Happy Feet! A Clown Shoe Restoration Story

In the clowning business it pays to be creative and learn new skills. I was given a large inventory of clown supplies from woman who retired form the business, included were to matching pair of leather clown shoes which were painted over, and not well I might add. Knowing that they were well made shoes; I quickly began my research on how to restore these gems. To my surprise the first shoe repair shop I contacted was very helpful, and stated they could be restored to almost any color I wished. However the price was not so attractive. The second shoe repair shop I visited no longer did re-dying, so they directed me to the line of products enabling me to do the work myself. Much more in my price range, I purchased the leather cleaner and a spray-on colour that works much like spray paint. The process was surprisingly easy and the results were quite good. So here is how to restore and old pair of clown shoes.

Supplies needed
  • Leather Clown Shoes in Need of Restoration
  • Meltonian Nu-Llife Color Preparer
  • Meltonian Nu-life Color Spray in desired color (s)
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Painter's Tape
  • Fine Paint Brush
Supplies for shoe restoration

Clean shoes, tape off areas not to be painted Step 1. Acquire an old pair of leather clown shoes in need of re-dying. In this case, I'll be recoloring these clown shoes brown.

Step 2. Make sure to work in a well-ventilated area; I did most of my work outdoors.

Step 3a. Using Meltonian Nu-Llife Color Preparer, wet a clean cloth with the product and wipe down entire surface of shoe. In my situation, the part of the shoes had been colored with some inferior product that wiped off with the cleaner.
Note: You are not trying to remove the color from the leather but clean and prep the leather to take on a new color.

Step 3b. Allow the shoes to dry before coloring them.

Step 4. If you wish to make the shoe more than one color, use painter’s tape to mask off the areas to be colored separately. I taped over the sole of the shoe to keep that untouched.
Step 5a. Using Meltonian Nu-life Color Spray, follow the directions on the can and spray your shoes to color.

Step 5b. Allow to dry and check for any areas that need touching up. Before moving on to another color, I found it best to allow the shoes dry for several hours.

Step 6. Apply second color. If you wish to do a multi colored shoe, repeat steps 4 thru 5b.
Paint shoe, allow to dry and add second coat or color
Paint details as desired Step 7. Detailing the shoe. I wanted the old dress shoe look for my purposes; therefore I painted the entire shoe brown with the spray color, afterwards painting in the detail band of the shoe by hand. For this I used a fine brush and black leather dye liquid.

Shoes before restoration
Shoes before restoration
Shoes after restoration
Shoes after restoration

  • This project is a bit time consuming but the satisfaction of doing this on your own is worth the time spent. The cost of the product came in well under the cost of having it done by the shoe repair shop.
  • The Meltonian Nu-Life products do state they will work for vinyl and plastic as well. So if you have a pair of the vinyl clown shoes, this may work for them. I would test the cleaner on a small spot first as it may melt the vinyl on your shoe.
  • This method of coloring shoes will not repair damaged leather. If you are unsure of the desired effect don’t try it on your $500, professional shoes. The shoes I used were given to me at no cost.
If you don't have access to an old pair of leather clown shoes, another inexpensive option good for new or part time clowns are the Deluxe Vinyl Clown Shoes and Leatherette Clown Shoes stocked by Clown Antics.
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