Mabel Stark (1889-1968)

This relief print of Mabel is my contribution to the Short Stack Press 2024 collaborative calendar! Find out more.

Although she may not be a household name, she is considered one of the greatest animal trainer of all time. Born into a farming family with the given name Mary Ann Haynie, she was orphaned by the age of 17 and struck out on her own to find a livelihood. By the year 1916 she had suffered a handful of attacks one of which left her unconscious with a mangled and broken arm. Stack was not discouraged by these attacks and adopted a small, sickly Tiger named Rajah. Mabel raised Rajah in her small apartment where they would develop a wrestling act that would come to astound audiences. In 1922 Mabel was hired by Ringling Brother and Barnum and Bailey Circus where she performed with a group of tigers and one black panther. Mabel was married five times and worked throughout the world in circuses and films. The one consistent in her life was working with tigers and when she was unable to continue she took her own life in 1968. The final passage in her autobiography, Hold That Tiger, she wrote, “Let them come, out slink the striped cats, snarling and roaring, leaping at each other or me. It’s a matchless thrill, and life without it is not worth while to me.”

Trailer for Leslie Zemeckis film Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer.
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Making of a Dolly Christmas 2020

A Bleuette doll is Dreaming of a Dolly Christmas!

I’m so excited to work with my sister Bebe Brown to bring you a Dolly Christmas. I have designed and hand made items that can be purchased through Bebe Brown’s Doll Haul. I was inspired by an adorable Blythe doll that is part of Bebe’s personal collection. I also used a beautiful antique doll and a Bleuette doll for inspiration. Here I will give you a little tour of how these items were made.

It all starts with a pencil sketch on tracing paper. I then flip the image and transfer it to the rubber block. And then it is all about the carving! I use a speedball cutter and a basic pink rubber block.

I got a little help making the wooden blocks in order to mount the stamps. Each stamp was coated three times with a substance called polyurethane.

It was so much fun turning my studio into Santa’s workshop! If you want more information please visit Bebe Brown’s Doll Haul. Thanks!

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Stars and Stripes!

Happy Fourth of July everyone! What a year this has been. I recently had the opportunity to create a custom image, “Stars and Stripes” for a dolly celebration my sister, Bebe Brown was hosting. Bebe is a doll enthusiast and she runs the company Bebe Brown’s Doll Haul. To celebrate Independence Day this year she put together mystery boxes for her customers and I made this custom print to be included in the boxes. I hand- colored four versions of this image. Each box had a signed and numbered reproduction. The proceeds from the 4o boxes sold went to fund a non-profit doll hospital/info center in Arizona. It has meant so much working with my big sis on this project.