Helen Layfield MA

Intuitive Fine Art Dolls and Soft Sculpture

As we travel life’s rich journey we are immersed in the beliefs and values of family, society and culture. They are absorbed through our senses and stored deep within us. They make us who we are, and yet, as individuals, we are unique. We each understand and experience life differently, no two lives will be the same.

In our creativity, our stories emerge.

Making a figurative sculpture or fine art doll connects us on a very human level. There is an honesty in the human form that every one of us can connect to… we understand it, for it is us, in all our variations.

A figurative piece does not have to respond on a realistically physical level, rather aspects of spiritual, mental and emotional elements are often seen.

Using textiles as a medium connects us on a non-hierarchical level. No special equipment is needed, no complex skills, the construction and finished piece is completely individual.

There is therefore a connection to us, our identity and authenticity, and a connection with others who respond to our work.

I have been an artist for over 30 years, I started as an Illustrator, with my principal medium being printmaking, moving into community-based work and teaching at all levels, in many varied settings.

Six years ago, during my MA I began developing making figures as a means of exploring identity. My research extended after I qualified to make healing and transformational dolls and fine art dolls. As my work developed, I realised that the power of the figure so clearly held our stories and our identity. This self-knowledge, the “who am I “is the healing, transformational and empowering element.

I make bright bold fine art dolls in a naive, primitive, raw, folk style in both felt and African Fabrics that are smaller and fun; I also make large hanging and free-standing sculptures, which are more complex and have underlying narrative. I enjoy them both, they are both part of me.

I decided to go back to Art College to complete an MFA. To research “Who Am I?”

through making Figurative Textiles.

My project will look into:

  • materials and materiality -how and why we use the materials we do…
  • hand stitching, as a story within both the making and the decoration…
  • tearing and wrapping of fabric, symbolism and meaning…

 All of these are intrinsic to both the making process and the decorative elements. They come together to tell the story of who we are.

Helen, your dolls are Amazing! I love everything about them: designs, colors and expressions! Thank you for sharing your art with all of us!

Norma Soulet

My Products

Fine Art Dolls

As human beings we are drawn to objects that resemble us, and that we understand. They are comforting and enlightening and remind us how wonderful it is to be human. They are mini versions of ourselves, our culture, our heritage.The resemblance does not have to be realistic, pattern, shapes, colours, textures, size, can all bring a tangible connection, and we may not know why.I believe that figurative pieces made from textiles hold a special place in our lives. There is a tacit connection between the softness and texture of textiles to skin, the stuffing can be firm yet is delicate like flesh and wool or cloth can be similar to hair.

Blue Moon


Height 24” Width 10”

Standing doll

Felt, rafia, wool, beads, buttons, fabric. Machine stitched and hand stitched



Height 13.5” Width at hips 9”

Standing doll

Felt, fabric, wool, beads, buttons, machine stitching



Height 13” Width at base 5”

Standing doll

Felt, beads, buttons, rafia, machine stitched

Stitch Goddess


Height 36” Width 9.5”

Hanging doll

Beads, buttons, felt, Extensive decorative hand stitching

Bird of Paradise


Height 34” Width 10”

Hanging doll

Fabric, felt, beads, string

Mother Earth


Height 18” Width: – Hips 8”
Wall Hanging
Felt, buttons, beads, raffia, hand stitching

Purple Princess


Height 16” Width:  Base – 5” Hair – 10”
Wall Hanging
Felt, buttons, beads, raffia, hand stitching



Height 15”. Width 5.5” at feet 10” width of hair
Wall hanging
Felt, buttons, beads, raffia, hand stitching

Textile Sculpture

My three dimensional soft sculptural work uses patchwork, applique, visible stitching , tearing and wrapping. The fabric I use is reclaimed from many sources or offcuts.

Each figure is made in a number of pieces generally two or more. They range from 8″ – 20cm to 7o” – 180cm. My influences are the aesthetics of African and Folk art.

The smaller work can be propped up or are freestanding, the larger pieces are either designed to be hung on a wall or are freestanding sculptures.

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