an aerosol spray sealant, maybe? it will go on evenly and preserve the look of the stain texture (but it would feel different to the touch of course), and wouldn't leave brushstrokes the way a brush on sealant would?
I have a pair of lace up "prairie boots" that I bought for my Pippi Longstocking costume... I found them at Goodwill and they are made of cheap synthetic materials. My dad stained them darker with shoe polish or dye or something. But I used them again when I was in the musical Urinetown, in the chorus of poor people. I was doing a lot of dancing and jumping around in them, and of course they fell apart! The soles came mostly detached from the shoe and were flapping around with loud noises. I tried to stick them on with everything I could find in the theatre shop! Wood glue, hot glue, even chewing gum (it was just in a pinch in the middle of rehearsal). The costumer took them home and used shoe glue on them to fix them, which worked for a while but failed once I started dancing in them again. Finally one of the boys in the cast told me to get Gorilla glue! I tried it, making sure to weigh down the inside of the shoe with rocks and weights so that the foamy glue wouldn't expand too much. I was surprised how well it gripped the slick, non-porous synthetic materials. The soles held on tight for the rest of my 4 week run, and they are still sitting pretty with my Pippi costume waiting to be worn again. I don't know if this helps, or if it's the idea thing for shoe construction, but I just wanted to let you know that for the cheap, plasticy shoes, that when all else fails to stick to them, Gorilla glue might get the job done.
no idea what they're made of, but it's possible you could get them wet and stretch them out a bit? they even make shoe stretcher products, but you could just pull at the them with your own two hands and see if it helps. if they hurt so bad, it's worth a try!
So I realize that they use rubber cement because of it's flexibility. But say you're doing a pair of pumps that won't be bending around much as you walk... You won't need the flexibility.
I didn't check out the store you posted, but I do have an experience to share that might help. I created a large metal sculpture last year out of scrap metal and ducttape and masking tape, and I covered the WHOLE thing in silver glitter, so thickly that you couldn't see the tape at all underneath. I tried many, many adhesives, and it was very difficult to get the glitter to stick on thickly, especially at weird angles and difficult to reach spots. I think elmer's glue is fine for applying the glitter down, but for the top, I (and you) will want something that can be applied very thickly to hold in every glitter piece, but that dries crystal clear. I finally found that polyurethane was the best for this! It's plasticy, so it still has a little give, too. I used Verithane brand and got the crystal clear and glossy kind. You can find it near the paint section of any hardware store! I think it looks really great over the glitter, it doesn't cloud or obscure it or discolor it all, just lets it sparkle right through. It is defintiely my favorite material now, for any project or gloss or topcoat! Haha. You can get a tiny little can of it to try it out, because it comes in different sizes, before you commit to a larger amount (though I guess you wouldn't need a ton for shoes!)
I found an old Archie comic in a box of free books I got off craigslist, and knew I had to decoupage w/ it too! It was from about 1997, which was when I liked to read them. I would get a few for the plane ride or car drive whenever we took a trip somewhere! I'm not putting mine on shoes, though. I'm decorating boxes and plastic containers and tin cans from food, as a homemade system to organize my art supplies into. You're right, it does take so much longer than I expected, and I'm not even doing cute cut-outs the way you are, I'm just doing squares of the pages.
This is so insightful! when my "bad" shoes like flats or flat boots with little support make my feet tired, I find nothing makes them feel better than walking barefoot (or on thick rubber flipflops)! People who are very opposed to shoes and who like to be barefoot everywhere they go are always in search of very soft, flat (usually homemade) shoes that replicate the position their foot is in when barefoot and the sensations their feet feel when walking barefoot. Often you get in trouble for actually being barefoot in certain places, but there's a whole movement of people who want to be barefoot all the time, and they look for shoes that allow this to be nearly the case without getting in trouble. I find with my flat, unsupportive shoes, the real problem is the way they confine my toes and top of my foot (my toes and ball of foot like to spread out wide when barefoot, but my middle and heel is narrow. Gaynor Minden calls this "Egyptian" shaped feet), and also the stiffness of the shoe which doesn't allow my feet to bend a lot as I walk. I think that a flat shoe (like a ballet flat or flat boot) with a slightly softer, and more BENDY sole would solve this (you see, flip flops are comfortable because you foot is not attached the back and can bend at the ball of your foot fully as you walk). This is also why my dance shoes are infinitely more comfortable and better for my feet (well, aside from my pointe shoes). They might make a good base for crafting my own shoes.
Love it. I myself have been saving tins and boxes, and have started decoupaging them too! I'm using maps and archie comic books so far. I think they're great for holding art supplies; much cuter than the plastic drawers I've been using. It's a good idea to hold cords and chargers in them... my cords get spread out all over, and i can never find them!