Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at “Textiles and Settlement: From the Plains Space to Cyber Space,” Textile Society of America 12th Biennial Symposium, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 6-9, 2010. Copyright 2010 Textile Society of America


This presentation will offer a view of the work of a group of renowned world-class artists who have chosen dollmaking as their mode of expression and textiles as their medium. Art-quality images will portray work by contemporary artists creating cutting-edge textile dolls today as well as some earlier artists active as far back as the nineteen forties who, working in a more traditional vein, helped set high standards for doll artistry and built the foundation for the current state of the art form. Dolls of this caliber have found their way into the collections of the Smithsonian Institution and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, among others.

Widely varied techniques employed by individual artists, from stuffed cloth forms and needle-sculpting to cloth over clay forms and armatures; surfaces from woven or knitted fabric with embroidered or painted surface design to felted wool and even knitted wire, will be described.

In critical and academic circles, dolls made with artistic intentions have not yet been given their due as an art form. Perhaps, in part, this is because of their relationship to women’s work and the realm of toys and childhood. Textile art and dolls in particular are still climbing a ladder of public approval to achieve the rank of fine art. However, for these textile-doll artists, depiction of the human form has become a vehicle for expressing their spirits, ideas, and emotions and these creations, like all art, have the power to surprise, instruct, inspire, and delight beholders.