Malla’s parents lived in Kalisz, Poland where her father was the unofficial spokesman of the Jewish community in the 1920s. In order to be granted permission to establish another Community bank many documents had to be completed and sent to Warsaw. All the long, drawn-out official correspondence, communicated over a period of several years, was written by Malla’s mother Trina Lubinsky Blumenkrantz (1890-1952), who had a lovely handwriting. She had learned Hebrew and Yiddish in the home, but was taught how to write Polish, Russian, and German in the secular school system. She also was gifted in drawing, and Malla remembers her romantic illustrations of ladies with large hats.
The bank finally was established by 1930, and the Jewish Community wanted Rabbi Blumenkrantz as its president, but he recognized the impending doom of Polish Jewry and planned to move his family to safety. The community did not want him to go, so in 1931 when he did leave, he had to do so by night, taking the train from the next town’s station. He found work in Switzerland and gradually the whole family joined him there. At that time Malla was a young child. She grew up in Lucerne, where she eventually studied graphic arts at the city’s Kunstgewerbeschule. There she studied calligraphy with Max von Moos, who conveyed his love of lettering to his students. Erich Muller taught and inspired her in drawing. In 1949 Malla was the first woman to be awarded a diploma from the school.
After graduating she left for Israel; before freelancing from 1950 to 1957, Malla worked for a few months for the Tel Aviv design firm, Rothschild and Lippman (the latter, coincidentally the one which produced the ample scripts for the old standard beginner’s Hebrew calligraphy book by F L Toby, The Art of Hebrew Lettering). Mall then married and moved to Chicago, where, in the 1960s, she took courses in life drawing at the Chicago Art Institute. During that time she did no professional or personal artwork, except to teach her children weaving, painting, and how to make linocuts.