As far back as I can remember I’ve loved the tv show, “Gunsmoke”. My younger sister, Lisa, and I used to watch it at my Mema and Papa’s house when we were little girls. I was always fascinated with the fabulous dresses and hats that Miss Kitty Russell, the saloon proprietress, along with the saloon girls wore. The jaunty feathers, ruffles, vivid colors, gloves, tassels, fringe, hats, puffed sleeves, lace and beaded bustiers in the dance hall always caught my eye. I can still hear Miss Kitty say, as she was looking in the window of the store at some fantastic shoes, “$2.65 for a pair of shoes! It’s too high. Wilbur Jonas is a bandit, Matt. You ought to arrest him.” (I found the clip! Posted below.)
I purchased this print from Legends of America. I used the colors and patterns as inspiration for this piece.
For the base of the piece I used Heirloom Traditions Chalk Type Paint in Sundance. I used 1gel Transfer & Decoupage Gel ALL-IN-ONE (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!) to decoupage the paper to the drawers and also to seal. I left the top as it was, naturally raw and rustic, and sealed the paint with Heirloom Traditions Clear Spray Wax and Muddy Pond Soft Wax (My favorite!) by Heirloom Traditions.
“Honey, you just throw your shoulders back and get down there and howl.”
“Saloon girls wore brightly colored ruffled skirts that were
scandalously short for the time – mid-shin or knee-length. Under the
bell-shaped skirts, could be seen colorfully hued petticoats that
barely reached their kid boots that were often adorned with tassels.
More often than not, their arms and shoulders were bare, their bodices
cut low over their bosoms, and their dresses decorated with sequins
and fringe. Silk, lace, or net stockings were held up by garters,
which were often gifts from their admirers. The term “painted ladies”
was coined because the “girls” had the audacity to wear make-up and
dye their hair. Many were armed with pistols or jeweled daggers
concealed in their boot tops to keep the boisterous cowboys in line.
Most saloon girls were considered “good” women by the men they danced
and talked with; often receiving lavish gifts from admirers. In most
places the proprieties of treating the saloon girls as “ladies” were
strictly observed, as much because Western men tended to revere all
women, and because the women or the saloon keeper demanded it. Any man
who mistreated these women would quickly become a social outcast, and
if he insulted one he would very likely be killed.
In the early California Gold Rush of 1849, dance halls began to appear
and spread throughout later settlements. While these saloons usually
offered games of chance, their chief attraction was dancing. The
customer generally paid 75¢ to $1.00 for a ticket to dance, with the
proceeds being split between the dance hall girl and the saloon owner.
After the dance, the girl would steer the gentleman to the bar, where
she would make an additional commission from the sale of a drink.
Dancing usually began about 8:00 p.m., ranging from waltzes to
schottisches with each “turn” lasting about 15 minutes. A popular girl
would average 50 dances a night, sometimes making more a night than a
working man could make in a month.
To the saloon owner, the dance girls were a profitable commodity and
gentlemen were discouraged from paying too much attention to any one
girl, as dance hall owners lost more women to marriage than in any
other way.” ~ Article by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America.
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