Karen Burke of Bravura Designs: AN UNKNOWING IMPETUS

Karen Burke of Bravura Designs: AN UNKNOWING IMPETUS

January 23, 2018

A Note from Kristin M. Thornton

Jan. 23, 2018

the force that makes something happen or happen more quickly(1).

Since the inception of K.M. Thornton & Co, llc in 2012, there have been a handful of artisans and entrepreneurs who have GREATLY impacted the growth of this site and finited the mission.  This is because they have been sincere in communicating their appreciation of the work necessary involved to authentically tell their stories.  Ultimately, their graciousness has kept my passion ignited to grow the Street to Stable® community and honed the intent to "sustain and preserve the artisans, educators, entrepreneurs and artifacts that have a singular bond: the love of the horse."

Karen Burke of Bravura collection is one of the artisans that motivated me when I was really questioning if the amount of time and finances I was dedicating was truly worth the effort. She sent me the most amazing thank you note the day her story went live and this heartfelt act of kindness resonated with my soul during a time that I was at a tipping point. She was a critical and positive impetus to my continuation of "storytelling", without even knowing her impact.
I find it important not to lose the stories from these influences that have been so imperative in creating the fabric of Street to Stable. Throughout the year, we will continue to share new stories, as well as publish a few of our favorites from the past years to ensure that their legacies perpetuate, even though our publishing format has changed.
A very special thank you to our growing community that continues to fuel my passion to share the benefits of the equestrian way of life we all love so much.


March 2017

By: K.M. Thornton

One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been discovering the incredible talent of artisans. I gravitate towards individuals with passion and creativity. Karen Burke of Bravura collection fits this criteria exactly. When I first saw the branding and intricate detail of her equestrian influenced canvas bucket bag approximately a year ago, I assumed she resided in Great Britain. To my surprise, she not only lives Stateside, but she is close to me in the Pacific Northwest and we share the same undergraduate alma mater (California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo)….what a small world!

Ms. Burke and her collection as she adapts luxurious canvas designs to be used both in the home or as part of her handbag collection under the Bravura Label.

Artisan: Karen Burke

Name of Business: Bravura | Horse & Garden Collection

1) Describe your expertise:
My area of expertise is my attention and obsession to detail. I’m mad about great design, quality of execution and business.

2) What makes your process unique?
On the contrary, my process isn’t unique. I purposely seek out those techniques that have worked for centuries. What is unique is how I combine the old and the new and add my own unique artistic styling. Each of my products are solely designed & handcrafted by me from start to finish.


I’m visual and hands-on, I spend countless hours looking at pictures and perfecting techniques. You might say I experience plenty of error time!

3) What inspires you to create new designs, try different techniques, and/or create different pieces?
Oh my gosh, what doesn’t!!! Every silly thing I look at seems to inspire something. I exhaust my friends. They’re afraid to ask “what’s new?” I’m in constant need of my daily dose of creativity!

If I had to choose one thing that continually inspires me it would have to be our decorative painting business.

I’m drawn to four subjects; Equine, Garden, Decorative Paint & Corgi. Not necessarily in that order. My motto “stay focused” easier said than done.

4) Any other information you would like to share with the Street to Stable community about your craft?
You might ask, what’s up with the British flag? Shaun, my husband, is British. Shaun’s known in the community as “the english guy”. From inception, the flag has been our brand in our Decorative Painting business, Bravura Finishes, established 1989 in Portland, Oregon.

I can’t forget to mention, we have a right royal pair of Pembroke Welsh Corgi’s, Henry & Luna, who both play a vital role in sales.


  • Since 1984 Karen Burke has been a freelance graphic designer. 
  • Raised by a father who is an art dealer and mother who was an elementary school teacher, her exposure to business, art and artisans shaped her career. 
  • She is a graphic design graduate from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo 
  • In 2009 when the decorative painting and design industry took a tumble, her creative juices did not. Karen began designing and handcrafting handbags. Fast forward to 2017 and all systems are back on board! She wears a lot of hats and makes a lot of bags! The hardest part is calling it a day.

instagram: bravurastore instagram: bravurafinishes
Click on “Contact shop owner” at www.bravura.etsy.com

(1) Google Dictionary 



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