Karen Finch

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Karen Finch

her portrait
in 2014
Karen Finch

8 May 1921
Died15 April 2018 (aged 96)
  • master weaver
  • conservator
  • educator
Years active1946–2018
Spouse(s)Norman Finch
WebsiteKaren Finch Textiles

Karen Solveig Sinding Møller Finch OBE (8 May 1921 – 15 April 2018) was a Danish-born British master weaver, conservator and educator who was the founder of the Textile Conservation Centre.[1]


Karen Finch was born in May 1921 on a farm in Rødding in Denmark to Soren Møller and Ellen Sinding. She left the farm to study art in Copenhagen under Gerda Henning and Kaare Klint. She witnessed the occupation of her country and moved to England after she married Norman Finch in 1946.[2]

After working as a weaver and conservator for the Royal School of Needlework and the Victoria and Albert Museum she set up her own home-based studio in Acton in 1959. She had to fold her bed to make room for her work and the golden crown of Haile Selassie was steamed on the top of her bathroom cupboard. She went on to work on valuable textiles including items owned by Royal Pretender Bonnie Prince Charlie and film star Marlene Dietrich.[3]

Encouraged by Stella Mary Newton,[4] in 1975 Finch founded the Textile Conservation Centre at Hampton Court Palace to conserve textiles professionally.[2] She was appointed OBE in the following year. She retired in 1986 but continued to travel and lecture about textiles. In 1998 the TCC moved to a purpose-built textile conservation centre in Winchester under the auspices of Southampton University. It continued as a centre of excellence until 2009. When the centre closed it was re-formed at the University of Glasgow.[2]

She published many articles and two books on conservation of textiles: Caring for Textiles in 1977,[5] and The Care and Preservation of Textiles with Greta Putnam in 1985.[6] In November 2015, she was awarded the Balfour of Burleigh Tercentenary Prize for Exceptional Achievement in Crafts.


Finch's work continues at the textile centre at the University of Glasgow.[7] The Textile Conservation Foundation named a bursary in her honour and a prize to celebrate the founding of the TCC.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Textile Conservation Centre Legacy". Textile Conversation Centre.
  2. ^ a b c Sykas, Philip (2018-05-16). "Karen Finch obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  3. ^ "Karen Finch obituary". The Times. 2018-06-21. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  4. ^ Jane Bridgeman, Stella Mary Newton (obituary), The Independent, 25 May 2001
  5. ^ Finch, Karen (1977). Caring for Textiles. ISBN 0214203964.
  6. ^ Karen Finch; Greta Putnam (1991). The Care & Preservation of Textiles. LACIS. ISBN 978-0-916896-37-9.
  7. ^ "University of Glasgow - Schools - School of Culture & Creative Arts - Research - Art History Research - Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History". www.gla.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-07-16.