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:
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 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.
I’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.