Article: Karen Bulow and the TCA Curtains

  • Image of Trans-Canada Air Lines North Star interior

    November, 1950, Between Ourselves (TCA Internal Magazine)

    Seventeen years ago, a young Danish lass, proud owner of one loom and office space in a St. Catherine Street office building in Montreal, started a textiles made-to-order business. She was Karen Bulow, whose name today is a household word throughout Canada, and whose hand-woven ties are sported by many Canadian males of discerning taste.

    At the moment, Karen Bulow, who has parlayed her one loom and an idea that hand-woven ties would sell into a 20-loom business operating out of a three-storey house in downtown Montreal, is producing special hand-woven curtains soon to appear on the windows in all TCA North Star aircraft.

    The fresh-complexioned Dane was approached many months ago by the Company. Something distinctively Canadian in the way of curtains was wanted. She made a study of the North Star’s interior, noting particularly the colours that had been employed in the floor-covering, the upholstery and other interior fixtures, and came up with a design. It incorporated all of these colours. But the texture was not quite right.

    “I submitted several textures and designs before I came up with just what was wanted,” Miss Bulow says. And the final one is being produced to the tune of 3,300 feet.

    “Hand-weaving makes for individuality,” says Miss Bulow, “because for instance in home decoration, the entire colour scheme of a room can be incorporated into the curtains, drapes, or upholstery. And it is no more expensive than good machine-made material. Besides, hand-woven textiles are strong and durable.”

    Ten of the looms in her busy household are involved in the making of the TCA curtains, with each producing about nine yards a day. Each of the looms, hand-made in the Province of Quebec, is manned by a Quebec weaver, recognized as a master at handicraft.

    Karen Bulow tried out 15 different textures and four different designs for TCA before hitting the one that was “just right.” As she describes it: “It is a lightweight, close, soft texture incorporating the colours of the interior of the aircraft into a stripe material.”

    This article originally appeared in the November, 1950 edition of Between Ourselves, the Trans-Canada Air Lines internal magazine.

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