Baby shoe bronzing has been around since 1934. Have you heard of it? It fell off the public radar for a while. But guess what? It’s back and it’s trending now. “New moms are bronzing their baby’s shoes again,” says Robert Kaynes, president of the American Bronzing Company, the oldest, largest and most-trusted baby shoe bronzers, which is now…out of business! (Kaynes retired shortly after this interview with BPM.)
FAQ: Do you bronze baby shoes?
A: No! BabyProductsMom does NOT bronze baby shoes! But she knows who does! Read on for more on that.
Bronzing is a way to make your baby’s shoes into a lasting memento. The process uses electroplating–a magical combo of chemistry and electricty–to make copper accumulate on your baby’s actual shoes, preserving them forever.
First, a History Lesson…
Baby shoe bronzing started with Kaynes’s grandmother, Violet Shinbach, a Cleveland kindergarten teacher. As “the mother of baby shoe bronzing,” Violet was the first person to ever make a business out of it, in 1934. “My grandmother found a way to bronze baby shoes and improved on it, then spread the word by knocking on doors of the homes of people who looked like there might be a baby inside, such as a tricycle in the driveway,” Kaynes says. “The business just took off.”
The baby shoe bronzing process has changed very little since then, aside from one thing: The coatings are more environmentally friendly. “We’re good neighbors. There’s no environmental safety issue with bronzing at all,” Kaynes says.
To bronze baby shoes, the shoes aren’t doused in bronze. “If you dipped shoes in hot molten metal, they would melt,” Kaynes says. Instead, they’re sealed in a liquid material and coated with a copper-infused liquid that makes the shoes conductive. The next step? Baby’s shoes are suspended into electroplating tanks with special chemicals that make copper cling. The end result are shoes that are completely encased in metal, forever.
Most any type of baby shoe can be bronzed. Exceptions: fuzzy, absorbent shoes and knitted or crocheted booties. They aren’t good candidates for bronzing. “Because the plating solution is liquid, fuzzy and absorbent shoes never dry out,” Kaynes says. Fluffy baseball gloves and teddy bears are also off limits.
The best time to bronze baby shoes is whenever. “The golden age is babies who are 9 to 15 months old,” Kaynes says, because that’s when they’re outgrowing their first shoes. But Kaynes has bronzed shoes that moms have saved for 10 to 20 years. It’s never too late to get your bronzing on!
Mementos that Literally Last Forever
Bronzing a pair of baby shoes starts at $79.95. It’ll cost you more if you want your bronzed baby’s shoes mounted or displayed with a photo of your baby on a plaque or as bookends.
A recent trend is to have the bronzing professionals drill a little hole in the back of bronzed baby shoes to lace ribbon through so you can make an ornament out of them for your Christmas tree.
Bronze them as is. If your baby wore a hole in her shoe, all the better. If that’s how your baby wore it and that’s the memory you should preserve.
What makes bronzing so special? The difference between bronzing your baby’s first shoes and a photo of your baby on your computer is that the shoes are tangible. Whether you display them on your mantel, a bookcase or a coffee table, they’re out for everyone to see. “Everytime you go into that room, you’ll notice the shoes and boom! You’ll trigger a quick memory of your child as a baby,” Kaynes says.
Where to get your baby’s shoes bronzed
Now that American Bronzing is out of business, your best bet is to contact Bronzery (that’s the bronzing company Robert Kayes recommends) by calling 800-909-7523, firstname.lastname@example.org, or completing the contact form on their website: http://bronzery.com/contact.html. They bronze everything from baby shoes and pacifiers to sneakers and combat boots!