Has your baby outgrown their first pair of shoes? Do they hold sentimental value that you would like to preserve forever? Let’s take a look at bronzing baby shoes, so you have a keepsake of those early years.
When it comes to bronzing your baby’s shoes, you have a few options. You could hand this task over to a specialist company and pay them to do it for you. Or, you can add a bronzing effect to the shoes yourself.
Here you’ll find some background on the practice, and information for both choices. We’ll look at some of the businesses that bronze baby shoes. If you are more of a DIYer, we’ll also detail how you can do it yourself.
Where Did Bronzing Baby Shoes Originate?
Bronzing mementos and other items dates back millennia. In the 6th century BC things like picture frames, dishes, statues, and other household items were preserved in bronze.
As far as bronze baby shoes are concerned, an American kindergarten teacher spotted an entrepreneurial opportunity during the depression. In 1934, Violet Shinbach found potential clients by looking for homes where the presence of kids was evident. The American Bronzing Company, formerly Bronshoe, was born.
The business took off and remained profitable before closing its doors in 2017. While this may have been the original bronzing company, it was by no means the only one. There are still many companies which can bronze baby shoes for you.
What is Involved in the Process of Bronzing Baby Shoes?
These reminders of your children’s baby years are first prepared by applying lacquer to the shoe’s surface. A conductive metal, usually copper, is then used to coat them. Following this, they are placed in an electroplating bath.
The process is time-consuming, taking several weeks to complete. The finished product is a shoe that is preserved for eternity in shiny bronze.
This method is not easy to do at home. However, there is a way you can bronze baby shoes yourself. We will detail this process for you in a moment, but first, let’s look at some of the bronzing companies.
Companies That Bronze Baby Shoes
Here are some of the companies who can bronze your baby shoes. You can choose to have them mounted on a wooden base, with the option of an attached photo frame. The timeframe for most of these companies to complete your order is about six to eight weeks.
One of the advantages of using a specialist to complete this task for you is that they can electroplate almost any type of material.
This family-run business is based in Escondido, California. Their turn-around time is four to six weeks. An electroplating process is used to preserve the shoes, and they guarantee their workmanship for life.
Working out of Florence, Oregon, Memories in Bronze can get the job done in about six to eight weeks. The shoes can be mounted, with or without a photo frame, or made into bookends.
This South Carolina company has been bronzing products, including baby shoes, since the 1990s. They take about eight to 10 weeks to complete an order and ship within the USA.
This company offers several options for mounting bronzed baby shoes on wood or marble, as bookends or with photo frames. Based in Norwich, New York, they supply finished products in about six weeks. They guarantee their electroplated finished items for life for indoor display.
Houston, Texas is the home of Bronze Shoes and More. Electroplated bronzed baby shoes can be done individually or in pairs. The mounting options include walnut, oak, natural stone or metal.
How to Bronze Baby Shoes at Home
You can achieve a finish similar to electroplating at home. However, it won’t be as durable and has restrictions in terms of the materials you can use it on. For example, crocheted booties or shoes made from absorbent materials might not dry out. Leather or synthetic shoes like sneakers, ballet pumps and hard-soled shoes are good candidates.
What You Need
- Baby shoes.
- Clean rags.
- Denatured alcohol.
- Sharp needle, an awl or another pointed tool.
- Wire or fishing line.
- Rubber cement or superglue.
- Fast-drying spar varnish.
- Bronze metallic powder.
- Small container to mix paint in.
- Camel hair paintbrush.
- Black oil paint.
- Small good quality paintbrush.
- Using a damp rag, thoroughly clean the shoes. Make sure all dirt is removed.
- Take some denatured alcohol like this one from Klean-Strip Green and soak another rag with it.
- Rub the shoes with the alcohol-soaked rag to remove any polish or dirt which might remain.
- Allow the shoes to dry completely.
- Arrange the laces and tongue of the shoes in the final position you want them. (The tongue should be touching the upper side of the shoes).
- Using rubber cement or superglue like this from Gorilla Glue fix the tongue and laces in place.
- Take your awl or sharp needle and make two holes in the sole of the shoe. They need to be large enough for you to thread your wire or fishing line through, to hang the shoes from as you work on them.
- Put your line or wire through the holes and create a loop that the shoes can be hung from to dry.
- Using your small container, mix some of the bronze powder with your fast-drying spar varnish. Both the powder and varnish can be purchased online or at a hardware store. You might find a shoe bronzing kit in your local arts and crafts or hardware store which contains both of these items.
- Stir this mixture, so it has the consistency of paint. Keep stirring as you use it to ensure the mixture doesn’t settle at the bottom of the container.
- Using your camel hair brush, paint the entire outside and any visible parts of the inside of your baby shoes.
- Hang your shoes in a well-ventilated area to dry.
- Once dry, examine for dull spots and recoat as necessary. It might take several coats to achieve the desired color.
- Be sure to dry the shoes between each coat you apply.
- Clean your camel hair brush between coats.
- To give your final product an aged look, add some black oil paint into your existing bronze and varnish mix. Use a fine paintbrush to apply this to the creases.
- Gorilla Glue gel won’t run vertically down your shoes, so it’s a good option.
- If you want your shoes to be heavier, you can mix some plaster of Paris – follow the instructions on the packet. Fill the front part of the shoes (no more than half an inch from the top) with the mixture. Hang them to dry for several days before bronzing.
- Be sure to carefully read directions for both the varnish and powder before mixing. Some might contain chemicals that require special precautions.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much do Bronze Baby Shoes Cost?
The prices for bronzing baby shoes will vary between companies. Generally, prices start at about $65 and go up to over $200. If you’re in a rush, a fast track service will cost even more.
Remember to check out the postage and handling fees for the return of your completed shoes. This may possibly be at an extra charge.
How do You Clean Bronze Baby Shoes?
To keep your bronzed baby shoes clean all you need is a soft cloth. Just give them a quick rub to remove dust and dirt. Do not use any chemical cleaners as this could remove the protective coating.
Remember, the shoes are not solid bronze, they are merely coated. A vigorous cleaning could damage them. If they are really in need of some tender loving care, consult a specialist or have them replated.
Can You Electroplate Baby Shoes to Bronze them at Home?
Yes, you can. There are shoe bronzing kits that you can buy. On the downside, they start at about $165. This might not be cost-effective if you only plan to do one pair of shoes.
Maybe you could get together with friends or family and share the cost.
Time to Create Your Keepsake
Bronzing baby shoes gives you a lasting memento of your babies’ early years. When you create them at home, you add your personal touch to the process. If you don’t feel confident enough to do it yourself, there are many companies out there who will bronze shoes for you.
We hope you enjoyed our guide and found it informative and useful. Please let us know how you get on with creating your bronze keepsake. Don’t forget to share so others can perpetuate their baby memories too.