Tag Archives: tattooed lady

Bridget O’Hair – Bearded Lady

10 Mar

As promised, I’ve been sewing like a demon this morning to complete the second of my ‘Ten-in-one’ Sideshow Starlets. Making her debut is Bridget O’Hair, bearded lady extraordinaire.

Bridget O'HairBridget was born with a full head of auburn locks, and by her third birthday she was already sporting a pretty impressive moustache. Her beard kicked in at age eighteen and scuppered her plans to become a seamstress as she kept getting it caught in her sewing machine. She tried her hand at welding after seeing the movie Flashdance, but it soon became clear that she was a fire-hazard, so her only option was to join the circus as the sideshow bearded lady where she shares digs with best-friend and partner in crime Elsie.

Elsie and BridgetBearded ladies were a firm fixture in circus sideshows of the Victorian era. Few women are able to grow an impressive enough beard to shock and amaze paying customers so their facial hair was often ‘enhanced’ or even entirely faked, although this was rare.

One of the most well-known and successful bearded ladies was Annie Jones. Born in 1860, she joined her first circus at just nine months old, and continued to exhibit her fully genuine beard until she died at the age of 42.

Annie Jones-Bearded Lady8

I used her fairly plain style of Victorian dress as my inspiration for Bridget’s simple dress which worked quite well as her face is the main focus.

Bridget O'Hair

So now Elsie and Bridget can keep one another company while I work on the next act for my sideshow. Hmmm….who shall I make next?

The Sideshow Starlets

9 Mar

My brain and my sewing machine have both been whirring since I last blogged. I’m so excited about the new doll venture and I’m just bursting with inspiration. Feedback has been great on Elsie Inkwell and she won’t be alone for long.

I’ve become a little obsessed with the realm of circus sideshows, particularly those from days gone by. I dipped my toe into the history of them while researching the tradition of a tattooed lady and I’m steadily learning so much more. They’ve been around since the 1600’s but rose in popularity during Victorian times, showcasing human oddities and biological rarities of every kind, some more genuine than others.

Dales-Bros-Sideshow-1948

Often patrons paid an entry fee to a tent displaying ten acts at a time. These were known as a ‘Ten-in-One’, which led me to the idea of creating a Ten-in-One of my very own. Ten gorgeous little sideshow starlets, unique little bundles of grease paint and hocus-pocus.

The second act is under construction and should be making her debut sometime tomorrow. The rest of the Mistress of Monsters Sideshow will be hot on her heels so stay tuned…

 

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