Bath Upchuck 2011

Bath Upchuck

Bath Upchuck

The Bath Upchuck is an annual one day circus convention organised by Bath University’s juggling club Gravity Vomit and is almost upon us, next Saturday 25th February 2017. It is held in the university’s large sports hall, which provides a great space to practise. Naturally the high ceiling provides jugglers with perfect opportunity to perfect their siteswaps with larger numbers of clubs, balls or rings.  There is also plenty of room for hoopers, poi and staff spinners too.

The event is split into a day session that is reserved for general practise, workshops and socialising with others who have a common interest.  And of course, like any good circus meet up the day ends with the much loved games, such as gladiators and endurance. Whereas the evening is a real treat with the nighttime  performances.  Top performers in their field showcase their acts.  This must be a daunting prospect for the performers because they are showing their skills to people who understand the techniques and theory behind them.

Our First Upchuck

So this was us in 2011, enjoying our first Bath Upchuck experience, with our local circus group The Boscombe Spinners.

Circus Conventions

I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who has not experienced a circus convention to give it a go. Vaudeville Hippie has enjoyed being a part of the circus community for several years now and many of our friends are through our shared love of practising object manipulation.

Vaudeville Hippie at Southern Lights Circus Festival 2010

Southern Lights Festival 2010

We have been to several gatherings of circus skills enthusiasts and  I must say that they are the friendliest events I have ever experienced.  Southern Lights Festival, that ran from 2007-2011  in Dorset, was an excellent example of this.  This is because conventions and festivals provide a space for experienced professionals and newcomers to practise side by and share ideas about the props and tricks they feel most passionate about. Or simply to pick up tips and advice about the technical issues they are struggling with. The sharing continues through the many workshops that are on offer at these events and nothing beats the thrill and satisfaction of learning a new trick.

One Big Family

It only takes a couple of visits to these circus events before you realise it is made up of a close knit community people. After a while faces become familiar from one festival to the next convention. We made friends with the people we camped next to at our first Play Festival and the following year camped next to them again and continued the fun where we left off from the previous year.

Vaudeville Hippie at Play Circus Festival

Play Festival 2013

The evening shows and end games really help to consolidate this family feel with friendly banter using well known circus heckles, but also admiration and support for the performances.

So this year why not get yourself a set of juggling balls, poi or hula hoop and join in the fun!


Bath Upchuck 2017

Play Festival 2017

British Juggling Convention 2017

European Juggling Convention 2017

VaudevilleHippie Etsy Shop



A Cloth Doll For Steve: Zombie Poi Spinner

So for Steve’s birthday doll I wanted to created something a bit more masculine.  After a bit of thought I decided to base his doll on some design ideas that he developed for Vaudeville Hippie in the early days based on zombie jugglers.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Steve and I enjoy practising circus skills, which includes the art of poi spinning.  Now am I not sure, but I think we were heavily into The Walking Dead at the time, which sparked the inspiration for the zombie juggler range.




To create the artwork, Steve whole heartedly threw himself into this project, posing with a range of circus props in different zombie stances and facial expressions.

zombie juggler design exposed on a silk screen

zombie juggler hoodie screen print

These were then hand drawn and then adapted in Illustrator and Photoshop with filters so that they could be prepared for a silk screen print for T-Shirt printing.




Poi Zombie (Drawn)

I tried to copy the stance and facial expression of Steve’s zombie poi spinner photo and drawing as faithfully as I could, with some artistic license with the hair.


I wanted to create a sense of the hair decomposing and therefore have used a combination of cut up plastic from beer can holders and small off cuts of black netting fabric.

Now, although this is based on Steve’s work, it has allowed me to start personalising the style of the dolls and moving away from the templates I have been using so far.


The body parts are a combination of patterns from both Jan Horrox and Patti Medaris Culea to get the shape of the arms that most reflected the photo I had chosen to work from, one bent and one straight, this meant resizing the length of one of the arms to keep them a uniform length.  I also extended the length of the legs and added wire inside to enable to doll to stand in his zombie pose.  To create a male torso, I widen the waist.


IMG_6226 IMG_6225

The details have been drawn on by hand with micron pens and water colour pencils and a little bit of stitching in red for the zombie scars.


The poi are simple and small woollen pom-poms.

I am planning to make more zombie juggler fabric dolls.  To see my other OOAK cloth doll creations and read about my doll making challenge click the appropriate links!

What’s in a name? The meaning of Vaudeville to me

Why ‘Vaudeville Hippie’?

When I was deciding upon a company name I wanted to choose something that naturally reflected our passion and inspiration from all things circusy. Not only is the ability to practise circus skills important to us as a hobby, but visually, the circus theme has limitless potential from the shapes, colours and patterns it provides. I have become particularly drawn to circus stripes and the colour combination of red, black and white.

Circus is also the starting point for product range and our choice to develop our own fabric poi.  As poi spinners we realised that the majority of poi on the market had very similar designs and wanted to explore other possibilities.IMG_2167

I had never heard of vaudeville until we went to an event in Bournemouth titled ‘Vaudeville Circus and Masquerade Ball’. The night had a range of acts ranging from circus, to burlesque to belly dance and we were lucky enough to see English pin-up and burlesque dancer Anna Fur Laxis and her axe throwing act.



IMG_1380Since then, it has been a visual and creative reference point. I have particularly enjoyed exploring and collecting images using Pinterest and incorporating these ideas into my drawing and craft work. Whilst exploring images for my Pinterest boards I came across these gorgeous costumes by London based Prangsta Costumiers. I simply adore these costumes and feel that they totally sum up everything I love about the circus and cabaret style.

History of Vaudeville

Vaudeville is a style of entertainment first popularised in America in the early twentieth century. Acts would vary widely from belly dance, circus, burlesque, freak (bearded woman etc), novelty and comedy as characterised by Charlie Chaplin, all wrapped up with a strong vintage flavour.

Vaudeville Illustration

There are some great vaudeville finds on Etsy. These are a few of my favourites that capture the genre through either colour, style, costuming and Victorian aesthetic.  Each image take you directly back to the original pages on Etsy so you can explore these delights further.

flapper treasury

gypsy hats

lovechild dark fusion

Sketch Book Journaling

I really enjoy looking at and searching for the many diverse examples of sketch book journal pages that are currently out there on the world wide web!  I love the freedom and self expression contained in each page, as if it had its own mini story to tell.  I admire the way each artist uses a combination of the basic elements of art including colour, shape, pattern and texture that have been carefully (and sometimes accidentally) arranged and created by layering and reworking to create a rich and dynamic surface to work upon.  These pieces have then been lovingly developed with additional imagery that has either been hand drawn or found combined with text, which has been handwritten or pre-printed fonts.

Sketch book journal page by Journal Girl

I particularly like the work of Samantha Kira Harding aka Journal Girl who I discovered on YouTube a couple of years ago.  What I admire the most about Samie is her openness about living with her chronic illness and how art is helping her to get through it.  Not only does Samie create beautifully vibrant journal pages, she has uploaded over one hundred detailed video tutorials that provide useful information about suppliers, techniques and processes.  I picked up a useful tip recently when I watched this video below and discovered that to achieve the depth of shadow around key images, Samie uses a black watercolour pencil.  This seems so obvious now, but it just had not occurred to me to do that.  So I am very much looking forward to using my newly gained knowledge.

Up until about four years ago I was not even really aware of the concept of journaling until I came across some books by accident through Amazon’s ‘frequently bought together’ option where I was presented with Cory Moorgat’s ‘Art of Personal Imgery’ and Lisa Sonora Beam‘s ‘The Creative Entrepreneur’.  I was intrigued and captivated by this new and freer way of working.  (Although admittedly it has taken me all this time to actually start to explore this process for myself).

The Creative Entrepreneur Lisa Sonora Beam
The Art of Personal Imagery Cory Moorgat

I mostly use Pinterest to discover new examples of journal art and it seems to be quite a popular topic for a pin board.  My favourite pin is this one below.  I love the use of stitched line, simplified dragon fly, magenta circles and textured surface on the left hand side.

Sketchbook journal example

My Own Work

These are still very much work in progress.  I have yet to achieve the level of depth and detail. I would like to develop my own visual style a little more but I am happy that I have a starting point to work with. I have been inspired by Steampunk, Masquerade Ball, Circus and Alice Wonderland (Queen of Hearts and the White Rabbit).

Sketch book journal pages Vaudeville Hippie


The Journey of Discovery: From Hoop Dance to Rockabilly

This week I have been working our blog, tweaking the pages, links and about page. I was trying to summarise what it is that truly inspires us here at Vaudeville Hippie.

This got me thinking about how I have discovered different styles and genres by pursuing random tangents. I realised this is a little bit like the six degrees of separation (from a creative inspiration perspective) and thought it was worth while exploring in my next post.

Hoop Dance

Ok, so I have previously mentioned that the discovery of hoop dance became a massive turning point in my life. This image dates back to 2008 when I first discovered the joy and addiction of hula hooping.  It is also the first hoop I ever made.

From Hoop Dance to Rockabilly (The Journey of a Tangent!)

My first ever hoop

Hooping has led me to discover so many other sub genres and this post aims to track the meandering tangents I have followed over the last five years, which has now culminated into the creation of Vaudeville Hippie.

Hoop Dance Aesthetic

Like many newbie hoopers I became obsessed with all things hoop related from learning tricks, making hoops, visiting forums and the hoop dance style that seemed to be emerging. At the time I would not have known how to describe this style but now I would say that the hoopers fused styles from cyberpunk, tribal fusion belly dance and hippie faerie festival wear, amongst other influences. This is probably most notable in ‘The Good Vibe Hoop Tribe’s‘ video, which is the first hoop dance video I fell in love with, despite the low quality I still enjoy watching this from time to time.

I kept watching these hoop videos on YouTube, which left me desperately trying to find information about this style and in particular a style of trousers that many of the hoopers were wearing.


Melodia style tribal fusion belly dance pants

After a lot of searching on google images, and even eBay using terms like ‘hoop trousers’ or ‘split flared trousers’ I discovered that this style of trouser originated from tribal fusion belly dance and they are called Melodia Pants.  This style is also worn for yoga.

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance


Belly dance performance at Play Festival 2013 wearing a more cabaret style costume

Up until this point I was only aware of Cabaret Belly Dance so the discovery of Tribal Fusion was really exciting. I became interested with this style of belly dance, not just for it’s aesthetic but also for new ways of moving with the hoop. There are differences in dance moves and technique too.  When compared with each other, visually they are very different.  Tribal Fusion and Gothic Belly Dance  are much darker in colour using heavier fabrics and embellishment.  Whilst reading up on the Tribal Fusion style the phrases ‘earthy’ and ‘grounded’ kept cropping up and it took me a while to fully understand what that actually meant.



Illustration inspired by the East Coast Tribal DVD cover

During my quest for comprehensive belly dance instructional DVD I came across the World Dance New York series who specialise in all genres of belly dance, as well as other forms of dance. Here I discovered Sera Solstice and her East Coast Tribal Belly Dance DVD.

Rachel Brice Portrait

Drawn Portrait of Rachel Brice

I must admit that for a time I became a little bit obsessed with belly dance and felt compelled to dig a little further, which led me to the discovery of Rachel Brice.  I love Rachel’s style, she has collected and combined a range of accessories from around the world, which has allowed her to achieve her unique tribal fusion costume style.  I later discovered that Rachel also dresses and dances in a vaudeville style.

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Screen Printed Tote Bag

Vaudeville Hippie Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Screen Printed Tote Bag

Pin Up and Rockabilly

I loved the diverse selection that World Dance New York  had to offer, and as a subscriber to their YouTube channel I was instantly intrigued by the release of their ‘How to be a Pin Up Model’ DVD.

Although I was aware of the ‘vintage look’ it had never occurred to me to explore the style visually.  I love the elegance, but also the bright red hair and lips.  Whilst delving into the world of pin up I stumbled across rockabilly.


A modern take on Pin Up/Rockabilly shoes

The styles are similar in terms of hair, make-up and choice of 1950s fashion, however pin up is more glamourous ad more focused on modelling whereas rockabilly grew out of a style of music and has a bit more attitude with the girls having tattoos and piercings.

So there you have it, my creative journey from hoop dance to rockabilly.

What interesting tangents have you recently followed?


Treasure Chest Finds

So we have been sailing around the Etsy seas a little more this past week and have discovered many new delights.

There are a range of authentic cultural artefacts or culturally inspired wonders to be discovered as displayed in this treasury by  Tracey from SewHeartFeltShop.  We were very happy to have our Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Screen Printed Tote Bag included in this collection of folklore, fairytales, sumptuous examples of ethnic textiles and rich earth tone colours.

cultural natural

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Screen Printed Tote Bag

This next collection titled ‘Good Morning‘ by Ebru from Aynikki certainly invokes a sense of sunshine and warmth, surely welcoming in the spring after this miserable winter. To us, this treasury has an overall feel good factor to it, which certainly fits in with the vibe of our Rockabilly Day of the Dead Canvas Tote Bag that was selected to be apart of it.

good morning


We will continue to sail the high seas of the online crafting community and share our finds next week!  Please feel free to share you favourite Etsy finds in the comments below and include the link to your chosen item.