Paper + glue = shoes

Paper + glue = shoes

URBANA — At 6-foot-4, University of Illinois sophomore Charlie Prescott felt a bit thrown off as he modeled a pair of high heels Wednesday.

"I definitely have sympathy for girls who wear high heels," the industrial design major from Oak Park said.

He found it fun, though. The shoes he and his male classmates showed off in the Link Gallery on campus weren't made of leather but instead of white paper or paperboard and Elmer's glue.

The students, working in male-female pairs, had to design and make the shoes at least 1 inch high in front and 2 1/2 inches in the heel. And the paper shoes had to be durable.

The idea of the assignment in the sophomore industrial design studio was to design and make something wearable, in this case shoes, from simple, everyday materials, said industrial design Professor Deana McDonagh, who with associate Professor Kevin Reeder co-teaches the courses.

The young men were charged with modeling the shoes for a lesson in kinesiology and empathy — and to take them out of their comfort zone, McDonagh said.

Before the show, the men practiced walking in high heeled shoes. During the runway show before a crowd of about 70, they strutted in their paper shoes up and down a "runway" and then jumped up and down to test their strength.

Some of the shoes did not hold up then. Others had come apart during the walk.

"Where did they break the most?" Reeder asked at the end.

"The heels," students replied.

He disagreed: "I think the straps over the feet," he said.

Some of the shoes had straps; some did not. Style-wise, the 21 pairs of paper-and-glue shoes ran the gamut from gladiator to Mexican huarache to Japanese slip-on to thong to more futuristic looking footwear.

Before designing them, the students did research, particularly into more unusual shoes like the red, heel-less wedgies McDonagh wore for the occasion.

Then, in the design process, the students learned about teamwork, structure and "failing fast," she said.

"They can't allow failure to hold them back because creativity is all about exploration," she said. "If they fail and recover quickly they'll be good designers."

Most will likely become good designers because the assignment wasn't exactly easy.

"It was a challenge to make something to support your whole weight, using computer paper and glue," Prescott said.

Sophomore Karly Anderson of Grayslake said the females also had the challenge of convincing their male partners of their superior knowledge of high heels, while accepting ideas from the young men.

However, McDonagh and Reeder were supportive throughout, Anderson said.

"They made what could be a stressful project more fun."

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billbtri5 wrote on October 30, 2014 at 5:10 pm

leather boots are still the style for manly footwear....M. Haggard