Sometimes I think I'll never get the hang of being a Dance Mum.
As one of seven children, the privilege of extra curricular activities escaped me.
As a Mum of three boys before being blessed with a daughter, I know more about Baseball and Basketball and Bowling than I do about Ballet. You'd think after 13 years of Dance though, I'd have got the hang of things but nooooo.....not the case.
The Diva had a Ballet exam yesterday. A big deal one now that she's 15 years old. No more could she get away with a pretty smile and a tutu. This was serious stuff. If you failed one section, you failed the whole thing kind of serious.
So....she's done these before and I just knew that new or newish ballet shoes are part of the game. I was onto it. I was proud of how on-to-it I was. We'd bought new Pointe and Demi-Pointe shoes four weeks ago. Plenty of time. Thing is though, that the jolly things come without ribbons attached. We Dance Mums get to do this for our darlings...can you hear the gnashing of teeth here?
Her Pointe shoes truly were had it, so I sewed the ribbons on those straight away. Her Demi-Pointe shoes were not so bad. As in not hanging off her feet in tatters yet. Good enough, so I left the task of stitching ribbons on those for another day. And another. And another. And so on, until finally, the day before the exams, I finally got the darned things stitched.
So she wears them that night to her final rehearsal before exam, and blow-me-down if she can't do a Pirouette in them because they're not softened up. Pirouettes are a mega part of the now-less-than-24-hours-away exam. My fault apparently. Like didn't I KNOW that she needed to wear them in, and soften the toe-thingy up?? Um. No. I didn't know. Could someone (SHE) not have mentioned this before now???
We slept. I tossed and turned and dreamt of daughters failing ballet exams due to crappy shoe-stitching Mothers. Sigh.
I got up early, determined to find a solution. Having ascertained that the old shoes would have to do, I set about trying to find a way to clean them. All methods required things I didn't have, or needed time for them to dry. They're satin remember. And satin marks when wet too. Eventually I realised that Google was just toying with me as the beast it is, and set my mind to find another way.
Here's what they looked like at the start. Not at all like the pretty ones in the picture at the top of this post, right? Definitely in the tattered and embarrassing category.
Light bulb moment. Magic Eraser. Have you heard of them? Block of spongy white stuff used to remove marks from walls and other grungy things. Magic Eraser it is. Patiently and carefully mopping at the really dirty areas and trying not to wet them too much, I managed to remove most of the surface dirt. I also used a tiny pair of sharp scissors to trim all the loose threads, and a small artists paintbrush and some craft glue to stick down the bits of satin that were flapping around looking untidy.
I'd seen a method of cleaning using Baby Powder, but this wasn't recommended as it makes the shoes slippery. Baby Powder...slippery....yes of course.
What's like Baby Powder, but isn't....
Cornflour...Cornstarch...whatever you call it where you are. Used for thickening sauces.
But it's white. What to do?
Loose face powder, mixed with the cornflour, that's what.
Teaspoon of cornflour, bit of face powder, check the colour match. Done.
I then used an artists brush to liberally dust the shoes with the powder mixture, tickling the powder into the satin well. I let them sit a while...don't know why...it seemed the right thing to do.
Then I carefully and gently dusted the excess powder off.
The final touch was to use a pure silk scarf to 'polish' them up a bit. Again, it just seemed a logical thing to do, and it worked.
They're not perfect, but at least they look respectable and compared with the filthy tragedy that is used Demi-Pointes Shoes at the top of this post, they're not all bad, and now, it looked like someone cared enough to tidy them up.
She was happy to wear her old-faithfuls in preference to the naughty-newbies and came out of her exam beaming widely. So I think the examiner excused her lack of shiny new demi pointe shoes and was too dazzled by her dancing to care anyway.
Look, this is a last minute emergency exercise. They clearly do not look like 'new'. But if, like us, you've found yourself in a panic, you can do worse.
If I had to do this again, I'd probably add some white cake decorating pearl dust (which I had and didn't think to use), not much, just a pinch, to the powder mix to give the satin a bit of gleam. Alas that thought didn't occur to me until later and it probably didn't matter. I'm off to try that now though!
From one Dance Mum to another....I hope this helps you out of a tight spot. We love our dancing...oh yes we do ;-)