Eleanor Pritchard has a glittery lifestyle. The Lakeview mom uses her creativity to come up with ways to decorate with glitter. This time of year, her talents come in handy. She uses her glitter prowess to create one of the most sought after prizes of the Mardi Gras parade season, the Krewe of Muses shoe.
The dining room table of Pritchard's home is filled with glistening shoes of all shapes and sizes, ready to be thrown to a lucky spectator on Feb. 23 along the parade route of the Muses parade in New Orleans. It will be a prize that Prichard has made with joy and the receiver will hopefully cherish for years.
Even though Pritchard said, "I think of myself as a citizen of glitter," that was not always the case.
In 2012, she was living in Memphis when a New Orleans friend Lynn Koplitz, asked for her help to decorate shoes for her first ride in Muses. Koplitz and her daughter Shannon Koplitz needed 60 shoes and had no idea where to start.
Prichard, also known as Nori, enlisted the help of her mother Sarah Tuohy Rosevally, a longtime costume designer. The four women put their heads together to create decorated shoes. "I don't think I would have had any shoes without them. (Rosevally) was so brave and unafraid to get glitter all over her dining room," Lynn Koplitz said.
It took some trial and error to create those first shoes because, "There wasn't a lot of information on how to glitter," Prichard said. They tried many shapes and sizes of shoes before they figured out which ones were the easiest to decorate and produced the best end result.
Struck by the glitter bug, Prichard continued to research and experiment in order to perfect her designs. "After year two I had a handle on it and started keeping notes online, originally just for me," she said. Her blog, "Confessions of a Glitter Addict", attracted a following for those who had questions or wanted to exchange ideas.
Some of her designs are popular and have been copied by many such as her king cake shoe. "I'm very happy for people to be inspired by it," Prichard said. She also posts on Instagram, Pinterest and other platforms.
Prichard offers glitter clinics for the cost of materials and has perfected her transfer technique to create glitter appliques for the shoes.
To create her shoes, Prichard selects gently used shoes that she gets from thrift stores or friends and then applies two layers of glitter using an adhesive. A finishing coat of hairspray is applied and then she adds embellishments such as rhinestones, sequins, feathers, sculptured polymer figures and more. Each parade shoe must include the Muses name and the year.
Due to her scientific training she likes to make prototypes of her more detailed shoes before she settles on the final design. Each shoe costs between $6 and $15 to make and takes at least an hour of time, but she has spent as many as 20 hours creating an elaborate shoe.
Besides traditional LSU, Saints and Mardi Gras themes, some of her most popular creations have featured local businesses such as Popeyes Fried Chicken, Hubig's Pie, the Roman Candy Wagon, District Donuts and Lucky Dogs.
Occasionally, Pritchard will make a special order shoe for a friend or business as a favor. "We never sell Muses shoes because they are so special and that would diminish the magic," she said. Last year she crafted a special shoe for the honorary Muse, recording artist Solange Knowles.
When Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts co-artistic and managing director Gary Rucker was looking for a unique fundraising opportunity for the Kenner theater company, he called his longtime friend Pritchard. With the blessing of the Muses organization, Pritchard along with Jamie Richardson, Angela Williams and Cari Rhoton created shoes to illustrate each of the 2017-18 season shows.
"They were so detailed and so beautiful. They really did their homework about the shows," Rucker said.
One set of shoes was raffled at the preview party and the second set will be raffled during the season.
Prichard's love of glitter has taken her outside the relm of shoes to create purses for the Krewe of Nyx, sunglasses for the Krewe of Iris, goblets for the Krewe of Cleopatra and mermaid bottles for the Sirens of New Orleans. Her most personal creation was the red ruby glitter slippers she wore for her wedding to her husband, Nat Twarog, who is from Kansas.
"He took me, glitter slippers and all," Prichard said.
This will be Prichard's second ride in Muses and her first since moving back to New Orleans. She has her 30 shoes wrapped and ready to be passed to begging spectators. It is a labor of love for the glitter addict who delights in sharing her art with others. "I like giving them away."