Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pierrot Cotton Batting Figure Ornament

Left, Pierrot porcelain heads found in a resale shop.
Right, a detailed photo of my finished cotton batting version of Pierrot.
      I found these little china doll parts of Pierrot in a resale shop not far from my house. I thought that it would be a good exercise to "dress" them in cotton batting instead of the predictable cloth body and costume. 
      Pierrot is a stock character of pantomime and Commedia dell'Arte whose origins are in the late seventeenth-century Italian troupe of players performing in Paris and known as the Comédie-Italienne; the name is a hypocorism of Pierre (Peter), via the suffix -ot. His character in postmodern popular culture—in poetry, fiction, the visual arts, as well as works for the stage, screen, and concert hall—is that of the sad clown, pining for love of Columbine, who usually breaks his heart and leaves him for Harlequin. Read more . . .

The chenille stem body of my
 Pierrot character.
Supply List:
  • Pierrot China Heads
  • chenille stems
  • cotton balls
  • tacky glue
  • white school glue
  • silver cupcake liners
  • red pom-poms
  • black acrylic paint
  • wire for hanging
  • recycled egg carton parts for his hat
  • gold thread
  • neddle
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1.  Twist together several chenille stems to create two arms, a short torso, a neck and two legs for your pantomime figure (pictured right)
  2. Use very tacky glue to paste the neck of this chenille stem body inside the hollow porcelain head. Let it dry over night.
  3. Unravel several cotton balls so that the cotton resembles thin strips of batting to work with. I used many cotton balls to layer with white glue in order to dress these dolls. 
  4. First I twist the cotton with a bit of glue onto the tips of my wire body's hands and feet. 
  5. Then I proceed to wrap the entire figure with layers of cotton batting and white glue, always ending with a generous layer of glue so that the figure must dry over night after several applications.
  6. Pierrot wears a traditional long skirted shirt over his white pantaloons. His black skull cap and large pleated collar are unmistakeable costume features. I switched out the traditional white or black pom-poms with red in order to add a little color. However, Pierrot is most usually dressed in only black and white.
  7. After the batting has dried completely, paint the dolls gloves and shoes black. 
  8. Glue on a silver cupcake liner to serve as a dramatic collar.
  9. I covered some small recycled egg carton parts that reminded me of hats with cotton batting and glue. Then I took a needle and punched a tiny hole on opposite sides of the hat in order to string a thin gold twine through. I hung this paper mache hat around my Pierrot's neck.
  10. At last I wrapped an long piece of wire with cotton batting and white glue before twisting it around my clown's waist. I will attach the small doll to tree branches with this wire instead of hanging the Pierrot from a traditional hook. This small doll is just a little too heavy to attach it otherwise.
My three completed cotton batting figures of the popular pantomime character, Pierrot. Dolls are often too heavy to hang from fragile branches via a hook and so they must be attached by alternative means. I frequently twist a wire around the torso of a small doll in order to hang it securely to a tree branch.
I gave this Pierrot figure a hat similar to one painted by Paul Cezanne.


 "Theriault's auctions. Pierrot,a centuries old figure originating in Italian theatre,was revitalized in late 19th/early 20th century Paris,evolving from rogue status into an evocative,romantic figure of popular culture. The automaton was designed to be demonstrated in a darkened room with oil lamp lit,for best effect."

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