Textile Adoration//Santa Fe Obsession//Getting To Know Katherine Schilke

On my latest New Mexico trip  I had the pleasure of meeting a very very unique brilliant woman at a trunk show. Loved getting to know her better over drinks and we have stayed in touch ever since. I was so impressed with her vintage indigo pieces! They are breath taking! I also love how she has found her place on this earth. I know I am not where I am supposed to be here in Tulsa and I am slowly suffocating. I am so intrigued by people who just get up and move and when they land in the place they are suppose to land...you can see the happiness exude from every area of them!  I am ready to find that place that ignites my soul. Katherine and I share a love for Santa Fe, cooking, hosting dinner parties, beautiful cocktails, and marching to the beat of our own drum. I was so happy she took my interview even though she was facing so many critical deadlines with projects for her clients!

Originally from Indianapolis Indiana, she moved to Vail, Colorado in the early 80's. Repeated visits to New Mexico enchanted her and she loves the dryer climate. (She explained Vail is a very small narrow valley and you never see a sunrise or a sunset. You just know it happens because the light changes a little bit.)  It became very clear that Santa Fe, New Mexico  was to be her destined home. She moved to Taos in 1996 where she had friends living so it just made sense and then moved to Santa Fe in 2006. Moving west also rekindled her interest for Western History and the mountain men and women era of the 1830. Participating in these re-enactments she created her costume and accessories for her (look) of the period. This new skills set of working with leather and other natural materials helped her to develop specific techniques and the eye for unusual details. Totally self-taught in several disciplines: bead work, leather work, costume design, painting and cooking, her exploration into the history of her environment and community has lead to developing a fantastic line of handbags and totes with a decidedly Southwestern feel. Scouring local flea markets and cultivating other sources for retired Ethnic and Navajo textiles, as well as horse tack and all kinds of bits and pieces, “bling“, she calls it; she has created Ooo So Santa Fe. Each bag is one of a kind using every inch of the textiles and every scrap of leather; a functional work of art. She also does so much more! So grab a margarita and put your feet up and get to know my friend Katherine! 

Katherine Interview:

-So Katherine...tell me everything that you do with your business? Or business's rather?!

Mistress of many mistress of none. I am an artist and a crafter. I make things. I have craft ADD. I work with my hands and have all of my life. 
Ooo So Santa Fe...This is my business where I make handbags and totes out of Navajo rugs and blankets. I made over 450 bags to date! In August of 2016 Ooo So Santa Fe will be 5 years old!

Lazy cat assistant named CB!

Lazy cat assistant named CB!

Rich Hippy Chick  will be two years old in October of this month. It is more of a boho bohemian style. I like the look of the handbags, fashion, and home goods using vintage textiles from around the world that have an ethnic vibe. 

Santa Fe Scarf Co...is 15 months old and features hand- made fashion and home goods using vintage indigo from Mali Africa, Japan, Laos, but mostly from Mali. I love recycling vintage indigo fabrics from all over the world!

-How would you describe your personal sense of style?

I am not "matchie-matchie". I like thinking out of the box but I'm not overtly out of the box when you see me.I'm not flashy in my dress I just wear what I have. I tend to be "flashy" with my accessories,handbags, scarves and shawls. I wear what I make but I don't make clothing. I never liked doing that as I find it extremely boring. I get people asking me all the time if I can make them a skirt or a blouse or dress and I just say I'm not interested. I have actually forgotten how to do most of that. I’m sure I could figure it out but that is just not my bag. I do like making costumes for theater or fancy dress, but I haven't done that since I lived in Vail,Co

-You seem to be incredibly passionate about Santa Fe? Why do you love it so much?

I tend to be incredibly passionate about anywhere I live or anything I do, except where it is humid. I just can't tolerate humidity as I find it oppressive.(See, she is a girl after my very own heart) I love the dry climate in Santa Fe and the horizons. And I love being close to my friends. Cooking, entertaining and sharing wine with friends is what I can get passionate about.I worked for a while in a fine wine and spirits store and learned a lot, met a lot of really great people of like mind and like to share what I have learned with friends and family. My favorite place to hang out in the summer is my garden with friends in the evening with good wine and good eats. I don't drink domestic wine. I drink only French, Spanish or Portuguese wines. I am not a wine snob but more of a selective wine drinker. A group of fellow chefs and I have movie night once a week and we share the cooking duties. Some times the movie will have a theme or based in a certain region of the world and then we sometimes have corresponding foods and/or drinks. I think the best example would be The Grand Budapest Hotel. I made Hungarian Goulash and it was simply the best meal!

-What are your fave must do's in Santa Fe?

Museums. Exploring by walking around the city as it is very pedestrian friendly and very easy to navigate. Dining, everyone who has ever been to Santa Fe have their own "Pilgrimage sites", where they get their fave green chili and  culinary fix when they come here! Me, I live here so I can get my fix any time. I just open my own freezer and use what Green chilies I put up from the previous fall.But I do recommend ....
Tune up Cafe
Clafoutis .... French
Chez Mamou also French

La Boca for a Tapas lunch the best deal in town. Great wine list.
Santa Fe Bites the old Bobcat Bites.
Radish and Rye (serves dinner only)
Bouche(serves dinner only)
The dining room at the La Fonda hotel but cant remember the name. And Rio Chama for the  prime rib. Great bar food. 


My house,but if I have to go out I only go to the Santa Fe Spirits tasting room.The St Francis hotel has a good bartenders and great cocktails! If you want a CRUSH bar scene, Cowgirl is the ticket to punch!!

-If you didn't live in Santa Fe where would you live?

Nowhere. I am just fine here...

-I am incredibly drawn to the vintage indigo shawls....so much attention and detail goes into each piece? Walk me through the process from beginning to finish? How long does it take you to do each one?

I can't explain it. It is not like making cookies or a Thanksgiving meal so there is no recipe and no pattern. They truly come from an organic source of inspiration. Same with my Navajo bags and Totes! The materials inform me what I can do with them how far I can push them. As far as how long they take, I don't know. It is all a hand stitching style called Boro stitching! If I truly were to keep track of my time I spend making theses shawls I would probably quit making them. But if I were to put a number of hours on this last batch of shawls I made, I would say close to 50 to 60 hrs each!

Model: Nelly Joy

Model: Nelly Joy

(A bit about BORO stitching and repairing :There are kimonos and other clothing, futon covers and weavings, painted and indigo-dyed textiles beautifully worn with use, layered over time with careful repairs of patches and stitches. The repaired textiles with many patches and stitches are called boro, or ragged, and are often built up of many layers of stitched-together cloth and scattered patches as needed. At the time of repair they were not meant to be an aesthetic enhancement, but purely functional and even hidden.)

-Love the table runners too, tell me about those? The vintage indigo headboard you created? Whoa! Where did you get the inspiration for this?
I'm making a line of home goods that include the table runners, apron, and pillows sachets with lavender French lavender. The headboard is a covered salvaged headboard frame. The base of it is a French linen burlap, so it's kind of heavy and course and then that's an entire vintage Mali indigo all hand sewn.  I made it for my studio show last Aug 2015. This August I will be having my studio show again and it will be by 4th annual show, which is exciting. I usually invite other Artisans to participate. This year I have two women who were invited that are mavericks in their own right in the boutique fashion world who will be joining me. Gilda Baker who owns Gilda's in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a collection of jewelry that she creates that is very very fashion-forward made of exquisite pave diamonds and bone and horn and just cool stuff. The other is Ann Lawrence of The Anne Lawrence collection. She is the queen of textiles and beautiful antique accessories and has been the supplier to many of the major fashion houses.  I will be adding a few new items to my repertoire for the Home Goods. They are in process of being developed and made so I don't have any pictures at this time but am really excited. 

-What inspires you Katherine?

Everything inspires me. Imagery I see on the Internet of things I see people wearing in the streets just a never-ending rolling Rolodex of ideas floating in my head. I may find a piece of fabric a fragment of something that I've held onto for years and I've run across again it and boom it becomes an element in something that I'm doing. Sometimes I just have to stop and take a breath for fear that I my brain will literally explode. What has come to my attention most recently is how much stuff we all have.Things that we buy either paying very high prices for or buying at bargain basement pricing or we find it at a yard sell or at the flea market. We are inspired to carry it, wear it, and flaunt it for a month or two. Then it just goes back to the back corner of the closet and just lies there and collects spiders and dust. This past winter it was brought to my attention that someone had seen a Louie Vuitton bag altered. So I looked into it saw what they were doing thought it was interesting but didn't really get inspired by the leather that was being used so I started using the type of leather I use.  I did two personal bags that I had and immediately sold them. I decided that I don't really want to buy and own used Louie Vuitton bags to do Santa FIZE. I would much rather have clients send me their bag. I then just charge them a fee to add my spin to them. Then I started branching out into other bags. Looking in my own closet I have really great Liz Claiborne black leather bag, I just loved that bag. But it just wasn't swinging it so I decided to add tons of fringe super long to it and it looks like a completely different creature. So that's my newest inspiration. 

The Wretched Excess line of handbags that I make all from recycled leather I gather from the local upholstery shops scraps if they have left over from upholstering couches and footstools and what not. I designed a very organic looking flat bag with tons of fringe. I add Baubles, trinkets and charms from my own collection of things I have gathered. But then I tell my customers if they want to send me their own Wretched Excess that lost earring that they kept the broken necklace the ring they don't wear anymore though just the things that we collect and keeping her jewelry boxes in our catch all drawers that just tend to collect dust. Send it to me and the bag becomes their own personalized charm bag. So recycling all the stuff yet again...

-When you have off days where you do not quite feel like working. (Home based business is hard sometimes) what playlist gets you pumped to keep going?

No days off here. When I am out of the studio physically I am never out mentally.I am always designing in my head and I have the ability to visualize in 3 dimension. I never sketch anything. It's always sketched in my brain,which is kind of why my brain will explode if I don't keep doing something like cooking or gardening, watching marathons of TV shows on YouTube or Netflix. But even then I seem to be always be hand stitching something or cutting fringe especially while listening/watching TV. I do a lot of my social net working when out of the studio. For music I love House music, European or NYC based. That keeps me going!

-I met you at a trunk show in Santa Fe. It seemed incredibly successful and something I see you doing quite frequently. What tips can you share for a successful show? What kind of businesses do you look for when partnering for a trunk show? Their responsibilities? Your responsibilities?

Actually I've only done a few trunk shows and they work well for me. I don't really search them out, they just kind of happened. I tend to do more flea market venues, then of course my own Studio show which is quite successful for me because I've built up my clientele base over the years and I have really solid collectors. And sell a lot via social media, especially instagram!

I had some one say my making of handbags from Navajo weavings appeared to be a HOBBY to her. I have made over 425 Navajo weaving handbags and totes in over 4 years. And close to 200 bags from leather and other textiles from around the world and oh by the way they are all sold and from stores in Europe and here in the USA . NOT A HOBBY. Hobbies: Don’t have any and what I do with my hands has never been considered a hobby by my collectors but works of art.

-I see from your insta, you love cooking! What are some of your fave things to make?
Anything on a grill even in winter! I am a carnivore and do like my veggies. I do like to entertain. But really prefer to small groups. On Memorial day I am not cooking but providing the space for the meal. 12 people and I kinda got roped in. It started to be for just 4 people but the person working the food started inviting people so it has kinda exploded but all is good! I am just glad I only have to get the garden ready and provide a clean bathroom  ! It's going to be a great time.

-What is next for  Katherine?
Ooo So Santa Fe:
Camo and Navajo rugs in bags and totes.

For the Studio show in August: (Santa Fe Scarf co)
Flea market presence for the summer with indigo for sale and my serapes and shawls and home goods. There will also be pillows, table runners and aprons.

Rich Hippy Chick: More exotic boho home goods and silver jewelry with antique trade beads available at the Summer flea market! So come see me.

Omg ! You guys. Send in your own bags and have her create something new and fabulous ! She ships all over the world with all three companies. I am so excited to order my very own indigo shawl when I go to Santa Fe in September !!!!!!!!  Love love love entrepreneurs so much. 

(all photography is Katherine's )