Monday, November 8, 2010

Silhouette Artist Extraordinaire

You've all seen them. Those charming black profile cutouts on white backgrounds displayed in glossy oval frames. But did you know silhouettes, as they are called, are a classic old-world art form dating back to the 18th century?
I was recently the lucky recipient of an adorable framed silhouette of my little granddaughter. Once reserved for French aristocracy, silhouette cutting is almost a lost art today, and only a handful of artists still pursue this craft. Patti Pate of White Bear Lake has been cutting silhouettes professionally since 1958. Considered one of America's premier silhouette artists, she is well-known for her accuracy and beautiful detailing. Her silhouettes, with delicate inside cuts, are referred to as the "European embellished style." Coincidentally, Mrs. Pate did a silhouette of me, with my hair in looped braids and bows, over fifty years ago. She did silhouettes of my children in the 1980's. And now we have added one more of her silhouettes to our very special collection.
Mrs. Pate has her subjects pose while watching video tapes. She can also cut a silhouette from a clear profile photograph if you can't make it to her studio. Her silhouettes possess a quaint, old-fashioned quality. Passing down these keepsakes to future generations is a lovely tradition.
You can contact Mrs. Pate's studio for her current schedule, or make an appointment: (651) 653-9014. The silhouettes at our house have become priceless family heirlooms. And I would add that they make wonderful Christmas presents!


  1. Can you imagine the patience one would need to do something that intricate? There's an old silhouette of me as a child and I should see if she did it.

  2. i have four on my walls.
    she was so quick and accurate!

    happy to see that she's still cutting....