In every job lot of second hand dolls I source, there are treasures and trash.
At first sight, Daniella fell into the latter category. Her head was far too large for her body and limbs, her legs and minuscule feet were loose and badly made, her oversized clothes crudely glued on, her hair matted and messy and the face looked sullen. What sort of transformation could I exact on her?
We stared balefully at one another for a considerable time and eventually I knew.
I have a friend who does psychic card readings in a little booth. She wears glittering shawls, scarves and jewels in reds and purples with plenty of black eye makeup. She was my inspiration.
Next I remembered those booths you used to get on seaside piers or in dark corners of amusement parks with a life-sized mannequin head and upper body. You put your money in the slot, the mannequin jiggled about a bit and stared into a crystal ball, lights shone eerily and a card displaying your fortune emerged from a space below. That was what Daniella would be!
Off came the clothes and hair. A delicate paint job transformed the face from sulky to inscrutable and exotic. A sleek black wig, silver, purple and scarlet shawls and large hooped earrings were added. The legs and lower torso were glued into a cardboard tube and I set about making her booth.
A domed lantern at the top, concealed at the front with the Fortune Teller sign, holds a Halloween finger light, painted purple to illuminate the booth. Daniella sits in a curtained section with a crystal ball made from a bead, a window and a slot for one penny to be inserted.
The rest of the box is decorated with diminutive tarot cards and other esoteric images, along with an aperture for the fortune card to be released.
There is even a lever at the back which can be moved, allowing the mannequin to shift about slightly as she considers your future.
My little fortune teller will accompany me to various steampunk conventions and sales throughout the spring and summer, until she’s snapped up and taken to read fortunes for some lucky customer.
She’s already packed and ready to attend the Shrewsbury Steampunk Spectacular on March 24th and 25th in St Marys Church.