The Magical Cloth Art of

Karen Shifton

As a cloth doll artist for the past 17+ years, there is a history behind my involvement. Art has always been an intimate part of my life for as far back as memory allows. A wide palette of media has grabbed my attention and interest: from crafts & collage to mosaics, fused glass jewelry and hand dyed fabric. Life held lots of fascinating objects to use as a jumping off point for something else. Imagination was well exercised as a youth and sharpened as an adult.

As a hobby and pastime, sewing made a late entrance into my life. In about 1990 I was just getting my feet wet on the craft show circuit making appliquéd sweatshirts and dabbling in various other handmade items for sale. This evolved to making rudimentary rag dolls and simple decorative cloth creations.

Obtaining some new media, I venturing into new uses for art pens and pencils. After attending some lectures, I discovered some of these teachers were using colors and drawing faces so alive with individuality, I fell in love with the medium of cloth dolls. Many classes plus several teachers later, my dolls began to “sing.”


As others began to take notice and a dear friend who owns a local quilt shop added needed encouragement, my designing and teaching endeavor took root. Through the years, my creations have progressed from the flat pancake stage to complex sculpting with needle and thread. Dolls whose simple expression can tell a life’s story.

The skill to be able to persuade cloth to change from its two-dimensional state to a sculpted sentient creation still holds a fascination for me that no other medium contains.

My fabric figures have been displayed at various venues through out the United States and Canada and as far away as Australia and Japan. Patterns for my creatures and figures are available on line. Inquiries about completed dolls always welcome.