About the Designer

Pamela Burkland, Designer

The Belgian Sisters of the Sacred Heart considered it essential to the education of any young lady that she learn to speak French, write letters in perfect penmanship, curtsy, and execute small French sewing stitches.  Pamela Burkland, Recherche’s designer, fourth grader at Sacred Hearts Academy in Honolulu, fell in love with the art of fine hand-sewing.

During the era of “Flower Power,” Pamela turned psychedelic fabric into trippy dresses and bell-bottoms for The Sunshine Company in Portland, Oregon, a very small shop in Old Town with a very short history. Children came along and with them the challenge of creating little tiny bell-bottoms out of recycled legs of adult jeans and little flowered shirts and dresses.

Recherche began with a pile of antique lace trims and a family legacy of tattered Victorian baby clothes too beautiful to be thrown away. Out of these came small potpourri bags that initially sold at a shop on S.E. Hawthorne. Requests, ideas, gifts of used fabric, all suggested many kinds of bags, and Pamela created many of them and even sold some.  The defining moment was a gift from an quilter friend of six black antique Japanese Obis, uncut.  For months the bag of Japanese Obis sat in a corner of the dining room until one day Pamela started folding them and the Obi Bag was born.

Living in her Victorian home in the West Clinton neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, Pamela has continued since 2005, to create beautiful bags.  Set up in her basement studio, she has a small window looking out onto the vegetable garden where frequent visiting squirrels, kitties and birds provide delight and entertainment.  A typical day means two to three hours in the studio followed by several hours of hand-sewing, photographing work, bringing bags into inventory, and eventual uploading to this website.  As bags sell at shows, in shops, or on-line, the website is kept current, with new bags added about every ten days to two weeks.

For Pamela, hand-sewing is mindfulness.  Using vintage and antique items hand-stitched into something new, is an act of meditation, of reverence for the earth, and an act of joy in creating a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art.