Germantown tilemaker talks about ‘endlessly challenging’ career path

Karen Singer still goes back to her old high-school sketchbook to find threads of ideas that she uses in her creations today.

As the owner of Karen Singer Tileworks for 21 years, Singer is inspired by life itself.

Singer and her staff have created works of art out of ceramic tile inside their East Church Lane studio. Projects have ranged from creating plaques and awards to large-scale murals that can be seen both inside and outside of homes and businesses.

“I love cities,” she said recently. “I love different places and the way people remember places that are important to them.”

Slow economy has hurt

However, the recent recession has translated into less than plentiful business opportunities for Singer.

“It’s not like I’m making a fortune,” she said. “It’s endlessly challenging. No two days are the same. It’s no easy way to make a living but no one ever told me it would be easy.”

As a result, Singer decided to explore different venues, like hosting Monday-evening workshops to teach the art of creating tileworks.

Art as a soothing agent

During the 17 years she has worked as Singer’s general manager, Lisa Longo has been able to see the calming effects handling clay can have on people.

“People get so lost when their touching clay. It’s an amazing phenomenon,” Longo said. “Nobody’s anxious. You can see all their worries go away.”

Singer and her staff put in countless hours of hard work to ensure that they have created exactly what their clients ordered. However, she said the company hopes to explore even bigger business opportunities.

“It’s not always about the money. We work with the clients until its perfect. We love what we do,” Longo said. “It’s really rewarding.”

Monet Tucker is a student at Temple University. Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a NewsWorks content partner, is an initiative of the Temple Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

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