Hey hey! Believe it or not, September is already at an end, and that can only mean one thing: time for another Creative Chat! I've been looking forward to interviewing my good friend Layne for a long time--I even snapped some photos of her in preparation when I visited this summer. Layne is an incredibly talented fiber artist who specializes in macrame. I have one of her gorgeous pieces hanging in my home, and wrote about it here back in June. I loved watching her work during my visit, and I came away with a million questions about macrame. I picked a few to ask her for the interview, but if there's anything you're wondering about that doesn't get answered, feel free to ask below in the comments!
1// Would you please introduce yourself?
HI! I’m Layne. I live in Seattle, WA with my dude, Brandon, and our three cats, Max, Mitzi, and Simon. I spend my time making macrame, reading, decorating, and enjoying the Pacific Northwest.
2// Tell me how you became interested in fiber arts.
Actually, I’ve been into fiber arts since I was a kid. My mom had this great set of 1970’s Better Homes and Gardens crafting books, and I read all of them and taught myself to knit, crochet, tat, weave, embroider, sew, and quilt when I was around 11 or 12. My dad had made lots of macrame plant hangers back in the 70’s, and he showed me several knots here and there, too. I was always crafting in one form or another, but it wasn’t until I discovered the work of Sally England a few years ago that I became obsessed with macrame and abandoned all my other fiber pursuits.
3// You used to make woven wall hangings; what made you make the jump to macrame?
Long, long ago, well, like in 2009, a blogger named Morgan Satterfield turned me on to these giant, shaggy, crazy, woven wall hangings. It was through her blog, The Brick House, that I discovered Don Freedman, Romeo Reyna, Sheila Hicks, and others who wove these wacky creations out of yarn and I was completely smitten. Then shortly after, by crazy coincidence, I was out thrifting and I stumbled upon one of those huge wall hangings for $3.50! I gleefully took it home, studied it, and decided I needed to learn to weave as well. I made several small weavings, and even sold a few on Etsy, and then somewhere along the way I was looking at fiber wall art on a blog and I came across a photo a macrame wall hanging by Sally England. I needed figure out how she made those knots, and just like that, I dropped weaving for macrame. Of course, I still appreciate weaving and love to fill my home with vintage woven wall hangings, but when I feel like making something myself, I find I'm drawn to the art of macrame.
4// What was your learning process?
My dad made lots of macrame back in the day, so when I was a kid, he showed me knots so I could make macrame keychains (because 90’s kids love their keychains). As an adult, I learned more knots by watching YouTube and reading online tutorials. I would keep a practice piece going so I could practice knots and then untie them without using up my precious rope.
5// Who are some of your fiber art heroes? Where do you find inspiration?
It was the incredible Sally England whose work stopped me in my tracks and made me switch fiber hobbies overnight. I love Sally because she is always pushing the craft forward. Her work is sometimes traditional and soft, but other times, it's sculptural and striking and I can’t figure out how she did it to save my life!
Jacqueline Surdell is another fiber artist who constantly amazes me. She is an MFA student in the field of Fiber and Material Studies, which just blows my mind, and her fiber sculptures are stunning and unlike anything else I’ve seen in fiber art. I would love to see one of her installations in person.
Emily Katz is another one of my favorites. While her wall hangings are delicate and beautiful, she doesn’t stop at wall hangings. She’s designed macrame lanterns, plant hangers, cots, a macrame tent, and she even did a fabulous macrame ceiling installation at a spa in Portland recently. Since I’m in Seattle, I was able to drive down to Portland this summer for one of her macrame workshops, and it was so exciting to meet her, hear her share her macrame story, and learn some new tricks.
6//What is it about macrame that draws you to it over other types of creativity?
Macrame challenges my brain. When I see a knot that I don’t recognize, or a combination of knots that I’ve never considered before, I feel an intense need to figure it out for myself. I love how one macrame knot can be used in so many different ways to create so many different effects. It just never gets old! Plus, I find macrame incredibly beautiful, so even if I don’t push the envelope in the macrame world, I still end up with something pretty to display in my own home.
7// If someone was interested in exploring fiber arts as a means of creative expression, where should they start?
Youtube. Seriously! Reform Fibers and Macrame School have amazing collections of videos teaching everything from simple knots to complex patterns. Another great resource for easy-to-follow macrame tutorials is Free-Macrame-Patterns.com, although their site looks like it hasn’t been redesigned since 1995. The Macrame Pattern Book is my top pick for a complete guide in print.
8// When you sit down to make a piece, what does your process look like? Do you have it all planned out in your head, or do you experiment as you go?
A little of both! The thing about macrame is that you have to start at the top and work your way down, and you need to have at least a rough idea of how much rope you’ll need, so it’s good to have a vague plan to start with. But sometimes when I get going on a piece, I realize there’s a better way of doing something, or my idea isn’t working according to the plan, so I don’t hesitate to go off in another direction. I also change my mind a lot. My husband says I spend more time untying knots than I do tying them.
9// You also own an Etsy shop where you sell your beautiful pieces. Tell me more about Viola and what led you to turn your creativity into a source of income.
Viola, which is what I call my Etsy shop, basically started because rope and yarn are expensive! It takes a lot of rope to make one piece, and when I was weaving, I quickly realized there is a big difference between quality, hand spun wool yarn and the acrylic stuff at Hobby Lobby. After a while, it became clear that my fiber hobby was too expensive to justify in the budget. I got the idea to sell my work on Etsy, and it has completely exceeded my expectations! I’m not getting rich, but every penny I make I put back into my shop by upgrading my supplies and trying new sizes of rope. My shop also paid for my Emily Katz workshop and for more macrame books, purchased on Etsy of course. Now I can endlessly create without fear of using up all my rope, which in turn, makes me feel much more free to be creative.
10// If you could go back in time to when you first began creating, what advice would you give yourself
Layne, you’re teaching yourself the square knot backwards. The knot ends up the same, but it’s going to become a habit you’ll never be able to break.
11//What are you most proud of in your creative journey?
Overcoming my self-consciousness and sharing my art with others was so scary, but so worth it. It has been quite exhilarating to sell my work and see it displayed proudly in beautiful homes all over the country (and in Australia and the Dominican Republic!). My fiber journey has connected me to new friends, interesting experiences, and that wonderful feeling you get when you let yourself identify as an artist.
Thanks for letting me bombard you with questions, Layne!