Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Freak Show Peep Show...

After drooling over a full season of inspiration brought to me by the American Horror Story: FreakShow television series, I set my sights on creating a collection of art dolls with a circus sideshow theme! So I thought I'd take you behind the scenes — or should I say under the big top — for a little sneak peek.

Being the first of my art doll endeavors with a single theme, I carefully considered which characters I would create, based on the unique oddities and attractions from the show.

Of course Dell Toledo, The Stupendous Strongman was a big influence. In fact, I knew months ago when I came across furry leopard fabric, that I wanted to create a doll with bulging muscles, a neanderthal brow, and a handlebar moustache, lifting a ton of weight (okay, maybe about half a ton!)

That handlebar moustache... well, it ended up being as big as he is! But I do love to exaggerate features on my dolls, so when it made me laugh, I knew it was perfect!

Dell's former wife Ethel — The Bearded Lady — was a gentle soul and touched my heart. I wanted to dress her in a 1920's style dress, like from her early stage days where she was loved and adored. I tried several different items to dress her up, and felt that this old silk and lace camisole of mine fit the bill. Yes, I save everything!

Of course to go with the theme of the time, no bearded lady dressed in 1920's garb, is complete without a blingy headband!

Then there was Twisty the Clown. A very sick and twisted individual who's specialty was murder! This doll was probably the most difficult sculpture I've created to date. But working from a photograph of a real character kinda made it a little easier than my other dolls, if that makes sense. I put my twist on it (pun intended) and love the way he came out.

Pretty freaking scary! I do love making cute things, but I love making creepy things just as much. This certainly appealed to that part of my personality.

My conjoined twin girls Faith and Hope, were definitely inspired by Bette and Dot from American Horror Story. I dressed them up using a gorgeous pair of lace shorts my mom bought me last year, but alas... were too small. Yes, I save everything! My stash of vintage jewelry, buttons, baubles, beads and ribbon help make every doll a unique and individual piece of art, and lots of fun to accessorize.

My love of all things side show — and the fact that the Wheel of Death made an appearance in the television series — is why I had to create a Knife-Thrower's Assistant! Where does one acquire a doll-sized wheel? In the clock components section of A.C. Moore, of course!

I dressed my Assistant in a goth style lace and tulle dress, complete with a tiny tutu. The main part of the dress is from an upcycled blouse I bought at a sample sale years ago but never wore because I'm not really very appealing in black, LOL. Did I mention that I save everything?

And last but not least. The Ringmaster...

Inspired by Elsa Mars, mistress of the freaks and — unbeknownst to many of the others — was one of them herself. [Spoiler Alert!] Having had her legs cut off for a German snuff film, Elsa was given a pair of wooden legs by one of her "suitors". For my version, the Ringmaster sits atop a vintage bird cage, with a pair of antique wooden bobbins dangling below her torso. At a commanding 2 feet tall in total, her Marie Antoinette style skirt barely hides the history of her past.

Now, by this time you may be wondering why I haven't shown you each of my latest art dolls in all their fabulously freakish glory. Well, here at the FreakShow, you've got to buy a ticket to see the monsters. Pssst! Stick around, and I'll let you know where to get one!

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michelle renee bernard