out, making small-talk with someone at the grocery store, and joking with my co-workers in person and not over Zoom.

When I wear a mask, I feel invisible. No one can see me smile. It is hard to communicate with just your eyes.

A Typical Day in the Neighborhood

I am stuck alone quarantining in the suburbs of Philadelphia. (Well, not really alone: I live with two cats that sleep all day and two aloof parakeets). The days can be tough – I feel lonely, sorry for myself, and miss the contact of other humans. I can’t remember the last time I had a hug. Some days, it is hard to get motivated.

Yesterday, was one of those days.

Anne Cecil, RoxanneLava Shoes

However, at my lowest moment, an email appeared in my Drexel University work email account. It was from Anne Cecil, the shoemaker behind RoxanneLava handmade mules. (Anne was one of the first female entrepreneurs that I profiled for this blog – read here – and she is on the Faculty at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design and is a Drexel alum).

The email’s subject line said, “Are You Up for the Challenge?”

I read her email: “Welcome to your Up-cycled Summer Sandal Challenge. Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to create a pair of sandals (mules/slides only of course) from up-cycled materials found in your home.”

Included were instructions detailing how to make a pair of handmade shoes and a pattern.

As I said, I was having a hard time getting motivated but I knew this would help get me out of my head for at least the next few hours. And I am extremely competitive. Challenge accepted!

First, I pulled together the tools I would need: scissors, a heavy duty utility knife, masking tape, clips, glue and a needle and thread. Next, I went on a scavenger hunt around my apartment to look for materials that I could use to make a shoe.

For the shoe’s outsole, I needed a hard but flexible material; for the insole, a firm, but soft to the touch, and flexible material; and for the decorative band that goes over your foot, I had to find an attractive fabric (or fabrics).

This is what I found.

I chose a lime green cutting board for the out sole. I chose it for three reasons: its color was bright and cheerful, it was both flexible and rigid, and best of all, it has a non-slip textured surface on its backside. I cut out two pairs of pieces – one pair for the out sole and another for the heel. I used a piece of thick cardboard for the heel as well.

For the insole, I chose the outside cardboard cover from a pad of lined yellow paper. It was relatively hard and it had a brushed surface that would feel nice against the sole of my foot. (Although, once I finished the shoe, I decided to cover that cardboard insole with a scrap of “black pleather” left over from another craft project to hide some glue stains.)

For the decorative band, I found two pieces of a pink, black and yellow material that was leftover from a hemmed pair of pants, (I knew I was saving it for a good reason!), some artist canvas, vintage lucite beads and a bright, yellow, cord from a “Happy Birthday” gift bag.

Here are pictures of the process:

And Voila!

Finished Sandals with Matching Top Shop Pants and Covid-19 Chipped Toe Nails

I did this project entirely on my own, but it would be super-fun to do this challenge with a group of friends – for a happy hour social or a Sunday maker’s afternoon – with Anne as your guide. Anne also offers a unique activity for a bride-to-be. Invite Anne to be a guest instructor at an intimate party with your bridesmaids. Anne will bring all the materials and teach you and your guests how to make a fold-able, fashionable, mule to throw in your purse for when your feet can’t stand another second in a pair of heels. During the pandemic, these workshops make a memorable Zoom call. (For more info, you can email Anne at roxannelavarox@gmail.com).

My verdict on this project? Easy, creative, fun, and most importantly, it got me through another day of self-isolating! And look how bright and cheerful they are! I can’t help smiling when I look at them (and now to make a matching mask!)

I don’t worry that I don’t have extra space to get creative. I’ve given up caring that my apartment is a mess!

Anne Cecil and RoxanneLava are this week’s Proving Ground Pop Up Featured Entrepreneur on Instagram. Follow The Proving Ground at www.instagram.com/provinggroundpopup/ to learn more about RoxanneLava and to view live videos, interviews and more!

Are you interested in being a part of the Upcycled Summer Sandal Challenge? The deadline for submissions is June 26th with winners announced on July 1st. There will be awards for the top 3 designs in these categories: 1) Best material innovation, 2) Most sale-able, and 3) Best design. To submit your entry, follow @provinggroundpopup on Instagram, post your finished sandal on your Instagram page and tag it: #provinggroundpopup. Instructions below. Questions? Feel free to reach out to Anne at roxannelavarox@gmail.com



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