Malaysia’s Creative Macrame Makers

Get to know your local macrame makers

/ October 5, 2021
The rising of Malaysia’s macrame makers; Image via the curiously creative

 

Have you heard about the Bohemian style?

Bohemian or Boho decorating is for those who want their homes full of life, culture, and interesting items. This aesthetic flies in the face of modern sensibilities and embraces the carefree, relaxed, and unusual. 

To me, it’s quite a unique style, and the Boho life is something that I’ve always been attracted to. Simply because it’s inspired by individuals who choose to live an unorthodox lifestyle, such as frequent travellers, actors, and writers. And if there’s one craft that they’re truly known for, it’ll be the Macramé. 

One of the most popular techniques for generating many stunning things allows you to employ knots and express your imagination in various ways, from earrings to dream catchers and plant hangers. 

However, after a decades-long absence, the stylish cloth is making a significant comeback on Pinterest. Macramé plant hangers, macramé wall hangings, macramé drapes, and other items have been spotted.

Following that, we want to shed some light on our local creative macramé makers, and we’ve caught up with 5 creative individuals from many different backgrounds. Read along as they reveal their stories and love for this craft. 

 

1/ Sinthana, @macramehugger 

 

Sinthana pictured with her SERENE wall decor

 

Our first maker is what I’d like to call a superwoman. She’s a mother of 3, a corporate trainer, and of course, a talented macramé maker. What can’t a woman do, right? And if she wasn’t doing what she’s doing today,  she’d be a travel writer. Sinthana, a woman of many talents, described her feelings when she’s doing something creative as – “meditative, calm and zone out.” And we cannot help but say we agree! So let’s get to know more about her work and why she’s in love with making macramé. 

Q: When did your macrame creative journey start? Who taught you or where did you learn?

I first tapped my fingers on the cords when I was about 12 years doing it together with my late mother. In those days, macrame plant hangers were a hit, and it was my mother who taught me. So from thereon, I began to learn square and spiral knots, 2 most important basic knots. Then I just stopped knotting.

In 2017, reminiscing the macrame-making moments with mom, I began to dabble in macrame again with a plant hanger. It took me 3 months to complete it! I just did it whenever I felt like it, and there was no intention to complete it immediately. When it was a complete piece, I totally fell in love with it and just wanted to explore more. Then the whole journey of experiencing new knots, techniques, patterns and designs spiralled. I just wanted to do every piece that tickled my heart. From basic plant hangers to vintage style plant hangers, wall backdrop, wedding backdrop, lampshade, hammock, table runner, placemat, cushion covers, mirror, clutch bag, sling bag, accessories such as earrings, necklaces, yoga strap, roller skate strap, perfume holder and keychain.

I challenged myself to bigger pieces with intricate designs that can be seen for the wedding backdrops, which are so popular now.

Q: How is making things important in your life? What does being a maker mean to you?

It gives me a sense of perspective when things get too hectic. When that happens, I turn to macrame. When I start on a piece, a conversation begins with myself and the piece I am working on. During the process, it is a ‘me’ time and sometimes it is not a breeze all the way through. But when I find a solution to the pattern or knot I want, and when the repetitive mode begins, that’s when the meditative phase sets in. It is so important to find your creative zen and I am very lucky to have found mine.

 

SEABREEZE wall decor by Sinthana

 

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?

I tend to visualize images that I have come across and experienced for the motifs and colours. It could be the plains of paddy fields with hills on the horizon, the waves of the sea and colourful underwater life.

Q: Do you have a creative ritual?

For example, for wall hanging with a freeflow design, I would normally knot a row of cords on driftwood horizontally, which would be my canvas. Then I would start knotting organically, a soft image of inspiration would begin to appear, and then I would step back, unknot if need be, or carry on to my liking. No right or wrong, that is where I find my comfort in creating a macrame piece.

Q: What is your process for coming up with new ideas? Do you start with materials or an idea first?

Macrame is taking the world by storm, There are so many wonderful makers out there with their beautiful pieces. So, naturally, I would view their work and find my own niche, sketch it, or just freeflow it. I usually start with either the materials I have in hand or with the idea first, and it works both ways for me.

Q: What do you consider your best or favourite work?

Wedding backdrops and big wall hangings.

Q: Could you share three IG accounts that inspire you?

@macrame.id

@fibermotel

@arieskasetyana

 

2/ Brenda, @macrame.it 

 

Brenda seen smiling proudly while holding her masterpiece

 

From the land of maple syrup to the land below the wind, a Canadian macrame maker fell in love with the craft during an art class back when she was in Grade 4. Now residing at Kota Kinabalu Sabah, Brenda runs her home-based on top of being an occupational therapist as well as a proud mother of 4 lovely children. We’re already in awe! Let’s get down to business and learn more about Brenda’s macrame journey. 

Q: When did your macrame creative journey start?

My macrame journey dates back many years to my Grade 4 Art class, where my art teacher introduced me to macrame. I remember making a macrame plant hanger and a small decorative wall hanging out of jute rope. Unknowingly, did I ever think that a childhood memory would spark an interest many years later in my adulthood? About 4 years ago, my interest was sparked by some beautiful macrame decor on social media. From there, I bought some cheap string and started experimenting by re-making a plant hanger. Surprisingly, after watching some YouTube tutorials on macrame, the method of knotting the basic knots came back to me. From there, it is history!

Q: How long have you been doing your craft? Who taught you or where did you learn?

I have been creating macrame designs now for just over 4 years. I self-taught myself by first watching YouTube tutorials and following patterns from books on macrame. After learning the basics, I developed my own style and technique through many hours of practice and experimenting with different knots, colours, patterns and materials.

Q: How is making things important in your life? What does being a maker mean to you?

Making allows me to learn and be creative. Making is therapeutic and relaxing. It also allows me to share my passion with other people. It is very rewarding when clients appreciate all the love, passion, and energy that I channel into creating a piece of art. Being a maker involves being dedicated to your craft and willing to go out of your comfort zone. I believe everyone has their own unique style, and one should be proud of that!

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?

I am inspired by nature and the environment around me. I love plants, animals and the sea. I love going to the beach to search for driftwood for my wall hangings. I love making plant hangers for my house plants and I have even made macrame collars for my 2 dogs!

 

Macrame is a craft that’s truly versatile; product made by Brenda

 

Q: Do you have a creative ritual? 

I usually like to start a new project in the morning after finishing all my household chores. I make myself a cup of coffee and this becomes “my time” to do something that I really enjoy.

Q: What is your process for coming up with new ideas? Do you start with materials or an idea first?

Usually, it is the idea that comes first. Sometimes these ideas float in my head during the night. I then look around and see what materials and supplies I have. Over the years, I have collected many different materials that can be used for my macrame art.

Q: What do you consider your best or favorite work?

My favourite works are my wall hangings. I do enjoy the challenge though when people ask me to macrame different things. I’ve been asked to make a family of owls, a teepee, handbags, necklaces, earrings, keychains, dream catchers, to name a few.

Q: If you were not a fiber artist, what would you love to be instead?

I would love to be a landscape painter! I really admire those who can paint as I have no concept of 3D drawings and shading.

Q: Could you share three IG accounts that inspire you?

@linda.creadoodle @modernmacrame – Both feature the works of macrame artists from around the world; @redhongyi – Probably one of the most famous Malaysian artists.

 

3/ Hanisah, @condimentstrings

 

Dreamy colours! Hanisah is seen pictured with her wonderful craft in the background

 

Passionate, calm and challenging. Those are the words that describe Hanisah’s feelings when she’s creative. Looking at all her completed crafts on her Instagram profile, we can’t help but wonder who is the genius behind this colourful Instagram account? We reached out to her and let’s read about her story!

Q: Tell us about yourself. What do you do for a living?

I am a fully dedicated fibre artist behind the brand Condimentstrings. 

I started my passion project as a creative outlet to channel my curiosity in the versatility of string art form. I rope in Condimentstrings full time to further challenge myself to grow in my creativity. 

My art is an exploration of texture, dimension, and scale, in which I use traditional hand techniques such as knotting, hooking, and weaving, to create expressive and fluid forms. Not confining my work to a set outcome, I let the material evolve organically as it will. 

Q: When did your macrame creative journey start?

Condimentstrings started as a solution to organize plants in my attic space. I found out about plant hangers that I can make to organize plants indoors, and I shared them online just for the fun of it, and it started to receive a tremendous amount of support and interested buyers from having it. After a few pieces, I gained confidence and joined my first local thrift market in APW Bangsar back in 2017. During the market, I completely sold out my first batch of macrame wall hanging. This is when I feel that it is my true calling to go further on this.

Q: How long have you been doing your craft? Who taught you or where did you learn?

I started to make my first macrame in 2017, self-taught from Youtube. After I had decided to immerse myself in the craft further, I decided to enrol in a macrame class to create wall hangings in Melbourne, Australia, from the local fibre artist.

 

Macrame is the only statement piece you need in your bedroom

 

Q: How is making things important in your life? What does being a maker mean to you?

It gets me to reconnect with my inner thoughts while letting my hands flow according to what is already familiar, and seeing the patterns forming together at the end gives a new sense of confidence in myself.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?

I will usually be drawn towards the elements of nature, also gradients of colours that are naturally evolving around us, and express it on a canvas of natural cotton strings. For example, the hues of sunset, the inconsistent flow of waves.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from and do you have a creative ritual? 

I will usually be drawn towards the elements of nature, also gradients of colours that are naturally evolving around us, and express it on a canvas of natural cotton strings. For example, the hues of sunset, the inconsistent flow of waves. In terms of creative ritual,  I will usually start with a right sense of mind, inspired and positive, because these are the two essences that keep me going.

Q: What is your process for coming up with new ideas? Do you start with materials or an idea first?

I like to browse through some designs created by other artists, just to get some visions on how the piece is gonna turn out before I get started illustrating the composition for a specific client.  

Q: What do you consider your best or favorite work?

The best form of work is when the final artwork comes honestly from my frame of thought, not strict to any form of outcomes. The most important thing is to be easy on myself and embrace beauty in many possible ways. Most of the time, it is completely different from the initial idea! But, it turns out BETTER in the end.

Q: If you were not a fiber artist, what would you love to be instead?

A chef that travels the world to find different flavours from different cultures.

Q: Could you share three IG accounts that inspire you?

  1. @vanessabarragao_work
  2. @belensenra
  3. @maryannemoodie

4/ Jacob Jr, @theknotsimpul

 

Jacob Jr., the man behind The Knot Simpul

 

Last but not least, the macrame maker presents himself as an “Ex-chemical engineer who fell in love with Macrame in 2020.” How? Well, we don’t exactly know how this ex-chemical engineer got attracted to the art of macrame making, but hey, that’s why we’re here, right? To learn about their crafts and the individuals behind all the creative and colourful works of art. Let’s find out why Jacob Jr described his creative time as freedom, expression and all out. 

Q: Tell us about yourself. What do you do for a living?

I am a chemical engineering graduate, working at one of the oil and gas companies. I was an engineer for more than 5 years before I shifted to the corporate world in Kuala Lumpur in 2019.

Q: When did your macrame creative journey start?

It all started back then in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit us badly. I have nothing to do at home besides my office work from 9 am to 6 pm. Everyone has been working from home until now. And usually, I took about 3 hours per day to commute to work from door to door. Since I started working from home, I have had the extra 3 hours and what I use it on is to watch Netflix all night. Then I realised, why don’t I shift my energy from doing nothing for 3 hours a day to something meaningful. Hence, the macrame business as my part-time job begins.

Q: How long have you been doing your craft? Who taught you or where did you learn?

I started with quilling from 2015 until 2017 and stopped halfway through, but my love for arts didn’t stop there. When I first saw the macrame wall hanging from one of the Instagram posts in 2020, it caught my attention right away. I didn’t even know what it was called, and I sent the picture to my mom, and she said, “ni lah macrame, mak dengan abah selalu buat untuk gantung pokok”  (“This is macrame, your father and I used to make plant hanger”). 

I never heard about macrame at all before that. From that moment, my love for macrame blossomed, and I decided to start learning from YouTube. YouTube is my first teacher, and I thought why not make this my part-time job? So that’s when I created my business that will be 1 year old this 15th September.

 

Add a touch of bohemian style with macrame from The Knot Simpul

 

Q: How is making things important in your life? What does being a maker mean to you?

For me, I am making things that can make me focus and forget all the hectic work or problems in my life. I will dive in and express myself in my artwork. It is very therapeutic, and the moment that I like most about being a maker is that when I finish my artwork and secure my brand logo, it gives me goosebumps and happy tears even now. It is beyond words when I see my artworks can make people (customers) happy.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from and do you have a creative ritual? 

From seniors. My macrame community really inspires me. I call them seniors. I don’t believe in competitors; in fact, they are my friends and teachers. We help each other out. As for my creative ritual, I don’t have one, except I always draw something on my iPad (and scroll Instagram, hehe)

Q: What is your process for coming up with new ideas? Do you start with materials or an idea first?

I usually sketch my ideas before I start doing something, and the iPad is everything for me. When I get inspiration from somewhere, I always draw or write on my iPad and expand from there. I think planning is the key, but I do believe in random ideas too.

Q: What do you consider your best or favourite work?

I always love wall hanging because it was my first love. I remember, wall hanging really caught my attention when I first saw a magnificent macrame piece in 2020. And I will always find opportunities to explore more and I’m more than happy whenever I receive requests to make a wall hanging as commission pieces. 

Q: If you were not a fibre artist, what would you love to be instead?

Still a fibre artist. Just sooner or later.

Q: Could you share three IG accounts that inspire you?

  1. @theduckgroup 
  2. @lotsofknotscanada 
  3. @holmmademacrame

 

Start crafting!

Two words – I’m impressed! 

I’ve always been impressed by creative people who paint, draw, and everyone who has the unique ability to produce something from nothing through hard work and genuine passion. There’s truly nothing more awe-inspiring than those who are willing to put in the time to be good at a certain skill. 

Even more so, when they do it with purpose and tell their stories of how they discovered their love for well in this case, macrame making. The bohemian craft blew my mind with its beauty. And after reading all four of their macrame journey and working process, I truly have a newfound respect for the macrame community. 

With that said, if you’ve stayed until the end, please do go check out all the accounts mentioned in this piece and always #suppportlocal.

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