Since starting my course at Newcastle and beginning to experiment with textiles in art, I have been keen to learn different textile techniques. My skills are actually quite basic and limited – I can sew by hand and am learning to use a machine, and I have only learnt knitting and basic embroidery techniques this year.
This book by Dona Meilach has been a real inspiration to me – it was published in the 1970s but I managed to get a copy second hand from Amazon. It gives an overview of most fabric arts, in both a craft and a fine art context. It also includes diagrams of techniques, and this is where I found instructions for macramé. In the beginning, I was just clumsily figuring out how to do it, but once I got into the rhythm of knotting with the wool it seemed like a repetitive and almost therapeutic practice.
My macramé pieces aren’t very advanced, but as I began to make more, I realised there was something in the technique and practice itself that was interesting. The repetitive gestures of knotting and making something allows you to zone out and has a calming effect. I could almost imagine macramé being a reaction and antidote to anxiety and stress.
I think the light blue colour of the wool emphasises this too. It’s a calming colour, but also echoes sadness. Some of my pieces are more neat and some are quite ragged and messy (see above.) It’s strange because I never intended to display these as pieces – I only really made them in order to learn a new skill – but once I’d started making, I realised the effect they had on me, and their potential as embryonic pieces of work. I left them hanging up, each side by side, in my studio space.