We can’t think of a more on-the-freakin-nose partnering than the gorgeous artist and designer Emily Katz photographed in her warmly stunning PNW home in ARQ. Handwork, nature, and connection infuse her environment, motivations, and thought processes. We are so delighted to share her frank words about travel, art, cooking, and even money (THANK YOU EMILY) and think you’ll enjoy this delicious read as much as we do!
We know that your first projects with macrame were creating plant hangers with your mother. We are so taken with how a beautifully knotted hanger homes a beloved plant. Do you have a passion for plants or are you more inspired by the actual vessels that hold them?
I LOVE plants. My husband and I have over 100 in our home. We have a south facing window in our kitchen with a shelf that dissects the glass where a row of orchids are about to bloom again. They were always a mystery to me, until we found the perfect location. For our wedding last year, the florist bought an orchid plant and made a cutting to put in my bouquet. The day after the event, my husband saved the sad bloomless plant from a compost pile and now it is about to bloom again!
I am not much of a gardener, but I aspire to be. There is a hummingbird who has been stopping by our front window every morning. We have a sugar feeder out there for him, but his ruby throated flight makes me want to plant special outdoor flowers for him.
You’ve spoken often about your love of travel. How do your journeys inspire your macrame?
My journeys inspire everything I do. How I live, how I talk, what I like to cook, what I care about...I love traveling to places where there is a rich textile and craft culture. Japan, Guatemala, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey. Visiting these places and learning from the artists and craftspeople who support their local economies through hand craft always inspires my work and process. Plus, I have to take a few things home with me to remember :)
I also learned a lot about materials on these trips, and have been inspired by fine craftsmanship and materials available. It is part of what inspired me to grow my company, Modern Macramé into the craft supply store that it is becoming. Also, we launched a series of patterns inspired by my travels. The Arcosanti Wall Hanging, The Bermuda Portal, and the Guatemala Waves pattern. These are all DIY patterns that you can learn to make yourself with our easy instructions and rope.
It’s commonly said that humans learn by teaching. Is there anything unexpected that you have learned by teaching others the art of macrame?
Discovering how much I love teaching and sharing this craft was such an unexpected joy. It was never in my plan to be a teacher or leader of this movement. It chose me. Creating the opportunity to deeply connect with people in all stages of their lives and guide them towards the treasure of crafting something beautiful with their hands is the best feeling. Yes, it is also a part of my business, and a way that we make money. The $ part needs to be acknowledged, especially as women in business, I think talking about money should be more out in the open. Though, I sometimes wish could do it for free, as the connection truly fills my soul with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.
We know that you have a passion for cooking and it made us wonder if you have discovered any surprising commonalities between the art you make in the kitchen and macrame?
Actually yes. My style of cooking is: check out what is in the fridge, cupboard, pantry, and whip something up with no recipe or real plan. I taste as I go. I step back from my work and check to see if it feels right. Sometimes I adjust according to how I feel. Or add something new that might be unexpected. I am a terrible baker, as I never weigh or measure properly. I am a playful and intuitive cook, and it is one of my deepest passions.
With macramé, I am also moved to create in a similarly whimsical way. I am not structured. I don't follow patterns or measure my rope before I get started (not usually). I love to play and try new things, and experiment. I really love this question, as I haven't realized just how similar my nature is in both of these creative outlets. I suppose it translates to most of what I do and how I live. A bit unstructured, playful, unafraid to try new things. I might make a mess, things might not always go together, but I love the exploration and the journey. With cooking, it's so much about the making of the meal. I love eating too, but the healing for me is through the action of making the food with love and intention. The same applies to macramé.
Many people associate macrame with a bohemian, “hippie” aesthetic. Do you believe that this craft can evolve beyond the boundaries of that narrow paradigm?
It already has. When I launched my book Modern Macramé, (Ten Speed Press) in May of 2018, one of my favorite parts of the project were showing how you might style macramé in your home. We photographed 19 different homes around the world with the 33 projects featured throughout, shot and styled in at least 2 different locations.
The interiors I chose ranged from California Modern, to Copenhagen Chic, to Elevated Simplicity. Some more maximal and colorful and others clean and elegant.
The custom work I am currently exploring breaks away from this way of thinking as well. The pieces are rambunctious but refined, and not hippie at all. But elevated and full of intention. I am also collaborating with a wonderful glass artist, Andi Kovel of esque studio to have an art show at Front of House Gallery in May where we designed glass objects together and I am knotting them up. The theme of the work is women in business, breaking the glass ceiling, but discussing and acknowledging how difficult it is to “climb the ladder”
I think we speak for a lot of folks who love the warm aesthetic of macrame but are intimidated to learn the craft. If you had one piece of advice for the virgin or budding macrame student, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to fail. Make macramé your playground. I was recently at a concert and the musician (a wonderful singer-songwriter named Alela Diane) who said that she lives a very happy life but still feels so much pain in the world. She said she puts all her sadness into her music.
If you feel frustration, sadness, hurt, pain, love, passion, whatever you feel, put it fully into your creations.
And if you are more of a follow the pattern type of person, over at Modermacrame.com we not only have the best rope and string around for all your crafty needs, but also over 20 patterns to download, a youtube channel full of knots and some sweet beginners kits. The knotwork really can bring you into a meditative flow...
I also still occasionally teach workshops in person, so you can sign up for our email list or follow us at @modernmacrame on Instagram for updates and inspiration.
But above all, be yourself. Find your unique offering to the world and make it yours.
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