Shoe Prints (or Shoe Rubbings)

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Students will learn about the African American inventor Jan Earnst Matzeliger as they make art using the impressions made by the soles of their shoes.

By Michelle Strawser and Debi London [Michelle is an art educator from Petersburg Elementary in Petersburg, WV and Debi is an elementary art teacher in Pembroke Pines, Florida.]

What You Need:

  • 9×12 white drawing paper
  • crayons
  • scissors
  • large sheet of craft paper
  • oil pastels
  • tempera paint
  • markers
  • sneakers
  • glue
  • sequins or other found objects

What You Do:

Research the African-American inventor, Jan Matzeliger – who invented the shoe-lasting machine. The “shoe-lasting” machine would automatically stitch the leather of the shoe to the sole. This invention was very important because it lowered the cost to both the manufacturer and the customer.

Begin with a short discussion on texture. (what is texture?)

Students will make a texture rubbing of the bottom of their shoe.


Students will paint the bottom of their shoes with paint and make a print.

Then, students can add details (using markers) to the rubbing or print including eyes, arms, legs, teeth, horns, etc.

Further embellishments can be added with glue and found objects (like sequins)


  1. Divide the class into at least two groups.
  2. Students can create an environment for their monsters.
  3. Glue monsters to large piece of craft paper.
  4. Use oil pastels to complete the monsters’ world. (Regular crayons can be substituted)


  • Jan Matzeliger
  • Jan Ernst Matzeliger