Textile Sculptures

British crafter Donya Coward’s beaded, lacey creations.
By The Bark Editors, March 2014, Updated June 2021
Wall-mounted head: top, Greyhound;

Wall-mounted head: Greyhound (top); A work in progress: Staffordshire Bull Terrier (bottom); Donya sewing in the studio (bottom);

Ten years ago, Donya Coward was a recent graduate of the knitwear fashion design program at Nottingham Trent University (UK). On a lark, she made some brooches from odd scraps she had lying around. Next came a children’s story illustrated with fabric faces. But her craft and career path really soared when she started to make full-blown animal sculptures that she refers to as “textile taxidermy.”

These eco-friendly, three-dimensional works are constructed with layers of knit and crochet and completed by a fine “skin” of embroidery and beading. When describing her process, Coward emphasizes her use of “antique, vintage and up-cycled haberdashery, laces, fabrics and embroideries,” and adds that, for her, “it is important to preserve the craftsmanship and skills of days gone and give them a new identity.”

She certainly has made her mark with her intricate and lovely dog heads, banners and full-sized figures. She takes commissions, and all her work is done by hand—definitely well worth the wait they might require.

Article first appeared in The Bark, Issue 77: Spring 2014