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Meet The Maker: Karen Tenney

Woman standing against red background.

We first met Karen Tenney during a sleepless midwinter weekend in 2008, when we were frantically wrapping soap with frigidly numb fingers. She walked through the door with a hot baking dish of homemade apple cake and a few samples of her beautiful handwoven designs. It was love at first sight. (Both the cake and the linens.) A few days later we toured her beautiful big Victorian home where she showed us her weaving studio with all her designs, and we knew we’d be working together forever. Her creativity is boundless, as evidenced by the limited edition masterpieces she creates for us each and every season.

Technically we suppose Karen is officially “Beekman 1802 Artisan #2.” (Soapmaker Deb is the first.) But we’re proud to give her the title of “one of our first local friends.”

Read more about her and be sure to check out the items Karen Tenney weaves exclusively for Beekman 1802

Where do you live? Town of Seward, New York

The back of a loom.

Who’s in your family? Married to Micheal Domanski for two score years. Amazing granddaughter and her family live next door, creating a beautiful multi-generational neighborhood. Four cats, 4 hens, and one rooster who takes his job very seriously.

How long have you been practicing your craft?  I have been weaving for about 15 years; marketing my products for 10 years. 

Can you describe the moment you first discovered your passion for your craft?  I had been doing handwork since I was a child….the usual knitting, crocheting, quilting, embroidery….and was never closely exposed to weaving until the late 1990s. My then-young daughter was interested in a 4-H club focused on the fiber arts of spinning and weaving, and I accompanied her to the meetings. Well! Apparently, that was what I had been waiting for. I took a short series of classes, purchased my first loom, and started weaving what has become miles of fabric. Since then, I have learned that my Tenney ancestors who arrived on this continent in 1638 were weavers from Rowley Manor in England.  

As an artisan, your hands are your most important tool. Do you have any special regime for taking care of them? I am very mindful of the body mechanics of weaving and take care to use my hands carefully, and efficiently, while minimizing the risks of repetitive motions. And, lots of lotion.  

The front of a loom.

f you could hold the hands of any person, living or dead, who would it be? My mother. Because the longer I live, the more I realize there are so many questions I never thought to ask her. 

What’s your favorite item that you make for Beekman 1802, and why? My current favorite item I make for Beekman 1802 is the new “Keeps on Ticking” Dish Towel. It’s important to treat one’s self to lovely tools for even mundane tasks like drying dishes.  

What’s your favorite item on Beekman 1802 that’s not one of your own, and why? My favorite item in the shop/online is the exquisite ceramic fallen leaf.  Each one is a fine reminder of the real world outside our doors and of the careful work of the potter who makes each one.  

What’s your advice for people who want to follow their passion like you do? Find time….MAKE time to do what you love. Be open to whatever opportunities present themselves to you. Share your passion, joy, and the things you make with the people you love.   

If people want to find out more about your work or contact you, where can they look? I sell other lines of my handwoven items at McGillycuddy’s Naturals in Sharon Springs, or from my studio. Email:  ktweaver48@gmail.com

Check out the items Karen Tenney weaves exclusively for Beekman 1802: Click here

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