Fine Southern Lady
Patricia Ramos Dorfmueller, of Metamora, Indiana, has been an
artist for some 72 years. During that time she has worked in many
mediums and in numerous settings. However, her major artistic
production may prove to be her four children. As any mother would
attest, rearing three sons and a daughter is no small feat.
But Pat, while doing that, also managed to produce four siblings
who have developed their own artistic talents, three of them as
In 1947, Pat began her commercial career in St. Louis with the
May Company in retail advertising. During 20 years in Cincinnati,
she continued doing drawings for Lazarus, Elder Bearman, and Mabley
and Carew. Designs reflecting Pat’s unique style appeared in fashion
sections of nationally known papers and magazines. Greeting cards
provided a second commercial outlet for her creativity.
Her beautiful illustrations appeared on cards produced by
Gibson Greeting Card Co. and by other companies, both in the U.S.
and overseas. Not only has Pat practiced her art, but she also
has shared her experience and talents with many fine young artists.
While living in Cincinnati, she taught at Gebharts Ohio
Graphics, Southern Ohio College, and Vogue Fashion College for Women.
But of all these pursuits, probably of more interest to the
First Cuts reader is that Pat has devoted most of the past 30
years to cutting silhouettes. She was initially taught the
technique by silhouette artist Henry Niles, whose encouragement
and instruction she credits with starting her silhouette career.
Years ago, Pat was selling her pastels at a show when Niles
stopped by her booth. He told her if she could spend five minutes
with him, he would change her life. He stood in front of her,
cut her silhouette, handed her his scissors, and said, “Cut.”
She did, and her life was changed. She now cuts over 10,000
silhouette portraits per year, each done in a few seconds
simply with a pair of common scissors. She works with schools,
professional organizations, civic and social clubs, and,
of course, individuals.
Rita Dorfmueller Bishop began cutting silhouettes when she
was 14 years old. The youngest child, Rita helped with her
mother during holidays and summers. By the time she was 18,
she had worked in over 14 states. Rita cut silhouettes in
department stores, banks, and fairs; by age 19 she had her
When Rita graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in
Textile Design in 1983, she had been working 9 years as a
silhouette artist. In fact, she had used that skill to help
pay her tuition there. In 1984, Rita started her own business
designing and producing jewelry in Alaska.
Child on Bed, Rita Bishop
Two Silhouettes, Rita Bishop
For the past 19 years, Rita and her husband Bill have worked
together as jewelers for their own company,
Fishing for Gold
in Fairbanks. They sell beautiful gold
nugget jewelry to gift shops all over Alaska. Rita has not
forgotten her mother’s legacy, however, and continues to cut
silhouettes in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Kodiak, Ketchikan,
Wasilla, and other Alaskan cities. To her knowledge,
she is the only silhouette artist practicing in Alaska.
Unlike his sister, David Dorfmueller of Huntsville, Alabama,
holds an engineering degree. He began experimenting with
paper cutting about ten years ago as a hobby, taking a break
from his career in software development and consulting.
At first, David copied other artists’ work to begin
understanding the art form but also for its therapeutic value.
After a few years, he started to do variations on others’
work and then his own unique creations. Most of David’s
cuttings render architecture, children, or abstract designs.
Over the years, like his mother and siblings, David has
developed a love for the art form. While his current job
takes him all over the U.S., he continues to do new paper
cuttings in his spare time.
Old Metamora Mill, David Dorfmueller
Ballet, Mark Dorfmueller
Although Pat’s second son, Mark Dorfmueller, holds two
psychology degrees, he has had a very successful career in
information technology. However, Mark, who lives in Mason,
Ohio, had always loved art and had dabbled in different
media since he was a child. As he explained, “We were
always surrounded by artistic creativity at home.”
In particular, Mark had always admired the Impressionists
and had been interested in Pointillism. Then, several
years ago, when his younger daughter began ballet,
he decided the ballet art form would really fit very
nicely as a subject for silhouettes. “Knowing Mom and
Rita were silhouette artists, I asked them to teach me.”
Most of Mark’s subjects involve either ballet, because
of its poetic movement, or the garden, because of the
flowers’ flowing lines.
Dan Dorfmueller, Pat’s eldest son, lives in Lebanon, Ohio.
Dan is the only sibling who does not cut silhouettes,
but of all the Pat’s children, he may have engaged in more
different artistic efforts. An architect by education and
contractor by profession, Dan has been a woodcarver,
stained-glass maker, building designer, and photographer,
among other things. He is currently experimenting with
Day Lilly, Dan Dorfmueller
Pat Ramos Cutting
With a long and varied career, Pat has much to be proud of.
The cutting of 10,000 silhouettes a year would alone mean
she had helped preserve that beautiful but dying art.
But, with children spread from Alaska to Alabama-—not to
mention grandchildren and great-grandchildren-—her personal
influence in the artistic community has extended far beyond
where she began in Granite City. And, although she is pleased
to have practiced her art all these years, Pat has concluded
that “Having all four of my children find pleasure in the
Arts is, I think, my greatest achievement.”