The creative process behind my Macrame teepee
I get so many questions about my teepee, 'did i make it?'...'how did i make it?'...'what string did i use?'...and so on. So i thought why not answer all your questions at once, and write a blog about the creative process behind it.
There are so many items you can make using macrame as its just so versatile, and thats one of the many reasons i love it so much. So deciding on what to design and make can be a tricky one sometimes because the list is truly endless. You want to be unique, you want people to like it, you want it to sell etc etc. There can be a bit of pressure on you to make that perfect piece that will stand out, but when you forget about all that and just make exactly what you want, i think that is when you’re personality really comes through in a piece.
When i first started out on my Macrame journey, i made a plant hanger using instructions from a really bad YouTube video. After that i felt like i had learned the basics and i wanted to attempt to make a simple wall hanging (which didn't end up being so simple, and took foreverrrr). I've always loved doing projects that have challenged me. Ill never forget my Art teacher in secondary school, she always used to say to me 'That may be a little too ambitious for a 2 hour exam Jordan!' My thoughts were always 'nahhhh, it'll be fine, don't worry miss!' I mean even now if someone says, 'it cant be done' or 'that may take too long to complete.' It just makes me want to crack on with it even more! Which is exactly what happened when i came across a macrame teepee handmade by the talented Diane Rudge.
Diane was the first Macrame artist i came across when i was living back in Canada. I saw some of her work in a local artisan store, and instantly fell in love with her style. Her pieces are very nature inspired, and she uses a lot of natural resources which she finds and collects from the surroundings where she lives in BC. She makes incredible weaves, macrame art and dream catchers, and designs amazing installations for local businesses.
After seeing her teepee, i really wanted to put my own spin on one, so I was determined that would be my next challenge. I wanted to start small, so I decided to make one for my kids bedroom.
Armed with 5 dowels and some 3-ply rope i found in a fishing store on Vancouver Island. I was good to go. I never draw up my designs prior to making, I always just wing it and go with the flow. This way of doing things can be a bit tedious at times, as you can spend a lot of time knotting and then un-knotting. But this way works best for me, and i prefer to surprise myself at the end.
I decided to use 5 poles so that it would create a larger space inside for the kids to sit and chill, using 3 would of made it too small and that would have created arguments. The process for this one went pretty smoothly, i never got any creative blocks, the designs just seemed to flow, and it was finished in about a week. The hardest part i found was joining all the dowels together at the top so they created that nice spiral effect. This part isn't as easy as it seems, or maybe i'm just a dumb **s. But i really struggled ha ha...the amount of YouTube videos i watched, to see how you make a teepee, or set up a teepee. That must have taken a couple of days on its own.
Unfortuantley i had to sell this teepee, as we decided to re locate to the UK (that's another story, for another day) But as soon as we were settled in the UK, i needed a new project to focus on. I wanted to make another teepee as the kids loved the other one so much. But this time round i wanted to make it a little bigger. Go big, or go home!!!....right?!
Not thinking about all the knotting i would haveto do, i decided to make it 6ft high (when open).
I went with 5 dowels again, creating 4.5 sides to complete. These sides were enormous, and very daunting to look at. They were between 1-1.5 meter wide at the base gradually getting narrower towards the top. Taking the size of these panels into consideration, i decided the best rope to use for this project, was obvioulsy 3mm. (No I’m actually serious). There was a reason behind choosing such a thin rope. My first thought was, it’ll look super intricate and detailed. Then the second was, I’ll get more footage on a 3mm spool than a 5mm spool. So it would go further and I would save on money. At this time I hadn’t got my own macrame rope, and a couple years ago good quality single strand string was hard to come by over here in the UK. So I decided to stick with my current supplier Niromastudio. Cindy’s string is so beautiful and soft to work with, which was perfect when i had 5 panels, 1m wide and 6ft high to knot, because I didn’t want blistered fingers from rough rope.
Each panel design took me 1-2 weeks to complete. After the first 2 panels were done I really started to regret the size, but on the other hand I really wanted to see it complete. The third panel was a massive struggle for me, I had a huge design block, and as a result ended up un-knotting over half the panel...twice!! The first time was because I didn’t like the design, and the second was because the tension was far too tight. Which resulted in the poles being pulled towards each other, making the panel size smaller than the rest. This totally throws off the balance and evenness of the teepee, making it look wonky. This made my OCD go into over drive, so I decided to put it away and have a couple weeks off. After this break the design flowed more freely, and I finished the last two panels in no time at all.
I find stepping back occasionally clears the head and allows for fresh new ideas to enter. I was so happy when I had completed it, and after seeing it finished I decided I didn’t want to hide it away for just my kids to use and abuse. I wanted it to be seen, and for Sticky fingers to be far away from it!
I decided to use it for display purposes at craft fairs to start off. It got so much attention, I was completely blown away.
Then after my first craft fair, everything just kind of snowballed from there and I started to get enquiries from people wanting to use it for their displays. Unfortunately its still yet to get its chance to shine at a wedding, but I totally believe it will one day!
Looking back on this whole process, it has been quite a journey. One that Im glad I’ve done, but not too sure if I would do again any time soon. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it, It would just be very hard to find the time to complete. Plus Delphine would either be swinging from it, or attempting to climb it! Then id probably end up grey by the time I’d finished it.