Andy teaches us just how hard macramé rocks

Andy has been behind so many of our most charming posts here at Think.Make.Share. The talented photo stylist has taught us how to make affordable floral arrangements and have let us into his gorgeous home. Today, he’s talking about the (currently very hip) art of macramé. 

A Hallmark prop stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

I was a really weird kid for a lot of reasons, but perhaps my strangest attribute was I loved macramé. Not with a love like you might love rainbows and kitten, but with a passionate, all-consuming, crazy love for the ancient knot-tying art form favored by art-student stoners, Birkenstock and flannel clad sisters, and decoupage drop outs who wanted to find another way to express their wild side.

This love affair began when I was in the sixth grade. The year was 1970. My parents were good friends with a woman who was the head of the textiles department at the Kansas City Art Institute; her name was Joy. One day Joy came over to our house to watch a football game with my parents, and she brought some jute with her. I sat by Joy on our black naugahyde and chrome couch during the game, and she patiently showed me how to tie a half-hitch and a square knot and how to create variations of those basic macramé knots.

That night after Joy left, after the crock-pot with Velveta-Rotel dip had been cleaned up, and after my parents turned off the television, I carefully took my macramé sampler to my room and hung my masterpiece on my bulletin board. I laid in my bottom bunk twin bed that night and sleep would not come; I was filled with a passion. I had fallen in love with the craft that dare not speak its name…

macramé.

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Months later, to fine-tune my knotting skills, I enrolled in a macramé class at a local library. It was late summer, a few weeks before I was to start the 8th grade. As was usually the case, whenever I went to any macramé event it was all women. This class was no different. I spent the afternoon knotting and chatting with my newly formed adult female friends. We exchanged recipes for Jello 123 and Kraft Shake n’ Bake. We then moved to discussing the latest shenanigans of the soap opera As the World Turns. It was a grand afternoon, and I was on a macramé and lady-gossip high as I skipped out of my macramé safe haven. But as I turned the corner, I literally ran straight into the meanest bully in my junior high. What in the world was the meanest kid in school doing in a library, in the summer? Is nothing sacred?

I was about to be pummeled in the non-fiction section of the Oak Park public library.

I picked up my tangled ball of jute, beads and dowel rods, and, in the butchest way I could, ran out of the library, all the way home. (I hope I wasn’t screaming; I’ve blocked that part out.) When I got home, I slammed the front door behind me and leaned against the door trying to catch my breath… as my mom announced with great sobriety and concern that we would be moving in a few weeks and that we would have to attend new schools.

She hoped the news wouldn’t be too devastating for me. Having a flair for the dramatic, I fell to the floor, clasped my hands and yelled, “Thank you Jesus!” My brother rolled his eyes and walked away, my mom backed out of the room, slowly went back to her Tuna Helper and tried to figure out what had just happened.

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

From that point on, my days and evenings were filled with my chubby little fingers knotting anything I could get my hands on—even my dad’s extension cords were not safe. I started selling macramé belts to friends in my new Jr. High school, I started selling wall hangings in local shops and galleries, and I started entering juried shows. As I entered high school, I was even approached by an artist rep who wanted to take my work to galleries in other cities, and I started a relationship with a big architectural firm in Kansas City. I was on macramé fire!

You may be thinking that at this point I would get big-head from my macramé notoriety and fame. Now, mind you, I was going to a small rural school in a farming community where driving a Camaro or a Chevy pickup was about the fastest way to be cool. I rode the bus.

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

My creative, non-judgmental, unconditionally loving parents not only entertained this passion of mine, they celebrated it, encouraged it and made me feel like a macramé rock star. My dad made business cards for me and helped me lug these giant wall hangings from art show to art show. My mom drove me over 30 miles a week to take weaving lessons in a neighboring town. They would do anything to support this passion of mine, even though it was decidedly different than my dad’s all-American jock endeavors in high school and my mom’s studious pursuits.

A Hallmark prop stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Then the 1980s rolled around, and macramé died. I don’t mean a slow painful, dramatic death. I mean the clock hit midnight on New Years Eve of 1979, and macramé was dead. There was a silent agreement that everyone would put down their macramé mid-knot as the ’70s ended. Macramé was dropped like you drop a cheating boyfriend or girlfriend, never to acknowledge them again. It seemed my crafty lady friends had all moved on to hot-gluing yards of lace to straw hats that became decorative elements for suburban front doors across the country.

I only tell you all of this because there is something miraculous happening: Macramé is coming back! People are actually interested in it again…

…for real! My old flame and I are being reunited! Who says you can’t go back? The old square knot and half-hitch fly from my fingers just like they did, gulp, 40 years ago.

Every kid has natural interests and abilities, and they are all of value, even if that interest is something as seemingly goofy as macramé. Thank you to the adults who give kids freedom to find those skills, nurture them and honor them.

We are all better for it.

Several Hallmark creative folk joined me the other day for a macramé workshop. I smiled the entire day, knowing that these co-workers were interested in this ’70s art form. Justin Timberlake may have brought sexy back, but I brought macramé back (at least to a few Hallmarkers)!

A Hallmark prop stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

The morning was spent learning the basic knots, and then after lunch, the workshop participants started working on their own macramé bracelets, plant hangers and wall hangings.

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Minimal supplies are required. Scissors, rubber bands, beads, the material you choose to knot with, mounting rods and creativity are the only things you need.

Basic two macramé knots are the square knot and the half hitch. Once you have those down, you can do anything!

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Lindsay, Tobe and Nicole learn how to tie the basic knots.

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Betsy, who is a Hallmark photo stylist extraordinaire, gathered beautiful objects to incorporate into her two wall hangings.

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

 

Frayed and knotted ends added distinct personality to Betsy’s macramé pieces.

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Something as simple as a half square knot repeated over and over can make a simple but beautiful bracelet.

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Hannah was a real macramé show-off by incorporating a complete half-hitch circle and color in her wall hanging.

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Nicole updated the classic ’70s plant hanger by incorporating a graphic white pot for her plant and a glass orb for decoration. Nicole also took the time to hand-paint beads so they would have a lustrous look. What a freak! (I mean that in the greatest way!)

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Lindsay created a really sophisticated and beautiful macramé wall hanging that consisted entirely of the half hitch knot. Lindsay incorporated copper tubing into her piece as well. Trés elegante!

A Hallmark photo stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

And, finally there was Jen, Trends guru at Hallmark. I now refer to her as the macramé whisperer. The baton has been passed. Watch the video in Instagram at @think.make.share, and you will see what I mean. Jen used a large-sized paper cord that is often used in upholstery work. You can order most of this type of material through Amazon.

A Hallmark prop stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Every participant did a stunning job, and it was pretty amazing that there were several finished pieces that were completed in only four hours.A Hallmark prop stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

A Hallmark prop stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.comA Hallmark prop stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.comA Hallmark prop stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.comA Hallmark prop stylist teaches us how to macrame | thinkmakeshareblog.com

So get your fingers limbered up and find some jute, welt cord, baling twine or any other kind of string and start knotting.

And the next time someone asks you what you’re into these days, stand tall, stand proud and say it loud…

I’m into macramé!!!

Photography by Kevin Cozad.

Comments

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  1. 10.1.15 | Reply
    minipups2 wrote:

    I was a miserable failure at knitting- because I kept turning my yarn into knots! Maybe macreme is the answer to my “problem”! I am a little younger than you- I was born in 1970- but I still remember some of the fascinating, beautiful macreme creations I saw in the ’70s. Time for me to find a how-to video and see what I can do…

    • 10.2.15 | Reply
      Andy Newcom wrote:

      I think you are going to be a natural!!! Let me know how it goes.

  2. 10.20.15 | Reply
    Ana M. wrote:

    Hi Andy, I love the macramé Lindsay made. Do you know if she does custom made orders? Is there anyway I could contact her? Thank you. Ana

  3. 11.29.15 | Reply
    Lynn H wrote:

    I have been looking for someone in the KC area who can help me with a small macrame jewelry project. I know the basic knots, but not how to manipulate them to get the effect I’m looking for. Do you do workshops or lessons, or know anyone who does?

    • 6.22.16 | Reply
      Andy Newcom wrote:

      I will be teaching a Hallmark sponsored workshop at Golden & PIne in July. I’m not sure that will be the venue that would be the most beneficial for you because it will be a beginners class.

  4. 2.6.16 | Reply
    Susan wrote:

    I just wanted to tell you what an excellent article this is, and what beautiful work a bunch of newbies did..very inspiring. Thank you

    • 6.22.16 | Reply
      Andy Newcom wrote:

      Thank you! I am very proud of the amazing participants and the work that they did.

  5. 2.12.16 | Reply
    Evelyn Ruasoi wrote:

    Just stunning creations and awesome.

    • 6.22.16 | Reply
      Andy Newcom wrote:

      Thanks Evelyn! I think your kind words will inspire this group to do more great work!

  6. 2.21.16 | Reply
    Pat wrote:

    In the 70s I discovered macrame. Plant hangers,owls,purses. But life happened and I moved on. Now I’m my late 50s I became ill and could not work any more. Trying not to become insane I had to do something. I started tying knots and fell in love again. people think I’m nuts when I show them my lannii full of hanging plant hangers . It’s so different now but I love it. Keep knotting

    • 6.22.16 | Reply
      Andy Newcom wrote:

      Pat, I hope you keep knotting! Who cares if people think your nuts! When you start knotting the repetitive activity can really put you in a very relaxed state.

      If you run out of room for plant hangers maybe you should think about selling some…
      … just saying. Could become profitable.

  7. 2.27.16 | Reply
    ana belen wrote:

    Hi Andy! wich kind of rope is that “xl size” ? I love it. Tahnks!

    • 2.29.16 | Reply
      Lindsay T. wrote:

      The material is Conso Cotton Piping. Cord size 6 (3/4”)

  8. 3.6.16 | Reply
    chemmy's kraftsy wrote:

    Wow,i got more inspired tonight with your work,i only make bags and slippers but now ,i can do more

    • 6.22.16 | Reply
      Andy Newcom wrote:

      You can do so much more! Good luck on all of your future projects. Half the fun is thinking about what you want to make! Thanks for letting us know that we inspired you, that keeps us going!

  9. 3.14.16 | Reply
    Cristina wrote:

    This is Wonderful! I am bummed that I missed the class. Will there be another class soon? Would Lindsey be interested in selling her work?

    • 6.22.16 | Reply
      Andy Newcom wrote:

      I will probably be teaching more classes for Hallmarkers at work. I’m going to be teaching a class through the “My 5 Days” program in September I believe. Would love to see you in class!

      Can’t speak for Lindsay, but shoot her an email. You never know!

  10. 3.25.16 | Reply
    Becci wrote:

    I’m making a back drop for my sons wedding, I found something on pinterest but trying to figure out how long to cut the cords… it’s going to be about 6 foot long, not tight knots, any idea? Thank you

    • 6.22.16 | Reply
      Montrealbride wrote:

      Becci,
      I am making a back drop for my sisters wedding. Also going to be 6ft. Wondered if you ever got answer and how yours went. Pls feel free to email awett@hotmail.com. Thanks.

      • 6.22.16 | Reply
        Andy Newcom wrote:

        I am so sorry I didn’t answer the previous comments earlier. I like to avoid this question because there are soooo many factors involved and there is no easy answer. The answer depends on the diameter of the material you are using, the density of your design and the list goes on.

        I try to always give myself a lot more rope than I need. Usually I would say to make your rope/cord strands at least 5 times as long as your finished piece but if there is gong to be minimal knotting you may be ok making each strand 2 to 3 times as long as the finished piece. Without seeing your material and the design it’s hard to even guess.

  11. 6.27.16 | Reply
    Valerie wrote:

    I love how positive you are. My motto is good vibes only and you spread it with you macrame good ties only;) I’m having a hard time research where to buy the correct rope.

    Do you have and tips on where to find it?

    • 7.6.16 | Reply
      Andy Newcom wrote:

      Hi Valerie,

      Take a look at my latest blog post, “Macrame’ Forever.” I talk a little bit about where I send students to find materials…
      …everywhere and anywhere! I find Amazon.com to be a good source for white welt cord. Hope that helps!

  12. 7.3.16 | Reply
    Kim wrote:

    im super excited to start macrame-ing
    Im really interested in how to do this last pattern,
    How can i find out how to recreate that?

    • 7.6.16 | Reply
      Andy Newcom wrote:

      Hi Kim,

      Go to my latest Think.Make.Share. blog post, “Macrame’ Forever,” and at the very end is a video on how to create the basic macrame’ knots. The piece you want to create is made entirely from the half hitch knot. Watch the video and I think that will show you what you need to know!

  13. 7.6.16 | Reply
    Bessy martinez wrote:

    I really enjoy reading you, I macrame when i was about ten too, the masterpiece of mine never left my mind, never. I started macrame 3 days ago, and here I am reading you so beautiful! Your story is so real and fascinated I have a passion for macrame too I always did but never made the time to actually do it. I’m now and I love it! I will love to see videos where you fix any mistakes along the way with your macrame, like the ends of your projects or why the knots get loose after you are done?! or how to incorporate beds!
    Thank you!!

    • 7.14.16 | Reply
      Andy Newcom wrote:

      Bessy, thank you so much for your very kind comments. I’m so glad that macrame’ has found you again!

      You have some great ideas for videos in the future and now the Think.Make.Share team has them too! Keep watching and reading our blog.

  14. 7.16.16 | Reply

    I was at the tail end of the last macrame explosion so never really got to grips with it . We have just moved to france and have been looking for something to hang in the palm trees and saw the jar holders on pintrest and stumbled onto your page . Amazing stuff so pleased people are getting back into crafts . I knit and crochet and cannot wait to add “knotting” to my list .
    Thank you

    • 7.20.16 | Reply
      Andy Newcom wrote:

      Elaine, you can’t imagine how thrilled we are to have a macrame’ connection living in France! Send us your pics when you pick up the jute and start knotting!