Charles Manson: Serial Killer Arts & Crafts
You can call Charles Manson a lot of things, but make sure your list includes "triple threat" — did you know that the infamous serial killer and former musician is also a talented artist? We first heard about Manson’s less dangerous skills through an unusual collection of "blame dolls" and original letters collected by Pat Bombard. Manson made these dolls from the threads of his gym shorts while serving out his lifetime sentence in California’s San Quentin Prison. Most of them are confiscated, but sometimes, they make it out. We asked Pat how these escaped and he referred us to a friend who told us a story (anonymously) about trust, friendship and soap:
"My father worked at San Quentin Prison for several years during Manson’s incarceration. During this time he was assigned to Manson’s block and had daily interactions with Manson. It was always odd to hear my father speak in high regard of “Charlie,” telling me that he was very charismatic and how you could see the kindness in his eyes. “It’s no wonder why so many people followed and trusted him,” my father would say. Manson seemed to have a better understanding of things most of the time; then he would have his days. Mumbling random words, speaking of Helter Skelter and the race wars, taking everything in his cell apart and scattering it around, and trying to “blow up people’s hearts with his mind,” only to say it couldn’t be done because that person had no heart.
Mason used to say that the only person to be more famous than Charles Manson was the person that killed Charles Manson. With this idea, there were very few people that he trusted, my father being one of the few. He gave my father several gifts including the dolls, letters and a few signatures that he insured would bring him “an extra 50 bucks” if he needed. All of these things were not to be taken from the prison and it is now my understanding that all of his art is to be burned.
The Manson Blame Dolls are very interesting and unique. I know there are a couple others that have made it out; but none like these. The dolls are made from Manson’s gym shorts. Each thread was taken from the cotton and twisted and tied to make these pieces. He could not make these for a long time because Manson began to have allergic reactions to the fabric or soap. What makes the dolls truly unique are the letters. Manson gave each of the dolls purpose and value. The letters can explain best what their individual purposes are.
The dolls were taking from the prison as a set. There was a pretty high risk in removing these, but Manson insisted that my father take them and that they were a gift to him, unlike the other who had stole from his cell.
There are so many stories I could tell you of Manson and even more my father could tell. My father gave the dolls to me about a year ago and asked me if I could find some value in them. I believe these are a part of history and should be shared."
Photographs and Scans Courtesy of Pat Bombard