The Hive: The Silk Road

Kathy Cartier creates artful scarves—each one has a story.

Artist Kathy Cartier’s collection of more than 100 silks encompasses five decades of fabric sleuthing. As she digs through the organized chaos of her Heber studio to find a few to combine into one of her signature wearable art scarves, she says many of her silks have stories to tell.

There’s the gold brocade silk from a trip to Hong Kong in 1985; Cartier is down to less than a yard, so she’s very careful how she uses it. The blue and purple silk designed by Australian John Kaldor has a hand-painted look and reminds her of the fabulous fabric stores she’d frequent in Los Angeles during the ‘70s. And over there is a gorgeous silk salvaged more recently from a vintage blouse found in Park City.

When sewing each unique scarf, Cartier uses a style book, which she created when she first began making scarves in 2004. It gives her a reference in terms of color palette and concept as she puts together a dozen or so silk pieces to create one new piece. With so many silks to choose from, and with Cartier’s quirky aesthetic at play, no two scarves are ever the same.

Every corner of the studio is piled high with rolls of silks, scraps and miscellany. And this is just a part of her ever-growing collection. Her larger 900-square-foot studio is a fabrics library with myriad swatches from a career in fabric arts. But she’s always drawn back to the scarves, made exclusively with silk.

“I love the feel of silk, the ease of how it moves and drapes,” Cartier says. “There’s a certain vitality to it—what it looks like on people and how much they enjoy it.”

The life of a wearable piece of art has a dynamic life after it leaves her studio. That is to say that it lives out in the world.

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— written by: Austen Diamond

Salt Lake Magazine
Salt Lake Magazine
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