When I first started out online with my mannequin business I went to all sorts of lengths to show them in the right light.
I’d started my business from home and so the kitchen became the designated photographing area.
I’d tied a big bed sheet up to hide the fridge and you know what, it worked. Well it worked in the sense that I had at least images of my mannequins to put online.
But looking back at them, they were not really that good but I’d done them, they were out there and helped my business take off.
These days I have an actual photographing area (it gets repainted white weekly) and use just my smart phone with my favourite filter.
I use my images now for my product listings and social media content but certainly for anything going into the press I would use the services of a really good photographer.
Just having the right tools to begin and an easy to follow format is just great advice when you are starting out online.
If you’ve been given the once in a lifetime opportunity to search for a mannequin – what would you consider first? Here are some of my top tips to help newcomers to the world of dollies decide how to purchase a mannequin.
What do you need a mannequin for?
There are a variety of mannequins available, from cheap and cheerful and fit for just a few uses to those that stand the test of time. Therefore, before you rush out and buy one – think about what you will need it to do.
There are more than 101 uses for mannequins but it’s worth understanding how many pennies you will need to part with as the majority of us have no choice but to purchase according to budget.
A cheap £30 job off the Internet probably comes with 30 days of use before it ends up like a disfunctional robot. Seriously. The fittings on the cheaper ones are not that good.
You can purchase a mid range, good quality one for around £300 all in. Or a good quality used one can set you back about £100.
So if you want your mannequin to have any kind of longevity, you are better off investing a bit more money (in some cases quite a lot) to ensure that the mannequin has the durability to be undressed and redressed month after month – even years.
When do you need the mannequin to arrive?
Whilst you might think this is an odd thing to consider – in the world of mannequins it is rarely next day delivery if we are going for something that will last so it is worth planning your purchase in advance. This is because the process of taking mannequin design to production is extremely involving and takes months.
But I’m assuming your are a newcomer to my world so you will be wanting just one or two in quick time so again I urge you not to purchase those cheap ones online – with faces that look like they have been on the disco biscuits and so my range (own trumpet blown) of male and female mannequins – mid range new and good quality used ones – will probably suit your needs.
Which type should I choose?
This comes down to what you will be needing to display and this is where I can really help you with some free advice. Once you start to look into the world of mannequins – perhaps something you pass and see each day – you will be surprised at all the different kinds. Please do feel free to get in touch so that I can help you.
Is there such a thing as a recycled mannequin?
Yes there is! My ethos totally thrives on recycling mannequins and sustaining and keeping good the mannequins I already own which are available to hire. Fortunately I do also supply a fantastic range of ex-hire mannequins for sale. All mannequins are recyclable because of the nature of their raw material – it does not biodegrade.
There are processes for recycling the materials that mannequins are made of – grinding them down to incorporate in construction materials for example and this is not a new thing. I have spent years looking into this but prefer to eliminate what I see as an unnecessary toxic process and choose instead to work artistically and creatively with people to turn them into something else. Much more fun.
Where can I get the best advice about buying a mannequin?
Well if I didn’t say via our contact form then I would be lying through my teeth. I have years of experience and so many mannequins pass through my hands each week. I am always happy to chat and see where I can help you best.
We have this amazing idea that we would like to share with you…
Over the past twelve years I have been lucky enough to handle over 40,000 mannequins through our base in Lincolnshire. Not only have we provided an unrivalled mannequin hire service to clients from all over the world, and turned unwanted dummies into amazing art projects – we have also collected samples of each and every mannequin that has passed through our hands.
We want to share this collection with you through the idea of a ‘Mannakin Museum’.
In order to get this going, we have some costs ahead of us – costs that we hope to recoup through visitors and Museum memberships. If you would like to get involved either with help putting the collection together, becoming a member or anything you can think of – please stay tuned to our newsletter so that we can keep in touch as the project develops.
We will combine the museum with workshops and a cafe area.
If you enjoy finding other uses for mannequins – why not join our challenge group on Facebook? Here is the link – https://www.facebook.com/groups/mannakin101/
- Weeping Angel from Dr Who
- Bird Woman by Banksy at Dismaland
- Glitter Ball Mannequin for On Off at London Fashion Week
- The Farriers Apprentice
- Front Row Floozies – Coco de Mer Windows for London Fashion Week
- Pete and Nicky at Manouche
- At Arms Length – perfect help for social distancing >>
- Yazoo Album Cover – Mannakin Supplied Them
- The Original Arm Chair! via @mernpunk on FB & Instagram
- Bug Hotel (Click on image for tutorial)
- Find Them In The Club – Jessica McLean
- Book Ends by Dawn Williamson >>
- Mermaid Masthead by @mernpunk
- Home Made Astronaut
- Visitors Book – Great idea for a wedding or party too.
- On set with Armstrong & Miller
- Child Soldier Guarding Fridge of Heads
- Typists Table by Cheryl Neve
- Jump Fillers @ Tinderbox Sport Horses
- Mannequin at the Science Museum, London
- Aviation Show Display
- All hail Limby, Overseer of the Onions, Bird Scarer and Life Style Judger of those what congregate in groups of more than 1. Thanks Richard!
- Scarecrow to Protect the Pheasants
- Mannequin Head Handbag by Dawn Williamson
- Sports Shop Window Display
- Soap Holder in Bathroom
- Climate Strike Kids
- Merchandise Display at Royal Windsor for Musto
- Shoe Display
- Hungry Snowman Effect
- Torso Cabinet by Dawn Williamson
- Travel Buddies
- Alcohol Awareness Week or Basically March April May June 2020
- Press Day Mannequins
- Dressing Table Jewellery Bust
- Wall Plaque by Dawn Williamson
- Wicked Witch of the East Legs by Dani Thompson
- Seasons Band – Getaway – Music Video – Shot at Mannakin
- A Drinks and Nibbles Bum Table (Thank you Sylvia)
- Bird box
- Baby Lamp Base by @mernpunk on Instagram
- The most fantastic mannequin lamp by Jill
- Crash Test Dummy
- Elf on the shelf (life-size version)
- Soap dish by sink for that all important hand washing
- Park your bicycle
- Skateboarding Girls
- Dummy pin bowling
- Spirit Wrestlers / Little Typists Video
- Bare bum butler
- Jewellery Display for Omerta Jewellery >>
- Illuminated Torso 1 (Add Fairy lights inside)
- Ghost Mannequin (Packshot Photography)
- Dolls House (Crime Scene)
- Herbie Hancock – Rockit – Music Video
- Papier Mache Bust Project
- Illuminated Torso 2 (small strip light inside vs light bulb)
- Halloween Surgery
- BBC Radio Nottingham Presenter
- Killer Whale Trainer (Dismaland)
- Use as a base for sculpture
- Artist Mark Jenkins – an amazing use of mannequins
- Game of Thrones
- Casandra by Dawn Williamson
- Mannequin Leg Lampstand
- Hold a TV Interview
- Store your Cosplay Outfit
- Life Drawing
- Fake Dead Body – used in our We’ve Found A Body Escape Room Game
- Baby Head Planter – follow @mernpunk on Instagram
- Ryan Roche Pop Up at Harrods
- A Friend for your Elephant
- Whiskey Distillery Drunkard
- Press Day Cyclist
- Carries Grave – Thank you Beth Wheatley
- Richard Wakefield Photography – Unique Backdrop
- Fake Pregnancy
- HOYS Display for Musto
- Shop Assistant
- Relieve Boredom When Shopping
- Hire a Van – Fill it with Mannequins
- Art Installation – Coming out of the trees
- Astronaut at the Science Museum London
- Exhibition Hire Mannequins
- Head Planter by Sarah
- ITV Set Design
- Operation Cue (1955) Featuring Mr & Mrs America
- Posh Scarecrows! Image from @Arable_Farmer on Twitter (thank you)
- DIY 25th Birthday Party – thank you Katy, Pete, Tim & Chrissie for images
- Hat Stand by Dawn Williamson
- Christmas Tree by Wijnand De Groot
- Sitting Bird Feeder by Myra Webb
- Dartboard by Dawn Williamson – just add lager and pork scratchings…
- Customers in a Restaurant – Social Gathering! Article >>
- Thanking the Bin Men during Lockdown – Thank you Roger & Dot!
- Mannakin Book Holder
- Cyborg for a charity Halloween event – thank you David for sending us this!
- Art Lamps by Melanie Winning Link >>
- Bird Bath
- Mr Illuminated
- Mannequin Hand Charging Station – by Michael Davie >>
- Kim In The Allotment – Thank you to Mike Adams!
- Ashtray Prop from ‘The Walking Dead’ – Michael Davie
In April 2020, we launched the hashtag #mannakin101 across social networks to procure 101 uses for a mannequin, a list compiled by us and our followers. Here we are with the latest list – in no particular order. Click here for an interesting range of mannequins – all available now for your ideas and projects. Or send us a challenge and we will give it a go!
Submit your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org #mannakin101
When I set out on this bizzare task of recycling mannequins – I was interviewed in depth by one of the Dragons of the Den. The best advice he gave me was to find more ways to use mannequins.
In my latest attempt, artist Dawn Williamson and myself have made a stress busting game, that can happily sit in any office. Stay tuned for more news, but here are our first attempts.