Karen Gelbard, The Oregon Weaver, specializes in designing and producing handwoven jackets, coats, and scarves. In her studio on the Oregon Coast, Karen creates classically styled garments. Her scarves, with themes such as “Driftwood” or “Grasses of Summer”, are well known as color landscapes drawn from the Pacific Northwest. Her jackets and coats have colors, borders, and textures drawn from what she sees every day.
After Karen graduated from The University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Design in 1974, she focused her creative energies on color and texture using fiber. She went on to demonstrate her weaving, and design skills in schools, classes, and museums across the country.
“I want to tell an Oregon story in my handwoven jackets and scarves," says Karen. "First, I develop colorways in warp and weft inspired by the Northwest. There are often more than twenty different colors in any warp which adds a richness and depth to the cloth. I circle my cutting table, eyeing the handwoven cloth. Then silver scissors flash and pattern shapes appear. Serge, stitch, and steam. Pin, tuck, and fold. Color, texture, shape, and form grow into a handwoven garment. Wherever these garments go, they will tell an Oregon story.”
In addition to her own work, Karen is one of a small group of artists who helps with the on-going restoration project of historic Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. Since 1979, she has woven 310 yards of upholstery fabric for the Lodge in the style of the original handwoven fabrics.
In 1984, Karen was commissioned by Larry Kirkland to assist in the design and fabrication of 44 rugs in the main lodge at Sunriver Lodge in Bend, Oregon.
Karen’s fabrics were used in the original costumes designed by Susan Lilly for a production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” performed in Portland, Oregon in 2001.
Karen markets her work at juried art fairs and galleries across the country. When not traveling to shows, she can be found in her studio in Pacific City, Oregon.
- Checkerboard fabric for Timberline Lodge.
- Timberline Lodge couches with handwoven fabric.