Tucked into a cheery artist studio in Ballard, nine female artists are making a lot of feet very happy. Hourglass Footwear was launched a mere six months ago, and their intricately hand painted shoes are already being purchased around the world.
"We did a Led Zeppelin theme shoe. We did a beautiful Audrey Hepburn tribute. We had a bride getting married in Disneyland so she wanted shoes that were glass slippers. But since we obviously paint on leather, she wanted her toes to be painted through them. Make it look like she was wearing glass slippers. We also did an airstream trailer theme shoe. So we get all kinds of wacky requests."
Lisa Ström and Kira Bundlie co-founded Hourglass Footwear. After Kira did a radio interview with a Minnesota radio station, the Xcel Energy Center called and requested they design a pair of shoes as a gift for Lady Gaga.
"Obviously we were a little overwhelmed and excited and jumped up and down and then called this emergency meeting of our artists for the next morning," Kira said. "Debbie Foss, who is one of our artists, came up with this sort of queen bee theme. They look like honeycombs. Swarms of bees all over them so it's this sort of weird mixture of sexy but also a little creepy, which kind of fits her aesthetic.
"They look like honey could squish out and the bees could fly off," Lisa adds. "They're very, very realistic. Almost hyper realistic."
They had a week and a half to create the shoes, and they were unveiled Thursday at an open house at the Hourglass Studio, before being sent off to Minnesota.
Outside of Gaga's custom honeycombs, Hourglass offers a wide variety of shoes.
"We have platforms, stilettos, mid-heels, which are a three inch heel, a comfort line which is a nice flat with an elastic band and then ballet flats. If they want sandals or wedges, we just did our first pair of men's shoes, or if they want sizes we don't have, they can bring them in or send them to us and we can paint on that," Lisa explains.
One of the most popular shoes of the moment were designed to look like a bottle of Sriracha chili sauce. They're called Rock Out.
"They look like the Sriracha bottle," Kira says. "She has a little bit of a green heel to match the green lid of the Sriracha bottle. Maybe two weeks ago we were featured on the Sriracha fan page on Facebook and we got thousands of hits in one day."
Even the operating manager from Huy Fong Foods, the makers of Sriracha, put in an order for a pair of shoes.
Hourglass's artists range from a scientific illustrator to portrait artists, women who work with Indian henna to old Hollywood style illustrations and Lisa studied Japanese art. So the shoes have very different styles.
"These are a bridal shoe. They have a silver filigree design with some glitter and kind of a pretty pearlized, white background. Then right next to them, we have shoes we call The Requiem. They have a white background and they have blood splatters on them. These have been popular with the zombie weddings and that sort of thing."
Click here to see all of Hourglass Footwear's creations.