A Stevenage shoe artist and designer has taken a step towards the big time after winning a footwear designer of the year award.

Emily Jupp, who works under the name Milly J, was crowned the queen of footwear on Sunday evening at a glitzy award ceremony for The Footwear Industry Awards 2015 in Birmingham.

The opera and classically trained singer turned shoe designer – although she calls herself a shoe artist – only started making footwear in 2011.

Her weird and wonderful designs can be made out of absolutely anything, and in the past have featured dried oranges, clay and feathers.

Emily, who lives in Jessop Road, said: “It was a really great experience especially as I was not expecting it at all.

“My shoes are known for being quite bonkers and it is really nice that my hard work has been recognised.”

The 32-year-old, who sang on BBC1 talent show The Voice last year, started making shoes after the death of her brother Dan in 2011 and becoming disillusioned with the music industry.

“I have always loved shoes and been a bit of an Imelda,” she said.

“My mum said when I was little I used to go through friends’ cupboards to find the perfect pair of shoes, she was so embarrassed.

“But I could never find the perfect pair, so I started to make my own.”

She started making sculptures of shoes rather than footwear, but after friends encouraged her to put the designs online she started thinking about making “wearable art”.

One design in particular caught the eye of glamour model and body builder Jodie Marsh who wore a teapot inspired pair on ITV’s This Morning in June 2012.

Each pair, and so far she has made 200, is bespoke and prices starts at around £160 for an adult pair and £60 for childrens’ shoes.

“I make them out of literally anything,” she said. “I try and match them to the person’s personality, it sounds really pretentious, but I try and find out what makes them tick, what inspires them...

“Nothing is off limits, I have used oranges, fake snow and even scorpions in the past.”