Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Life of the Giantess - New Paper Sculpture by Patty Grazini

You might recall a previous feature about the fascinating animal head/criminal sculptures created by paper artist Patty Grazini. (Intrigued? See them here). Patty's latest work is quite different from the previous collection... this time she meticulously created a full-size, historically accurate paper replica of 7'2" giantess Elizabeth Lyska, who became famous across Europe in the late 1880s.

elizabeth-lyska-paper sculpture

As a young girl, Elizabeth left her small Russian village with her uncle to tour as a means of financially supporting her siblings after the death of their parents. She was the center of attention wherever she went, not only due to her large stature, but also because she was quite attractive.


Patty came across the giantess in an article about Barnum's American Museum while researching subjects to recreate, and was captivated by Elizabeth's brief, but illustrious career. Apparently of normal size until age 4, she then began to grow rapidly. Elizabeth was over 7 feet tall by age 11.

elizabeth-lyska-paper sculpture

Her paper likeness will be on display in Seattle beginning November 10 (more information below). Historically accurate objects recreated from paper that Elizabeth accumulated during her lifetime will be exhibited as well - for example, a bouquet of roses that were named after her and a locket containing pictures of her parents.


Each intricately detailed accessory is accompanied by a description fabricated by Patty's son from stray facts gathered from newspapers, books, letters, and diaries.

perfume atomizer

Because very few details are known about Elizabeth's short life, he researched people who lived during the same time period, and spun a fact-based story with Elizabeth and the objects as its subjects. In this unique way, Patty and her son effectively bring her to life.


A tiny chair holds an engagement ring, meant to fit Elizabeth's finger. It was given to her by one of her wealthy suitors along with the key to his private chambers.


Displayed on a pedestal base is an ornate bracelet. The front is the eye and good luck charms hang around it. On the band are more than thirty tiny faces of people.

Patty told me Elizabeth's face and hands are made from paper pulp and covered with layers of paper so that she has a "papery" look. Her framework was constructed with paper tubes that are ordinarily used for pouring concrete, and the arms and legs are all paper; PVC pipes were used for her shoulders and upper body. "It was quite a process trying to build her, lightweight and strong. I'm a little nervous about the move [to the gallery]. Her head comes off, but she will have to ride standing up in a very large van to accommodate her size."


If you're lucky enough to be in Seattle, Elizabeth will be on display at The Curtis Steiner Gallery in the Ballard neighborhood beginning November 10; an opening reception will be held at 7:00 PM. The gallery is located at 5349 Ballard Avenue NW, Seattle WA 98107.


Maureen said...


The "accumulated" paper objects are wonderful, too.

Kai said...

That's truly one of THE most stunning pieces I've ever seen!

SUGANTHI said...

This is truly amazing ,creating such a huge doll and to make it look so real. Their are so many details in each piece that I can't stop admiring . Love the rolled paper beads she is wearing.

Melissa Kojima said...

What an amazing feat. I hope she makes it to the gallery okay. The detailed accessories are fantastic. Such love and care put into this paper sculpture. Much admiration for it.

Jan Castle said...


Handmade in Israel said...

This is truly incredible! The detail is just breathtaking.

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