I really like it when artwork arises due to external circumstances. It was how last year’s Aesop’s Fables came to life, and is how a potential new series is starting out as well.

Like many art projects, this one started out by playing with some parts, in this case parts from an Underwood typewriter I had dissembled. About the same time I received an invitation on the mail for an unusual art show.

BYOBEARD announcement illustration by Litsa Litsa

A woman who goes by the name Litsa Litsa has been organizing a show called “BYOBEARD,” and as you may guess, the theme is facial hair.  The opening will be June 22 at Pump Project. See more information about the opening at the Urbanskep website. Also click on the thumbnail below for a larger image of the invitation.


BYOBeard Invitation


At that point I got the invitation, I decided I would tack on a beard or mustache to the figure I was working on, and then submit it. I had curly-q pieces of metal that were being used for the mermaid waves (see last blog entry for details) so took one of those and made a handlebar mustache. As my figure had a rather feminine quality to it, I decided that it could be like the Bearded Lady, but in this case the moustachioed lady. The whole thing quickly took a carnival feel, complete with a stage and even lighting:


The housing is an old roll-top CD box. A candlebra light is installed at the top. The first thing I noticed when plugging it in was how bright the light was, so needed to create a shade for it. The picture below shows the shade, as well as a coat of paint and other decorative elements such as  the inside of a book cover for the background, and a floral metal strip from the sides of a tray.


As seen above, the exterior of the box was painted mostly red. I thought this was a bit too monochromatic and would later paint the slats an alternating pattern of gold and red. This offered more visual variety, and fit the theme of a carnival much better. The next step was to work on the moustachioed lady herself, who now was called Matilda.


Matilda is made mostly from the typewriter parts, along with her distinctive metal wire handlebar moustache and jello mold pompadour. As Matilda’s legs are so narrow, she had to be attached to the box by a bolt from her midsection to the back. Everything had to be deconstructed and then reconstructed again, but somehow it all worked.


After she was attached, there were a few more touchups, and then Matilda was complete. The box itself still has the ability to be open or closed, though it sometimes get a little stuck. Here is closed view:


Roll open the stage, and Matilda the Moustachioed Lady appears!


I added a bunch of medicine vials to the floor of the stage to better connect Matilda to the background. These are antibiotic vials that I have had with me for about 20 years, and finally have made use of them.

A clear light was first used to light the box, but then I switched it out for a yellow light which I think fit the mood better. The light seen in these photos doesn’t really capture the mood, but can at least give you an idea of how it looks. A shot taken in dark light resulted in the yellow light dominating the photo, and not showing how it looks at all.

Matilda the Moustachioed Lady is a 15 x 7 x 7 shadow box construction with electric light. The cover slides open and closed (albeit with some difficulty) and the artwork is best hung on a wall. Here are a couple more photos.

Matilda - right


Feel free to contact me with any questions about this piece or go to the Carnival Discardia page in this website to see a complete list of works in this series.

I will be writing about another carnival figure I created in the next couple days, so stay tuned!

The Story of Matilda
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