The Magic Lady…
She’s a beauty, made around 1920 or earlier, from an older Victorian mauve and coral silk gown. Trimmed with gold metal lace and completely hand stitched. I found her at the wonderful Blue Parrot vintage shop today.
She was made to be a nightdress case or peg-bag, and her “dress” is open at the back to form a bag. The silk is backed in cotton chintz and is slightly padded or quilted, giving it a lovely weight. I immediately saw her potential as a hand puppet!
Her face is exquisite, moulded from starched and glued muslin and chintz, there is nothing supporting her finely shaped nose and mouth, and it’s a miracle she hasn’t been crushed over time! Her features are hand-painted, and she wears a very lovely flapper cloche head-dress that reminds me of Maria from Metropolis.
The mauve fabric is so interesting, as it was the Victorians who discovered the dye recipie for achieving purple, after finding a remedy for malaria in quinine. It’s one of those scientific discoveries with a weird by-product. Due to its royal and somber associations, mauve became a traditional mourning colour to wear after a respectable time of wearing exclusively black clothing. Queen Victoria’s mourning for Prince Albert informed fashion in many strange and wonderful ways.
This Magic Lady is going to help me design some new puppets and inspire construction methods, I can just feel she’s had an interesting life to tell me about!!