Making Persephone

Hello dear reader!
In this here blog post I wanted to open the curtain a little to show you my process of dollmaking,
in particular, the making of my new large “Persephone” doll

It all begins with fabric…
The doll’s body (including head, arms and legs) is cut from calico which is an inexpensive medium weight unbleached cotton/pitjes katoen) and is sewn on the machine.
It is then turned and firmly stuffed with a mix of poly fibre filling (for volume) and recycled cotton stuffing (for firmness and weight)

The face and neck are sculpted on top of the stuffed fabric with air-drying clay.
The clay on cloth method gives the clay a great solid and firm bases to sit and dry on.
Another great benefit of using stuffed fabric as a bases, opposed to a hard and solid one,
is that whilst drying, the fabric underneath is able to shrink slightly with the clay,
preventing the clay from cracking.
After drying the clay needs a lot of sanding to smooth out the surface though…
Clay parts are then painted and varnished with 3 types of varnish.
One for porcelain milkyness, one for crackles and one for waterproofing ..

Persephone’s swan neck arms have been adorned with hand embroidered leaves and branches

Being the Goddess of the Underworld, she obviously needed a beautiful large piece of Apophyllite
(a pale pink volcanic mineral) inside her chest

Her legs are made of two parts and sewn together by the knees.
They are also embroidered with leaves.

I decided to make a simple attachment construction with buttons and string hooks for the legs, so they can be removed from the top part of the doll sculpture, keeping her within shipping size restrictions! Sometimes these slightly dull but practical considerations have to be part of the creative process…

For Persephone’s bodice I used a beautiful antique (Victorian Era) silk blouse gifted to me by my dear friend Lys (who is an amazing painter of myth and magic! check out her work here)
PS she gave me the blouse for working with not wearing, so not to worry… 😉

But oh no!!! Such a beautiful Victorian garment! I really detest cutting the first cut into these unique and historic items!
Therefor I often hesitate for days wondering if it really is necessary to be so destructive…
But then again, creation often is born from destruction (a bit like Persephone’s story thinking of it now…) and alas, re-purposing in this way has its beauty and once the first cut is cut… there is no way back!  (much like life in general…you just have to go for it…yesterday will never return and today will soon be among all the other yesterdays, just saying…)

I cut scallop shapes from large to smaller pieces and layered them onto the body starting with the large pieces at the bottom, and up to the smallest shapes at the neck.
(textile glue is my best friend here, the silk is too fragile for thread and needle, it would break the delicate structure and start to unravel)

The delicate lace parts of the blouse make for a frame of the stone within the doll’s chest


For Persephone’s wig I used two colors of mohair; dusty pink and blonde, and have woven the two into a long braid. Throughout the braid I sewn in pearl beads.

So here she is, Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld, Bringer of the Spring Season
At 125 cm’s tall she is a real focal feature in any room.

For inquiries about availability of this doll sculpture, please contact me
Thank you for reading and have a beautiful emerging of Spring!

x Anouk x

10 Comments

  1. She’s beautiful ! Love the story and your description, xx

    1. Pantovola

      Thank you Fiona, I hope you are all well x

  2. Thank you for sharing your process. You turned the Victorian garment into something spectacular!

    1. Pantovola

      thanks so much, I am glad you think so 🙂

  3. Marthess

    The story and visuals of making Persephone is just as incredible as her! Thank you

    1. Pantovola

      Thanks very much! x

  4. Alison Taylor

    Thank you very much for being so generous by sharing your process with us. I love your work.

    1. Pantovola

      My pleasure, happy to read you enjoyed it

  5. Constance

    Thank you for sharing your Persephone sculpture and your method. She is stunning. I especially like her height, embroidered swan arms and button on thighs. Hope you are well. That is a pretty photo of you too!

    1. Pantovola

      My pleasure and thank you! Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

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