Creative Genius: Emily Katz

The founder and owner of Modern Macramé is invigorating a new generation of fiber art makers.

By: Lish Dorset
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I first fell in love with the work of macramé artist Emily Katz by way of her Instagram feed, @modernmacramé. Not only were her macramé pieces highlighted in some of the most lovely photos I’d seen, but I appreciated seeing pictures of her at work, both in her studio and teaching others. Not long after that, I found myself in a former industrial film studio during Detroit Flower Week learning the basics of macramé with Emily herself.

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

With a busy schedule teaching this year and a new book on its way to bookstores this spring, Emily has a lot going on, all thanks to a well-loved craft and a community that's eager to learn. But I was lucky enough to talk with Emily and ask her a few questions about her life and work as a textile artist. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company, Modern Macramé.
I have always been an artist and creative, from running two fashion businesses in my 20s, to having a band and working on fine art and interior design. Now, I am the owner and founder of Modern Macramé.

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

We are a small, women-owned and operated company based out of Portland, Oregon, striving to be your one-stop shop for all things macramé and craft. We sell ready-made macramé, DIY materials, such as rope, string, rings, yarn, accessories and more, and we also work with clients to make large-scale commissioned work. I travel and teach workshops about macramé around the world, from Copenhagen to Mexico City to Japan and across the United States.

How did you get involved with creating macramé art?
I learned macramé from my mom as a way to reconnect after over 20 years of not having a relationship at all. She moved away when I was 9, and I was raised by my dad in Portland. She taught me in her kitchen as a fun project to do together. I had no idea it would take me to where I am now.

Eclectic Bench With Fringe and Rug

Eclectic Bench With Fringe and Rug

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

What kind of projects have you created that show how exciting this DIY art form can be?
So many! From macramé tents, to cots and day beds, to giant ceiling installations filled with plants.  

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

What do you think is the cause behind the resurgence of macramé today?
With so much tech surrounding us all the time, people desperately are looking for a way to connect to themselves, to friends and to their community in a tactile and hands-on way. Macramé is also easy to learn and doesn't take all that much time when compared to knitting or some other more time-consuming crafts. There is a wonderful instant gratification element to it!

Do you ever encounter anyone who made a lot of macramé projects in the 1960s and 1970s that’s surprised to see this trend coming back?
When I set up at fairs and events, I get a lot of, "Oh! I used to make that in the 1970s!". It’s really half and half. Some people never want to see it again! But the other half is thrilled to see the new forms of macramé and its modern resurgence.

Image courtesy of Ten Speed Press

Image courtesy of Ten Speed Press

Image courtesy of Ten Speed Press

Image courtesy of Ten Speed Press

You’ve got a new book, Modern Macrame, coming out this spring. What can readers look forward to enjoying in this new guide?
There are 33 DIY projects with photographic DIYs as well as clear, concise instructions. In addition, there are over 100 luscious lifestyle images of inspiring interiors with the projects styled within them. Each project is shot in at least two situations, so you can make the piece and see how you can make it fit into your home. It’s being released on Ten Speed Press in May and is available for pre-order now.

For someone who’s interested in getting started with macramé, how do they begin? What are your must-have supplies and tools for getting started?
You need rope or cord, a ring, a piece of wood or whatever you are going to make your macramé from, and a rack or way to hang your piece while you work. I love using S hooks to help with the set up. We sell all of the supplies you need to make your projects on our website.

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

Beyond wall hangings, what are some of your favorite uses of macramé pieces?
Plant hangers are the obvious one, mostly because I love plants. But macramé can be for so many things. In the book, we have sections on seating, lighting, rugs and home goods. The sky is the limit!

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

Image courtesy of Emily Katz

This year it looks like you’ll be on the road teaching macramé across the country. What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Sharing my love of this craft, traveling around the world and seeing the look on people's faces when they "get it!”

Overall, what do you love most about macramé?
I love how it has literally woven this incredible web of creative women together. I have connected with a wonderful community through this craft and I look forward to where it takes me next.  

What other projects do you have coming up that you’re excited about and we should be on the lookout for?
We are working on creating video tutorials, DIY projects, knot basics and fun styling tips. I am very excited about this and would love any feedback from my community about what they are most excited to see.

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