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Speaker Series :: Wild Silk: Tasar (Tussah), Muga and Eri :: Karen Selk

Karen Selk will be presenting her story of learning about wild silk and the people who rear and care for the silkworms and make the silk. This event is free for EAC/ACB members.

Members, log in to My EAC/Mon ACB, after April 1, to register for this Karen’s presentation on Saturday, May 4, 2024.


Karen was born in Wisconsin in a farming community and studied Chinese language and literature at university. She immigrated to western Canada in the early 1970s and has made her home on Salt Spring Island since 2000. She and her husband, Terry Nelson, founded Treenway Silks, a silk fibre and yarn import/export company, in 1978.  As managing director of Treenway Silks for over 30 years, she wrote an educational newsletter, produced an award-winning video, published an educational poster explaining the lifecycle of the silkworm, and designed and developed new yarns, fibre kits, and colour palettes. She used all their products to create projects to inspire their customers.

Karen’s quest to understand all aspects of silk, her desire to better serve Treenway’s customers, and her curiosity took her on the first of many journeys to Asia starting in 1986.  With a camera and journal, each expedition was focused on researching the rich history and heritage of silk production and traditions.  A deep respect for the land and people who make the textiles and prodding from her friend in India inspired Karen to lead many textile tours through India and Laos.

She began teaching weaving classes in yarn shops in Victoria, BC. She developed several workshops which led her further afield throughout Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and India, sharing her knowledge of weaving and silk.

With this focused yet varied background, Karen has written over 40 articles about weaving, silk fusion, the production of traditional textiles in Asian villages, the raising of silkworms and embellishing styles.

The business has been passed on, so semi-retirement sees Karen dividing her time between the studio and their partially self-sufficient garden.  Her deep connection to the natural world, her organic garden and her vast knowledge of world textiles inform her work.

Karen is currently represented by Gallery 8 on Salt Spring Island and continues to participate in group shows through the Surface Design Association, Textile Society of America, Island Textile Artists, the Studio Art Quilts Association and Salt Spring Island Weavers and Spinners.

You can find Karen at her website, www.karenselk.com.


May 4
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT
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