Karen Gelbard, also known as The Oregon Weaver, not only has talent in the world of visual arts, but in the music realm as well. Karen played the violin throughout her elementary and high school years. Her school had a strong music program with talented teachers that greatly helped to cultivate Karen’s skills. “One lesson I learned was that it is not just about playing the notes. Technique and skill are required to play well, but you have to play with heart to move the listener” Karen shared. This same crucial lesson carried over into her fiber weaving career as well. “The notes on a staff are very similar to a weaving draft. So, my approach to weaving is to look at the weaving draft, interpret it, and weave with heart.”
Weaving was first introduced into Karen’s life as she was completing her design major in college. She took a weaving course in which she learned to thread a loom, and from here she took the initiative to continue to teach herself the art form moving forward. To this day, the art form remains fresh and the inspiration for new pieces flows even stronger. “I wake up each day with an idea for a garment,” Karen revealed.
These custom pieces are created specifically per client request, and the intricacies and beauty of the garments certainly do not go unnoticed. “My customers have often told me that they get more hugs when they wear my garments! There is something about the color and texture of the fibers that changes how people feel. Must be magic.” There is a true magic to wearable artwork, and The Oregon Weaver takes great pride in creating artistic pieces that not few, but many, will have the opportunity to view. “Each piece is also unique, telling a personalized story through its color, texture, and shape.”
In an old house on the coast of Oregon, the artist both lives and creates her wears. She makes the trek all the way to St. Louis, Missouri for the Historic Shaw Art Fair not only because of her love for the arts, but also her love for the tree-lined streets of Flora, and sense of community in Shaw. Keep an eye out for Karen Gelbard: The Oregon Weaver at the 2017 Historic Shaw Art Fair!