I made these goblins for our new Company Civilised Mess. We specialise in ‘theatre for hire’ and produce characters with a strong visual element. When we first started thinking about creating Civilised Mess, we discussed that we wanted to use makeup and prosthetics as an integral part of creating realistic characters you wouldn’t normally be able to see outside of the movies. These characters would not only look real but our actors would embody the physicality of whatever character or creature they got transformed in to and interact with guests in character throughout an event.

I started to sculpt the goblins on life casts (plaster copies) of the actors. Each Goblin is moulded to the actors face so that it can move realistically when the actor makes expressions under the prosthetic. When the Goblins are sculpted they then get moulded and eventually a silicone copy of the sculpture is made which can be painted and applied to the actors face. The whole process from start to finish takes approximately a month per goblin.

If you are interested in booking our goblins for your event please visit www.civilisedmess.co.uk/
IMG_02981-300x225Goblins for Civilised Mess

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Horror at Kendal Calling

At Kendal Calling this year Happy Slap Boutique took on the theme of Horror movies to create characters and performances which ran throughout the festival. Normally the makeup artists don’t get much of a chance to create their own makeups, wigs and costumes but this year me and Elvis Schmoulianoff decided we wanted to make something special. Here are our porcelain dolls. I got hold of lots of dolls, we smashed them up and built them in to wigs. I made some very small silicone prosthetics to use on our faces and Elvis made the costumes.Porcelain dolls

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Civilised Mess Mermaids I was asked to make some mermaids for our new Company Civilised Mess here is the outcome. Photography is by the wonderful Scott M Salt.

This project was made in just over a week so I had to figure out quick ways to make everything. Stephen Murphy helped me make the suckers on the arms and also applying the makeups on the day. The headdress’ were sculpted in wet clay on a life cast. Here’s one of the sculpts,

Mermaid Octopus sculpt

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Body Painting at Boom Town Fair 2012

Body Painting by Kylie Elvis Smoulianoff and Grace McComisky and Artwork by Joe Furlonger

On the Sunday of Boom Town Fair we came together to create a body painting/artwork using inspiration from the festival fusing live art with performance. The main part of the festival is made up of a run down old town full of small and large venues such as ‘The Body Shop’ where you go for body enhancements, a jungle rave which you enter through an old caravan, the ‘Macabre Theatre’, and a whole manner of bizarre, creative and inspiring works of art and performance. The festival itself is well known as being a ‘Green’ festival and they make a huge effort to ensure that there is the least negative impact on the environment which juxtaposes with the visual impact created in the decor of the town. We wanted to show the pollution and filth of towns and festivals juxtaposed with the beautiful country setting it’s all in all in one picture and also looked at the human body and how all of this takes it’s toll.

Artwork was created by the very talented Joe Furlonger and body painting was created by Kylie Elvis Smoulianoff and myself. All working at Happy Slap Boutique.

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Body Painting with Happy Slap Boutique at Rumpus, London

Happy Slap Boutique is a company I have been developing over the past 4 years. We use events and festivals as a performance space to create unique performances, live art, circus and music. Our overall goal is to create a party full of surprises and exciting visual performances fusing together the talents of all our creative circus performers, dancers, make-up artists, DJs and other performers and artists.

This was our first time creating our own space at Rumpus, a night held at Islington Metal Works. The night was fantastic, a war against hybrid creatures (the free tail party) vs. humans. We had Aurora Starr (Surefire Circus Theatre) performing ariel hoop and eating fire, Mr Balls (Surefire Circus Theatre) juggling along with Cameron Stradeski. Me (Grace McComisky), Stephen Murphy and Lauren Cahill body painted the beautiful girls (Olivia Brown and Lizzie West) for the first few hours of the night and then the lizard hybrids performed an enchanting slow dance to the tunes of our resident DJ Ocelus.

More photos can be found on our Face book page, Happy Slap Boutique


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City Read

A couple of weeks ago I did make-up for a photo-shoot for City Read. This year they are promoting Oliver Twist and here are two characters for the posters, The Artful Dodger and Nancy. The posters are all about influencing people to get into libraries and start reading their books. For more information visit, http://www.cityreadlondon.org.uk/

Photography was by Jason Bell an amazing photographer, www.jasonbellphoto.com/

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Little Bad Riding Hood

'Little Bad Riding Hood' design by Grace McComisky

I have been designing some new characters for my company, Happy Slap Boutique. We are taking the general theme of ‘fairy-tales’ for our festival events this year. We will be producing all sorts of characters but I have taken the slightly twisted angle when designing them to make them a bit more interesting and mischievous! This year I will be ‘Little Bad Riding Hood’. ‘Little Bad Riding Hood’ is actually a vampire who kills wolves and werewolves in the forest. She wears the ‘Big Bad Wolf’ as a trophy on hood of her cloak and carries a basket of weapons with her wherever she goes to hunt the wolves.

Look out for more designs for this project, I’ll be putting them on my blog as well as updating with ‘work in progress’ photos.

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Countess Gertrude

Countess Gertrude, concept designed by Grace McComisky from Mervyn Peake's trilogy Gormenghast.

‘Gormenghast’ by Mervyn Peake is a text I’ve been working with for a while and a project that I think I will be working on for the rest of my life, ‘Gormenghast’ by Mervyn Peake. This is a text my dad introduced to me and I find the characters the most interesting out of any book I’ve ever read.

On my degree I worked on the characters ‘Fuchsia Groan’ and ‘Barquentine’, both of which I plan to revisit but currently my deepest interest is in ‘Countess Gertrude’. In ‘Gormenghast’ all the characters are very isolated and lonely. ‘Gertrude’ finds her companionship in nature but through the years has supressed her emotions so much she has become a fully selfish individual. She neglects all the things around her including the birds and cats she choses for her friends. These are ‘chained’ to her and she rarely remembers to cater for their own needs, i.e. never feeds them, drags them round with her killing them without realising.

To me ‘Gormenghast’ is a fantasy world where magic does exist. Strange things occur without explanation and the living can sometimes seem like the undead. ‘Gertrude’ keeps hold of the birds that she thinks she loves and they get fused to her hair. after years of being there they are merely skin and bones and seem to be controlled by her own emotions. When she is comforted they form a nest with her hair and when she is angry and enraged they fly manically around her head twisting and tangling up her long hair. Sometimes in her sleep she turns over and a bird doesn’t fly away in time. The bird gets fused into her deep, ‘saggy’ flesh and goes rancid in her flesh. She also wears her cats as a cloak on her back. Some of the cats manage to feed on birds that fall from her hair every now and again but mostly they are rotting and dying into her cloak.

Bird Puppet to fly in 'Countess Gertrude's' hair made by Grace McComisky.

So I’ve started making this complex character. Here is one of the bird puppets that will appear in her hair. It was made using sculpey light so is very light weight which will help when it lays in the wig. I always aim to make my things as light as possible so that they are more comfortable for the actor to wear.

When this whole character is complete I plan to film a performance of the piece which will then be posted up online for you to watch!

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Fuchsia Groan

Fuchsia Groan, the young daughter of Lord Sepulchrave the 76th Earl of Gormenghast was my favorite character in Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ trilogy. So for my Final Major Project at University I chose to design and create her character the way I imagine her in the books. This beautiful character is also meant to look quite ‘odd’ so I wanted her features to look very uneven, almost twisted. She is wearing four silicone prosthetic pieces, a nose, two mouth pieces and a giant eye/cheek piece. She is also wearing a wig with moving pieces. Fuchsia sits in her secret rooms drawing all over the walls but I wanted this to be incorporated into her hair. In one part of the text her hair is described as ‘ink’ so not only did I want her hair to resemble ink but I also wanted this ink to drip and smudge onto her skin.

This is definitely a character I want to work on more in the future as I nearly killed myself trying to complete the wig, prosthetics, designs and everything else in four weeks. A note to all students in their final year- don’t do this to yourself as you could end up with eye strain, migraines, allergic reactions and repetitive strain injury which just makes your deadline even more stressful! A big thanks to Jess Henwick, a beautiful, patient and lovely model, Andreea Veronica Virna, a fantastic photographer, Rosa Hibbert-Keene for making the costume and my mum for all the support and ink splattering all over the costume!

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A Bit ‘Bitey’!

Vampire Teeth- a bit 'bitey'

I haven’t posted for a LONG time as I’ve been traveling in South America for 3 months and also working on a few films which I can’t tell you anything about. So…

After working on Tim Burtons new film ‘Dark Shadows’ I was inspired to get making some vampire teeth in preparation for Halloween. These (above) modeled on my own teeth are the result of my first pair of dentures. I’ll be doing a proper photo shoot with them soon but this is just to give you an idea of what I came up with. I was really lucky as the fantastic prosthetic make-up artist, Chris Gallaher was working on the film and has worked making teeth (eyes, prosthetics… and everything else) for 20 years or something and makes the most amazing teeth (probably) in the business. So I got a few hints and tips from him (while spying on him work) which is definitely the key to these teeth actually looking like teeth. If you don’t know, make-up artists in the UK don’t really make dentures professionally due to the rather strict Health and Safety regulations and the risk of ripping someone else’s teeth out. So it’s not the most common skill to have, you could say it might have been a waste of time. However, I think it was great to learn as much and as many skills as you can and most importantly it was A LOT of fun making myself some fangs!

As a test run I wore my teeth to the dentist to see if they looked convincing. To my pleasure and my dentists shock he was impressed, horray! I have also been working on a pair of werewolf teeth, although you wont see them for a while as I still need to do the werewolf make up to go along with it.

Now I’m back in the country I’ll be working really hard on new projects so hopefully will have lots to show you soon! Yey!

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Fuchsia Groan Concept Design from Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ Trilogy

For my Final Major Project of my Degree, BA Make Up and Prosthetics for Performance I have been working on Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ Trilogy again. I have been focusing a lot of designing on the character Fuchsia Groan. She is described as a girl with ‘wild’, ‘inky black hair’ and covers her bedroom top to bottom with drawings. She also spends a lot of her time in her ‘attic of make-believe’. I want her hair to become part of her drawings, ‘coming alive’ with her imagination and moving into the spaces that surround her. The attic (the place she regularly escapes to) is a dark shadowy land where she enters her own world of imagination, a place where she can do and be who she’s wants. When she is there her hair will grow with her imagination and the shadows that fall on the walls will show images of her deep desires for her ‘prince charming’. When she reads her favorite book in the attic the ink from her hair runs down her face, onto her body and makes tattoos on her skin illustrating the writing. I want to capture her creative, passionate personality in all these drawings. As she ages through the text and loses her hope for a better world for herself she finally gives into her loneliness. At this point her hair will start to fall and weigh her down. When she eventually dies/commits suicide the ink will run out of her completely and trickle down her body into the water of the flood.

Her face is ‘in a sense, ugly of face, but with how small a twist might she not suddenly have become beautiful’. I interpreted this quote from ‘Titus Groan’ as her having very out of proportion features, they would look like each ear, nose, mouth… and so on, had come from different people; one of her features alone is perfect but together form a very strange assortment of looks.

Here are some initial concept drawings for the project. I am currently working on making the pieces for this character and trying to find ways to bring her hair alive. Looking at the use of projections, puppetry and stop motion animation. It’s an exciting project and I’m also looking for a photographer to come and photograph the final work. Eventually I want to create the animation I have story-boarded so if any creative people are interested in helping me film, photograph or light this project I would be thrilled to collaborate. Please get in touch and I’ll keep updating on the progress of my work! Contact, gracemccomisky@gmail.com


Wig fully grown


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Mermaid Creatures

Today I created this make-up on Delia Muir, an actress I’ve worked with for a few years now from Many Roots Theatre Company. I made a cap-plastic bald cap and imbedded layers of colour, sequins and fish scales that I made from painted acetate. I also made the cheek prosthetics and gills in gelatin. I didn’t have a huge amount of time to prepare or an excess of materials for this make up, however, I think it turned out nicely. I enjoyed playing around with colouring and mixing materials in the preparation time. Unfortunately we were restricted on the day and only had an hour to shoot the model otherwise I’d have loved to do some photographs on location and maybe have completed a full body paint. This has got me interested in the possibility of extending this theme as I have lots of other ideas for aquatic/human creatures. This one in particular was based on tropical fish so is quite a pretty, colourful fish. The photos shown here are pictures I took after the shoot. I’ll put up the photos from the photo shoot soon, which were taken by Ben Smith photographer for Just Another Magazine (or JAM). 


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Live Peacock Body paint at Horseplay, Camden Proud Galleries February 2011

I set out with my newly finished Peacock Headdress to another Horseplay event to follow out a body paint on beautiful Lizzie West. This was, as it often is, a last minute idea but I was feeling up for a challenge to create something fun and colourful and use my new peacock. This is the peacock I painted earlier on in my blog which I then finished by making a cage and a fan of feathers. The fan can be opened and closed at the back which I think is a nice little feature.

I have recently bought an air brush so I took it along to Proud for a little test run. It is always a lot more difficult body painting in a live environment due to many factors. For example, lighting is often dark in a club setting, people want to talk to you a lot, your model is easily distracted by people so it can be hard to keep up the momentum as body painting is a very time consuming art. These along with other factors are some of the challenges working on a live body paint. However, I managed to get a surprising amount finished in the 5 hours alloted to the job. I was also very fortunate that Lauren Cahill came and helped me on the final couple of hours. It is a good idea having an assistant, body painting always takes a long time due to the amount of area you need to cover. Even if an assistant is there to fill in large areas of colour or do other time consuming jobs it’s always amazing having someone to help. Lauren was a brilliant help, even though she isn’t a make up artist she is confident and works quickly. Thank you!

I love body painting but it’s always an exhausting job for you and your model so I’d like to say a special thank you to Lizzie West for her patience while we worked away making her into a beautiful peacock creation.

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Aurora Starr and her new horns

I’ve been making some horns for my good friend and fabulous performer, Aurora Starr for a few weeks and finally got to shoot it. We met up with photographer Arron Dunworth who is a fantastic photographer mainly working in fashion. It was a lovely day in his studio and we came out with some beautiful photos of Aurora. We used two different pairs of horns I have recently made in my spare time, pretty straight forward work using my good friend Millinery Wire to form the main structures.

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Mycological Society

Mycological Society Creature for dance production, 'Traveller and Unraveller' 2011

This term I’ve been working on the ‘Mycological Society’ for the show ‘Traveller and Unraveller’. Here is a photo of one of the characters, modeled by the beautiful Lizzie West. The ‘Mycological Society’ live at the bottom of the Unraveller’s tree roots, rooting him to the earth and holding him down. The idea behind the colouring is that as he starts to break free from the roots the bring orange colour is revealed. We made the fungus heads so that they move with the dancers and so when they open up the fungus tilts revealing the bright colours. This worked beautifully alongside the prosthetics. We sculpted smaller fungus pieces for the face and made them in silicone so that we would be able to re-use them. The prosthetics are designed to take away certain features in order to make them look less human. On stage they are totally disguised until they start to move. Even then, as they keep their eyes closed people were confused as to if they were people or not which in itself was a triumph. These characters have been a pleasure to make, they never fail to make me smile even though it’s a make up i’ve had to do over and over again.

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Live Body Painting at HorsePlay January!

Live Body painting!

The other week I did this body paint/make-up at Horseplay in Camden Proud Galleries. It’s always fun doing body painting in a live environment but incredibly stressful. The lighting was terrible, distractions everywhere. There are pros and cons to working in this environment. The aim was to work freely, loosely basing my painting on a few Klimt images I brought along but mostly working with the inspiration around me from my environment and the other things going on. I think this kind of project is interesting as it often spontaneity gives you something better than when you’ve planned a make up. In this case I wasn’t entirely happy with the outcome. I felt stressed and I found it very difficult to concentrate and focus on the make up. It is a difficult skill learning to do fantastic, creative work in these types of environments. Saying that Lizzie looks stunning as usual!!! I also like the gold/coper leaf used especially on the head.

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