Danielle Amir-Lobel, Editorial Manager
Macrame wall hangings are handmade textile designs produced by a combination of knotting and weaving techniques. This form of fiber art unites knot patterns with more classic warp and weft techniques involved in weaving fibers together. There are a variety of knot techniques that can be applied to create unique designs, including one-of-a-kind, handwoven wall hangings, and the pieces can incorporate a variety of materials from linen, to rafia, cotton, and even synthetic fibers. Macrame wall hangings bring a sense of warmth, individuality, and bohemian atmosphere to any home.
One of Wescover’s Creators, Belen Senra at Ranran Design who is based in Indonesia, combines traditional textile styles with a modern charm and her vibrant life experiences to create beautiful, eclectic macrame wall hangings. In her work, Belen values bringing beauty to your home while minimizing environmental impact and supporting small businesses. She creates her pieces with meaning and intent and designs her handmade pieces to bring you pieces that you will continue loving throughout your life. We asked Belen some questions about macrame wall hangings, and she has graciously shared her stories and process with the Wescover community.
What does macrame mean and how does it differ from other fiber arts?
Macrame is a knot technique which consists of making patterns by knotting. The main difference between macrame and other fiber arts is the knot by itself: we make macrame with just our hands while other textile techniques typically use tools. We can actually trace back the origin of the term macrame and the technique to several different backgrounds. Many believe that the term “macramé” comes from the Arabic word migramah or “fringe.” Still, others believe the word has a French origin. The techniques involve in macramé knot-tying can be traced back to thirteenth century Arabic decorative weavers who used the knots to secure loose ends of woven textiles, like towels and shawls. However, decorative knot-tying can also be traced back independently to third century China where it was used for ceremonial textiles and wall hangings. Similar techniques have also been observed in Persia from as far back as 2300 BC. With this extremely diverse and rich background, macrame is actually not comparable to other design techniques in terms of the process but can sometimes appear similar to crochet in terms of patterns and loom weaving from which macrame takes some of its woven knots.
What techniques or materials elevate a macrame wall hanging from decor to art?
From my experience, this distinction is less about the material or technique and more about the creativity, pattern, and textures the artist employs. Of course some materials like linen are very special and immediately captivating, but other materials such as rafia, cotton, and even synthetic fibers can be converted into amazing art with the right skill and vision. I believe the key to producing macrame art is being different and taking risks: doing so will elevate your knots and compositions to another level. There are a multitude of techniques that can be used to produce macrame, and almost all textile techniques can be combined together, so exploring these unique possibilities can add a special touch to wall hanging art. The most common mix of techniques is a combination of macrame and loom weaving techniques.
What are the most common requests for styles or materials you get from custom clients?
Most of my clients actually ask for versions of my pieces that I have already designed because they love how eclectic and eye-catching they are. In pieces I design, I normally use cotton, linen, and yute as primary materials. Still, I am always open to using different fibers depending on the country I am visiting or living in and am always excited to hear new ideas and requests from customers.
What are the biggest and smallest pieces you’ve made?
The largest piece I have made was 5 meters long, but, although big pieces are always very impactful, size does not necessarily determine the quality of the work. The smallest pieces I have made were necklaces which contained mini tapestries. Pieces of all sizes can display unique designs and details and elevate whichever space they are designed to fill.
What’s unique about your style?
My own unique, nomadic lifestyle defines my creations and inspirations. I travel widely across the world and share my time and experiences with local artisans, and specifically women, who have amazing, diverse talents. My global observations which span across different continents have led me to develop a very eclectic style that does not come from any one origin but rather a harmonious mix of different cultures and ideas. I have lived in various countries, mostly in Asia, which has led me to think about materials differently. For example, in places like Bali (where I spend many months every year), you need to become very creative in terms of materials, as it is not easy to find fibers suitable for macrame. Therefore, I need to create styles adapted to the materials I find rather than finding materials to fit pieces I intend to make. Generally, I believe this versatile and nomadic style lends an unmatched creativity and sense of wonder to my work.
How long does it take to create a macrame wall hanging?
The creation time depends on the design and size. In general, it ranges from 8 hours to 5 days for me, but it can surely take longer. As each client is different, some have a very clear idea of what they want from the start while others can spend more than 8 days changing their mind, so I need to continue iterating and working in order to create a final design that the customers love. If the client requests a custom order that is simply a variation on a previous piece I made, it is much quicker, so a week is generally sufficient to have the order completed.
The process of creating a custom piece is much more complex and involves more steps than most people believe. Below are the phases involved in custom creations:
- Defining the design
- Collecting the materials and colors (sometimes even hand-dying the fibers)
- Occasionally, creating a drawing outline of the design
- Creating the piece (from tying the first knot to the last)
- Allowing the client to evaluate the piece for corrections
- Correcting anything if necessary (sometimes implies unmaking interwoven aspects)
- Styling and photographing the piece for clients and social media (includes photo editing)
- Packing and shipping the item (continuing to track the package until received)
- Enjoy your new macrame art!
Macrame wall hangings perfectly combine modern style and fashion with culturally-inspired, one-of-a-kind fiber art. Anyone seeking to add unique wall art to their spaces should check out Wescover’s collection of macrame wall hangings. Finally, visit Belen Senra at Ranran Design on Wescover to see more of her inspired and eclectic pieces.
Also published on Medium.