Name: Karen Wallach
Originally From: Norristown, PA. Went to high school in Naperville, IL, & Art Institute of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
“Originally from” is a loaded question for me. Growing up, my father moved around with each job promotion. My husband’s position in computers has taken us all over the country and we now find ourselves in southwest Portland. We moved here from Blaine, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. He is working at Nike. I am one of the few people that can say I have lived in both Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine. We will have to meet for coffee if you want to here the about the rest of the places we have lived. The list is a long one.
Mill End Employee Since: 2016
Department: Home Decor
Do you sew or knit? Sew
How did you learn, and how old were you?
I have sewn all of my life and I cannot say for sure when I started. Just always have “made things”. As a child, it was clothes for the cat and my dolls. Then, as I’ve continued on my path, it has been quilts, wearable art, furniture upholstery, and costumes. Fabric, needle, and thread have always followed me where ever I have gone. I consider myself a Mixed Media Textile Artist. In short, I like to use fabrics in all of my art work, design, and to create my own textiles. Fabrics are a tactile experience for me and I enjoy developing these ideas and sharing those ideas it with others through the art that I create.
Fabric used in this quilt was dyed in one of my classes that I was teaching on creating your own color wheel of hand-dyed fabrics
The story behind the quilt is I had gone on retreat to LaVeta, Colorado. Our host, Ricky Tims (Quilt artist and musician) had just received a new hand carved flute. Every morning after breakfast we would have an hour to journal/meditate/design. Ricky would play his flute or his piano. It was an amazing way to start the day. This is the quilt that I created on the retreat. The quilt was inspired by the mountains we awoke to every morning, the wild flowers that were blooming in the fields, the bear that walked through town the night we all stayed up well past midnight to sew, and the creative energy that was flowing through all of us that week in LaVeta.
What is your favorite creative accomplishment?
My favorite creative accomplishment is always the last project I just finished. This would be the costumes that I wore to a costuming convention in May of this year.
“The Dust Bunny Fairy”
Created for a masquerade ball where you had to use one of three patterns for your costume. I won for being the “Best Fairy”.
What is your favorite sewing technique or “hack”?
My favorite trick from my sewing studio is the glue stick. I use glue sticks to baste things together, hold trim in place till I can stitch in place, baste in a zipper, working with vinyl or other fabrics that pins will mark. I discovered this trick when teaching kids how to sew. They were much more adapt at using a glue stick than working with pins. Gluing seams together was fun and eliminated the fear of being stuck by a pin. Also, glue wipes right off if it shows up in an unwanted place. Getting an even and straight seam was an easier task when fabrics are not shifting about and you don’t have to worry about pulling out the pins as you sew. I find the glue UHU Stick that goes on purple and dries clear is the best. You are able to see what you are gluing because of the color. I have never had a problem with color or glue making a mess of any of the projects I have used it on.
“Victorian Walking Suit in purple”
Machine embroidered jacket, skirt, and under garments are to date the largest embroidery project I have designed since getting an embroidery machine two years ago. This was the costume that I wore to the historical masquerade ball.
What are you working on now?
Currently, my other hobby of going to estate sales and flea markets has been occupying most of my time. I also have dug out my bead box and have been stringing beads. I also enjoy working in my sketch book, drawing dogs and other things that amuse me while dreaming up the next costumes I want to create.