So my friend and I, lets call her BB, decided that we still needed to do more research in regards to the carnival boots we wanted to get. I was up till the wee hours of Saturday morning looking for prices of rhinestone bands to spruce up the boots and our costume and for ready made boots. I was still up in the air whetehr I should buy a ready made boot to decorate or a local 'carnival' boot either decorated by someone or myself. As I said last week, rhinestones (diamante) go for anywhere from $115 TT to $200 TT locally. I was determined to find them cheaper online. Good news is, it is possible. Bad news is generally you need to place a minimum amount to order. Diamante strands can go as high as $50 US/yard if you are getting Swarovski crystals. The trick is to look for acrylic stones which are plastic,not glass and you generally get down to the $5- $15US/ yard. A good site to check is Jablonex. Their minimum order quanitity is 10-12 yards and depending on what you want the prices are cheaper overall. If you get some friends to pool resources you should come out better. Of course there are many other sites and China is the mother load for such supplies but then you get into the wholesale range which is not practical if you just want to 'touch' up a costume.
So in doing my online research I came across a few boots which I thought were just absolutely ridiculous.This silver number was one of the most ridiculous( other than the thigh high patent leather boots) and goes for about $100 US on Amazon.com. It just makes me want to hold on to it and saw off the bottom. Who in their right mind would go to a party in this? Ok, maybe it was made just for strippers...but still... This next purple boot actually blew me away. It is presently on exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and is the Handsworth Carnival Queen 200 boot. I don't think I had ever seen a Queen Carnival boot this close up and realise how elaborate hey can be. Pics of all sides of the boot can be seen at BM&AG website.
So then it was time to hit town. Now I don't know who tell us it was a good idea to try to go into P.O.S on the same day as PNM's Political rally. W e had actually kinda forgot all that was going on but then we were determined not to let that throw us off our mission. So after begging a park from an office complex where we knew someone we headed out on foot through the developing sea of red. Our first stop was "Imagination" on Henry Street. A little store that someone told me about that sells trimmings, ribbons, buttons etc. I was heading there to check the prices on the diamante again. We met the owner, Eva who was very helpful. She has a triple diamante strip in a plastic setting for about $200TT/yard along with some other single strand options. She happened to enquire what we wanted it for and when we told her about the boots she said we should ot even bother to waste our money on diamante, even if its just to fringe the top. So happens, Eva, is a mas woman herself and also decorates boots. She instantly started pulling all kinda sequin and cord and gave us pointers on what we could do. Of course I had to ask how much it would be if we gave her our boots to do. She has not done it for anyone in a while but she said she would charge about $200 a side for a fully worked up (covered) boot.Notwithstanding she was very helpful with her suggestions and pointers.So we thought we had hit the jackpot. She also suggested we use the guy who is advertised in Harts Mas camp for boot making to get our boots.
Before we left P.O.S we cut through Aboutique Mall and did a bit of window shopping. BB, being the sharpest eye in the west, happened to see some boots for sale in the back of one of the stores. I was extremely suprised to see these black boots. Look familiar? Yeah the SAME boots I was fantasising about last week, only in black not silver. Unfortunately this was the last pair and I could not even try them on for size. AT $299 TT they are a steal!I was glad to get a close up look at it to see the quality of the diamante which was a lot cheaper than I expected. Its still a fabulous pair of shoes even if I can't use them Carnival Tuesday.
Actually getting out of P.O.S proved to be a challenge. We had to make a 30-point turn to get out of our parking space. Then it was off to check Jomo the mas boots man at the Drag Mall on Besson Street. Now BB had never seen 'behind the bridge' in her life and most ppl are suprised that I even know behind there. But seeing that G-Unit shooting up the place we were both a bit wary. So as I reach Jomo door and realise he knock out sleeping, I get intercepted by Lorna his woman. She was glad to assist. She gave us a price of about $160 per pair for the tall boots. Fabric covering would be extra. And of course once we put in an order we could get them in 3 days. BB was concerned about the fit and asked if they were custom made to fit our calves. Lorna seemed hesistant to answer and then told us that the material was not breathable and that we needed the space. Now although that is perfectly reasonable explaination, her hesistance gave me the feeling that it may also have been because that would be more work for her. The samples she had looked very generic as if she just changes the shoe size and uses the same basic pattern. I could see my friend was not too impressed and to be honest I was not convinced the level of workmanship would hold up for even one day. I have bought leather shoes in the drag before and seen a bit more care taken. I of course think its still worth your while to judge for yourself cause the price is right. On our way out we had to dodge the busloads of PNMites who thought parking in the middle of the road on Independance Square was a good idea. Not a moment too soon we got out of P.O.S as the rain broke. And it started pouring. So now the mission was to get to Harts camp to get the number for the other boots guy and check another guy I was referred to. (without getting wet)
Shortly thereafter we found ourselves in trapped in the car outside Harts mas camp. We soon realised that the torrential downpours were not going to stop anytime soon. Thanks to my trusty blackberry we were able to get a number for Harts and call for them to give us the boots man number. It was unfortunate that I did not get to macco the new sections recently released in Harts. A quick call to bootsman (now known as Ande) was right on point as he told us he was just about to leave from his home in Woodbrook but we could come one time. Obviously we still got a bit wet making a run for it. So during our conference in his gallery he explained our options. We were not planning to commit to anything but his knowledge was a bit more sound. When he told us $200 we thought it was a good trade off for a more custom fit than Jomo's boots.We were better sold when he started taking measurements along our instep and not just the outline of our foot. He took a few measurements more than even Natalie at Vamp did. We were also given the options of a wedge heel or fabric covering at a small extra cost. I also tried on one of his samples which was not quite my size but still had a good fit up the calf. So we put in our order and next week we should see how well us taking a chance on this guy will pay off.
Of course I had not completely forgotten about Natalie and I still wanted to keep that option open. I had tried to call her earlier in teh week to ask a few more questions but did not get on to her. Thats part of the reason I wanted a plan B just in case I did not talk to her before she went on her trip. I still passed by to check her which again turned out to be speaking to her from the car outside in the rain. I let her know that I was thinking about decorating the boots myself. She did not seem offended by it and offered encouragement that I was indeed capable.I did not want her to spend too much time on my design and that I would let her know for sure what I decided when she got back on Nov 29. I mentioned that at the end of the day I still had sneakers if I messed up and she insisted that I do no such thing.I also asked her how much it would cost to get just the boots off of her 'supplier' who seems to do a good quality job.. She estimated about $250 and maybe a bit more if I wanted the fabric cover. She strongly reccommended the fabric cover as it make sit easier to fix things to the boot. I did not select the fabric cover with Ande because I did not like the options he had. I figured I could always cover it later if I really wanted to and I may not at all with what I have in mind.
After a very productive day of Carnivalism, we called it a day. We felt like we got the ball rolling and had a better idea of where we stand with the whole boots thing. I am still trying to make up my mind whether I want a simpler accent design or if I really want to bling out the boots in full mas regalia. Unlike some of the other frontlines in Tribe, Silver Mist does not have a whole lot to speak of besides the back pack.I have always been more of a lover of detail rather than excess but then again it is Carnival. When else will I wear a sequined knee high boot? I guess I still have some time to think about it.