The Sand, the Sea, and the Circus



Nadine Arthur


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Photographer/Hair stylist: Patricia Caldwell (Instagram @beautifully.tacky) Model and Make-up Artist: Nadine Arthur (Instagram @madnadsmagua)

Outline the story …

In "The Gracekeepers" by Kristy Logan the world has been swallowed almost entirely by ocean and land is now sacred and scarce. Humans have divided themselves into two groups, landlockers and damplings. Each group feels they are superior and pity the other for their way of life. Contact with one another is avoided unless necessary. Damplings are thought of as sinners and are required to wear brass bells whenever they are on land to make their presence on the precious soil known. The story follows a circus ship the Excalibur as they travel from island to island performing to earn enough to survive. The performers and the ship are worn down but resilient. The crew doubles as the circus, it is composed of; clowns, acrobats, fire breathers, the glamours, animal tamers, and the ringmaster. I was drawn to the Glamours, a group of three women, Teal, Cyan, and Mauve. They perform the Maypole dance and engage with the crowd. Behind the scenes on The Island of Maidens (the self proclaimed name for the coracle they reside in) they beautify the performers with handmade costumes, and concoct hair dyes and makeup from ocean materials. The trio is described as flirtatious, beautiful and mischievous. I was drawn in by their charm and their roster of skill sets. I chose to bring the character Teal to life.

Outline the construction…

Materials that are referenced include; silk, leather, cotton, sequins, ribbon and brass metals. There is a sense of poverty that fuels the enginuity in the glamours to create designs using limited and worn down materials they have available. I recreated that aesthetic with a balance of finished and raw edges, aged brass, and distressed fabrics. I designed, drafted, and constructed the blouse, corset, skirt, necklace, and garter.

For the blouse I used a lightweight crepe, with leather lacing, it allows for a beautiful drape and flow which would be desirable during a performance. The corset contains black and white striped cotton, a basket weave silk that has natural imperfections creating a sense of wear and tear, leather, ribbon, lace, and brass hardware. This was based off a 1890s Swiss Riding Corset, I chose this style for its silhouette and ease of movement. The skirt was originally drafted but after testing the ruffle placements it felt too organized, I decided to drape it instead. It now is more asymmetrical which achieves a flow that mimics moving water. I used lace, crepe and knit to layer in texture. The underlayer uses the same striped cotton as the corset. The lace ruffle necklace incorporates the brass hardware and calls on the edgy style of the character. The garter is how I imagined the glamours would approach having to wear a bell on land. Accentuated and stylized. A touch of sequins and torn up tights finish the look.




  1. Avatar Gabrielle Amey on March 12, 2021 at 2:56 am


  2. Avatar Kathleen Davies on March 12, 2021 at 4:34 pm

    The interplay between all the different fabrics is lovely – there’s always something else to look at and admire!

    • Avatar Nadine Arthur on March 12, 2021 at 10:50 pm

      Seeing how many different colours and textures I can mingle together Is my favourite game to play.

      Thank you for noticing and appreciating it!

  3. Avatar Amanda on March 13, 2021 at 1:26 am

    I love the striped details on the back of the corset. Lovely!

    • Avatar Nadine Arthur on March 18, 2021 at 9:42 pm

      Thanks! I can’t resist stripes =)

  4. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 13, 2021 at 10:34 am

    Such a great outfit, I love all the details and buckles.

  5. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 17, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    Beautiful job! I love the textures and the contrasts you achieved.

    • Avatar Nadine Arthur on March 18, 2021 at 9:45 pm

      Thanks! I love making use of random treasures and scraps of fabric to add in detail.

  6. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 26, 2021 at 12:38 am

    I love how you put so much of your character’s personality into each piece of this outfit, and you totally embodied her as a performer in the photos! The striped details and buckles on the corset are great accents too, I love the shape you’ve created, with the stripes highlighting the curve of the back, and I just noticed how the blue lacing and trim on the corset also matches the blue lace of the skirt! Lovely matching of all the colours and fabrics!

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