Hello and welcome to Pantovola,

here you can read a bit more about my textile art and dolls,
and the process of creating them.

 

The first thing that springs to mind when talking about the things one creates, is inspiration.
What is it that inspires someone to make a certain thing in a certain way?

For me personally, this is hugely based on memory, and particularly the memories I have from my younger childhood.
When I was a child, my main occupation was to somehow escape into a fantasy world,
somewhere to feel enchanted and empowered.

There are a few crystal clear memories of such moments successfully coming to fruition.
One is of the afternoons spend in my room covered in murals of my own making,
curtains closed and candles burning, lighting up the Shadow Theatre I had made of Japanese paper and cardboard cut-outs.
Witches and wolves played out their stories behind the screen, dolls and teddies as an audience.

The other, most vivid memory I have of such wonderful escapism is of a late crisp winter afternoon,
cycling through the flat icy country side with my grandmother to see a puppetry show on a farm.
The theatre was set up in the barn, with thick burgundy velvet curtains, wooden school chairs and a magical scent of dust and animals encasing the space.
The setting, the smell, the dimmed light and the puppetry transported me completely,
and I think that this is the feeling I try to relive and capture in my own art and doll universe.

I stitch my creations by hand with cotton, vintage fabrics, discarded textiles, old garments and antique lace, when I can get my hands on it. Sometimes I use clay for hands and faces, as it allows for more detail. I love rummaging fleamarkets and second hand shops to find fabrics and haberdashery. The more worn the textile, the more it speaks to me somehow. As if the material has its own secret story to tell, which for me personally, adds so much to the work I am making. Sometimes the fabrics I use are so worn, I have to somehow 'restore' them in places to make them not fall apart entirely, especially when there are beads and embroidery involved.

Finally I decorate the dolls and sculptures with my drawings, embroidery, beads and sometimes little found objects that are part of the story of the piece.

Story telling is a big part of my work,
each doll and sculpture has their own little fantastical tale to tell, such as in The Theatre of Tales;
a story about Pantovola and the traveling theatre with its strange inhabitants and creatures.
You can read the full story here

Animals are an endless source of inspiration for me,
especially wolves.
As a child, and still sometimes now,
I dreamed of wolves almost every night.
At first they were terribly scary creatures,
always chasing and dangerous.

But in one particular dream this all changed.
When I paused to take a closer look at the dream wolf,
I noticed it was in fact made of lots of pieces of fabric,
all stitched together like a quilt.

Since that dream, a good 20 years ago,
the wolf changed to being a good omen,
wise and mysterious,
guiding me to secret places in the woods.

The doll on the left is called Josephine the Wolf,
she is a kind Wolf Witch.

She loves drying flowers in her flower press,
her favorite drink is smoked tea from the Pakakucha Mountains

From the fragile age of young childhood,
I adored getting lost in Fairy Tales.
Especially the beautifully illustrated books by the Brothers Grimm have been a fierce life inspiration and affirmation.
Later on I became enchanted by artists such as The Brothers Quay and Jan Švankmaier.

I spend most my childhood dressing up as the fantastical characters of fairytales and stories,
and I still love to spend time doing just that, immersing myself in the world of magic and mystery.

One thing I love most about making my dolls, is to be once again enchanted by the imaginings of otherworldly beings and creating them beautiful clothes and accessories.
Seeing them come to life is quite wonderful.

I often find though, that a doll will start out one way,
beginning with an idea and image in my head, but during the process of their making,
they will change themselves quite forcefully.
It is as if they have their own ideas an opinions of what they should become,
and I only have so much to say on the matter!

I like to use embroidery for details,
or sometimes for the writing of small texts on the doll.
I know there are embroidery options on my sewing machine, but I have never tried it out.
So my embroidery is all hand stitched and 'free' as I don't use any specific technique,
I just embroider the way I paint, by eye and intuition.

Painting is something I love doing too,
and I have found making the textile dolls with the painted designs to be a perfect symbioses.

Another favorite material of mine is coffee.
For drinking and for using on the textile, as a staining medium and as well for mixing paint

Lady Pavlova & Wolf Gustav were the first two 'Pantovola’ dolls I made
Gustav lives in the Polish woodlands
Lady Pavlova has moved on to pursue a career as a cabaret singer in Oklahoma

Besides my autonomous work, I like to create custom pieces too.
For example I make Guardian Witch Dolls on a bespoke bases,
these are special art dolls who come to life in collaboration with your ideas and wishes.

Would you be interested to find out more about such dolls,
you can read about them here
for your custom doll request please fill out this form
You can find my available ooak dolls and textile sculptures in my shop here

Thank you for reading

x P x