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Elsie Inkwell – Tattooed Lady

5 Mar

After finishing Carmen the other day, I’ve been dying to make another doll. So today as it’s my day off I locked myself away in the craft room, popped on some old movies, and beavered away all day. I must admit I’m really happy with the result. I’ve eliminated the wobbly neck problem and am really hitting my stride with the new shape and style.

I had toyed with the idea of a tattooed lady some time ago but never actually got around to making one. The idea resurfaced in conversation with Curious Pip over a cup of coffee just before Christmas, and then Mr Monster mentioned it again just the other day so I figured it must be my destiny to create one!

 

I had a good look at some photos of tattooed ladies from a bygone era, and was inspired by this shot of Maud Wagner, a circus performer who married a tattoo artist and became the inked beauty you see here:

Maud Wagner

I love her no-nonsense expression and proudly tilted chin which I took as my starting point.

It took some time to work out how to do the tattoos on such a small-scale but eventually managed to find a combination of acrylic paint and permanent pen which worked pretty well. I did get a bit impatient though and ended up smudging some of the designs by trying to work with them before they were dry but I managed to hide that pretty well and ended up with a piece which I’m very fond of.

So, it’s time to meet Elsie Inkwell.

Elsie InkwellElsie ran away to the circus as a girl after witnessing an incident involving the Easter Bunny and a violent assault left her disillusioned with the world. She worked as a showgirl, riding a white pony and breathing fire, but after her bosom started to head south and the punters stopped coming to her show she was forced to go under the tattooist’s needle and join the sideshow. She shares digs with the bearded lady and helps her in the upkeep of her lustrous mane through a complicated grooming process of setting lotion, beeswax, and a fine-tooth comb.

I respect the history and symbolism of traditional tattoos so wanted to use them respectfully for Elsie’s chest piece and sleeves. I picked a few iconic images such as the gemstone and the swallow and tried to reproduce them as faithfully as possible, albeit on a very small-scale.

Elsie Inkwell

Elsie Inkwell

Elsie Inkwell

Elsie InkwellI’m starting to realise where my niche might be on the art doll scene. In combining my love of vintage and glamour, but combining it with the alternative, bawdy, perhaps slightly seedy side of life. I can’t wait to get working on the next one.

Elsie Inkwell

Elsie Inkwell

 

 

My Dolly Daydream Comes to Fruition

22 Feb

I’ve been promising a change of direction for some time now, and after a few false starts I’m finally ready to unveil my latest work.

For a while I’ve been feeling that even the name ‘Mistress of Monsters’ tends to push me towards a certain type of creation, and that I want to break out of the pigeon-hole I’ve created for myself. I love monsters and cute fluffyness, but I also love vintage fashion, pin-up glamour and all things cheeky and feminine. Besides this, I’ve wanted to work in some of the new skills I’ve developed over my three years of monster-making. It just wasn’t possible to incorporate that into my work given my back catalogue.

I was massively inspired by a pair of character dolls in my parents display cabinet which caught my eye when I was home at Christmas, and from these I’ve managed to develop a new signature shape. It’s going to take some refining and perfecting, but take a look at the first in my new line of creations.

New Doll

New Doll

So I’ve (hopefully) kept it recognisable as my signature style, but gone for a new shape in the ‘big head, small body’ kind of thing. I’ve used needle-felting to create her a little hairdo, and dressed her up in a saucy little outfit and matching jewellery. Once that was done, she was ready for her close-up!

New DollHer neck is a bit floppy so I need to work on strengthening that up, and I’m aware that as a first attempt at something new, there are a few things I could do better next time round, but now that I’ve completed one, I’m bursting with ideas for the next.

You might find over the next little while that the blog might go through a little bit of re-branding, I don’t know if I can keep the name ‘Mistress of Monsters’ as I move forwards with my more doll-like creations, but rest assured you will be the first to know if anything changes!

 

 

 

 

‘The Dress’

18 Oct

It’s the post you’ve all been waiting for. The tale of my attempt to create my own wedding dress.

When we first started planning the wedding I couldn’t imagine myself in a bridal gown. I was never one of these girls who dreams of  her big day or walks around in her mum’s high heels with a pillowcase veil pretending to be a bride. It’s just not me, so I had to do it my way. I relished the idea of turning my wedding dress into a work of art so I could walk down the aisle with pride. Originally I had planned to make it from scratch but I’m soooooo glad that I abandoned that foolish idea before I started!

To get the ball rolling I went to try on a few off-the-peg dresses. Having never worn anything like a wedding dress, it was impossible to know what I wanted. I had a vague idea of a prom style dress but didn’t want to rule anything out. I nearly fell for this gorgeous little number…

…but after flouncing around like a princess for a good half-hour, I had to relinquish the gown as it would not have mixed well with roller skates and bowling. Instead I had a go with the prom style dress I had imagined, and I was sold.

I did learn from dress number one that I love a bit of bling, and armed with that information I set about finding a base at which to throw as much sparkle as I could muster.

I found what I was looking for at Honeypie Boutique, an online wedding dress supplier with a healthy selection of vintage inspired dresses, all with glamorous names like Audrey, Lauren and Greta. I chose Grace, a simple satin bodice with sweetheart neckline atop layer upon layer of tulle skirts. I was a little worried as there were very few reviews I could find on wedding forums but I took a chance, placed my order, and was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the dress for the price. This was it in its virgin state.

Not bad on its own, but a perfect blank canvas for a crafty bride-to-be. As it turns out, a little too blank. The endless possibilities proved a little daunting and I needed some inspiration. A great excuse to recruit Mummy Monster and pop to London for the day. The dress collection at the V&A and the gorgeous fabric shops of Berwick street left us positively drooling with excitement. On the train home I sketched idea after idea, eventually deciding that sometimes less is more and settled on something like this

With my love of buttons and the wealth of pretty buttony goodness available on the internet, I couldn’t resist taking a little pearly queen turn with the project. Mr Monster began to get a little suspicious as packets of buttons kept dropping into our post box. I wanted to give the skirt a bit of sparkle so set about sewing them onto the skirts. What I hadn’t anticipated though was that they would all have to be sewn on individually to prevent the thread showing through the tulle. I wish I had counted how many I used, but I reckon it was a couple of hundred, all tied on and tied off individually by hand. And so the embellishment began…
As with all projects, naturally I got to that point where I stood back and thought “I don’t like it”. I think the enormity of the importance of the project started to get to me as well as a touch of crafters self-doubt. Thanks to the patience and support of a few friends, and of course my mum, I was able to bounce ideas around and eventually feel a bit happier about what I’d done. It all came together one evening when I was playing around with the idea of using some vintage lace around the waist. I needed my hands free to do something else so hung the length of lace around my neck briefly, caught sight of it in the mirror, and BAM! The lace halter-neck was born! Funny how things work out sometimes. All it needed to top it off was a waistband with a cute feature bow, and of course a few more buttons.

By the time I was finished (less than a week before the wedding, last-minute-Larry indeed), I was in love with my dress and felt like a fairy princess when I tried it on for the first time. What’s more, when Mr Monster saw me coming down the aisle, he loved it too. Mission accomplished.

So without further ado, let’s have a look at my dress in detail, starting with a shot from the day which gives you a glimpse of my handmade felt bouquet.

And a few of the dress in all it’s glory.


Happiness is…..

17 Jul

image

Fabric Heaven

9 Jul

I’ve had a little trip to London today with mummsy, and what a lovely but exhausting day it’s been. As it turns out, Berwick Street; one of the side streets tucked away from the bustle of Oxford Street, is a fabric lover’s paradise. Eight shops selling silks, satins, buttons and braids, all in one tiny stretch. With window displays like this one, who could resist?

I’ve come away with a few samples of fabrics which I have in mind for the forthcoming embellishment of ‘The Dress’. We squeezed in a little visit to the V&A for the newly refurbished dress collection and the special Ballgown exhibition which is on at the moment. It was simply stunning, and I came away with sketch after sketch of bits and pieces which inspired me. A fruitful trip, and with our imminent house move in mind, I have come up with a design which will hopefully not take too much time to execute, just in case I find myself without enough hours in the day what with the next three months promising to be rather busy.

Ooooo, one more thing. We made a quick stop at the Serpentine Gallery in the picturesque surroundings of Hyde Park. There was a Yoko Ono exhibition on which I must say on the whole, I didn’t  find particularly inspiring, with the exception of these wishing trees outside the main entrance.

Ms Ono invites visitors to take a tag, and inscribe a wish to tie to the tree. Mother monster and I both made wishes, and I couldn’t resist posting some of my favourites here, starting with the lovely wishes of my mum.

 

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