Kathleen Hammett was born in Steubenville, Ohio and grew up on a small family farm in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. She attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Hammett began her professional career as a fabric designer for Carlton Woolen Mills in New York City in 1967. She spent a year in Halifax Nova Scotia working at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design before moving to Cleveland where she was an art teacher for the Cleveland Public Schools and later the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. She shared a studio for over 20 years with her brother and fellow artist, Patrick Kelly.