August 17, 2014

DIY Middle Earth Map Shoes (Lord of the Rings) FOR FREE

One of my sisters showed me some amazing shoes on Etsy with the Middle Earth map painted on them. They were REALLY expensive (over $100) and we're both pretty crafty so we figured we could make them for free with things we already had on hand.

Here's what we used ...

  1. plain canvas shoes (we used Keds)
  2. Art pens or thin markers (we used Manga [sketch] pens from Michael's - sizes .05, .3, & .8)
  3. 3 bags of black tea (I make sure we always have some on hand, you can try coffee if you're not a tea drinker but it will probably dry differently and will give you a different look)
  4. an old wash cloth (to stain the shoes with)
I wanted to make sure I wouldn't run out
of room for the text so I did this first. 
If you begin with beige shoes you're good to go but we started with an old white pair so we needed to adjust the color to make it more "map-like". We filled the kettle and as we waited for it to boil, we dusted off our LoTR books, found the maps and discussed which parts of Middle Earth should be on the shoes [we decided Mordor was a must]. When the tea was done brewing, rather than dipping the whole shoes in, we more or less rubbed the tea on with a cloth [this gave us a bit more control and ensured that they did not get too dark or discolored]. We weren't going for perfect so the slight variations in color actually enhanced the look we were hoping to attain. 

Here it is (finished). I drew the mountains around it.  
I began with the larger print and basically incorporated the rest around it (beginning at the toe and working my way back around the sides & heel). I retraced the larger words to ensure that they were nice and dark. I initially thought it would be easier to draw it all out with pencil first but I quickly discovered that I was able to script smaller with the pens than with a pencil (it was also REALLY hard to erase!)

It was pretty difficult to draw on the shoes as is so I stuffed four or five plastic grocery bags into the toe (you could use newspaper or some socks- as long as it's stuffed in tightly). I made sure to add a bit of detail [trees on one shoe & mountains on the other] to the tongue of each shoe as well so that when they are on there wouldn't be an awkward empty gap. Finally, I laced the shoes (oh! we stained the laces to match) using a bar lace since I figured a standard criss-cross lace would cover up too much detail on the nave [yeah- sorry ... that's a cathedral term- not sure what else to call that portion of the shoe].  

What? You want more pictures? Okay ... here you go :)

These next few are of the Left shoe. They look a tad less impressive since this portion of the map is not quite as intricate as the Southern portion of Middle Earth. Oh! I forgot to take pictures of the heels before I gave them to my sis (whoops!) Sorry.  

Let me know if you decide to make some for yourself! I'd love to know how they come out! 


  1. I forgot to include - from start to finish it took between 6 & 7 hours (including the time it took to stain them). A decent portion of that time was me trying to figure out how to convert a 2D map onto a 3D shape and preserve as much as possible in the process. If you begin with a beige pair of shoes & look at mine as a reference you can probably cut out a decent chunk of that time. IDK- everyone works at their own pace.


Please keep it clean, mature, and respectful.