Being a dyer means being part chemist, part artist, and part mad scientist, and for the past twelve years, that's been Kate's approach to making silks in her East Central Minnesota home. Even after making thousands of pieces, the only thing she knows to be guaranteed is that no two days and no two pieces will ever be alike. The variables in dyeing are many and despite the best attempts to control the environment, things such as the age of the dye, the temperature of the water, and the saturation of the silk can mean the difference between something working out beautifully one day and far less nicely the next.
Lady of the Lake Silks is the epitome of a cottage industry. Kate's studio is better known
as her kitchen, and she is responsible for all aspects of her business (while also working her full time job). She has a few workers who help with the dyeing process when they can and several
other essential minions who help sell the silk at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee.
Kate is a master dyer, in both the Medieval and the Western sense. If we follow Malcolm Gladwell's widely accepted rule of thumb that to qualify as a master (of anything) one must put in 10.000 hours of study, Kate's earned her stripes. Under the Medieval definition of master (one with proven skill, who can play politic, and who has his/her own shop), Kate qualifies there too. Despite her experience, she's well aware of just how much more there is to learn and welcomes opportunities to expand her engagement with her art form. She's pleased to have her work living in 47 states, 29 countries, and 6 continents. Another benchmark she's proud of is that her business has grown strong enough that she can work directly with a factory in Sichuan Province, China, to produces high-quality white habotai silk specifically for her needs.
In addition to making her signature ombre and mottled silks, Kate also has experience creating more intricate painted silks using a serti-technique. She also has experience with batik and has studied fabric marbling. Most recently Kate has begun to make botanical prints in which leaves are used to make intricate imprints on silk. Plans are in the works to offer more of these intricate pieces in the near future.