We're finally feeling better around here, and yet this week has felt like slow motion. I guess it's part of coming out of the fog of being sick and icky for so long and slowly back into a normal routine. The wildfires burning the mountains of the Southeast have sent smoke all the way down to the Atlanta area, so we've been inside more than usual. As a result, I've done a little bit of packing for our move which feels good and productive. After all, we close in 10 days and rent the truck in two weeks! Speaking of productive, I've also continued to click through Christmas orders, and this morning I finally caught a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. If you ordered a Christmas quilt, it's coming, I promise!
Today I'm bringing you an interview with another Instagram friend, Jess Macy of Whisker Row. I'm not sure how I found Jess, but the first weaving of hers that I saw took my breath away! Months later I was able to work with her on a custom indigo dipped macrame with silver accents as a little gift to myself when I rebranded from Mes Aventures, Crafts & Co. to String & Story (photo above). Her creations are gorgeous, and she is a lovely person. Also, she just got married, so everyone go holler CONGRATS over on Instagram!
1) Tell us a little about yourself—your family, your macrame, other creative interests, etc. Well hello! I'm Jess, the owner of Whisker Row. I'm a newlywed and mom to 2 cats & 2 dogs living in the KC burbs. I've always been the type of person who wants to try everything. I have so many boxes filled with my supplies for my newest hobby or diy project. I've tried crocheting, photography, painting, drawing, wood burning, string art, knitting, himmeli, and so on. I got on a painted furniture kick (seriously, no piece of furniture was safe from spray paint) a few years ago and I'm so glad I snapped out of that phase and still have several vintage pieces with the natural wood intact. Truth be told, most of those hobbies were lucky if I gave them a month. that was until I found weaving a year and half ago. It shouldn't be surprising that our house isn't safe from the DIY bug. Most rooms in our house have been painted at least twice (some of them 3) in the 2 years that we've lived there. Plus the new flooring, hardware, light fixtures...I'm an animal. I absolutely love thrifting for furniture and accessories. Estate sales, flea markets, thrift stores, and craigslist are my jam. In a way, thrifting how the interest in weaving started. I'm smitten with the blog,The Brick House, which is dedicated to thrifted mid century modern pieces. I'm even more smitten with the vintage weavings Morgan found. So much that I wanted to learn to make them myself.
2) When did you start weaving and macrame and what led you to open your shop? When I first started weaving, I immediately became addicted. Our walls began filling up with my fiber art. My husband, who knows me all to well, made a comment about me not sticking with weaving like every other hobby I've started over the years. I think that's partially what gave me the extra motivation to keep going and instead of living with walls covered with my weavings, I decided to try my hand at selling them. I opened my Etsy shop last fall and participated in my first craft fair in the Spring of 2016. I attempted macrame after weaving for several months. After finding wool roving (unspun wool) through weaving, I wanted to find other uses for it. I decided to learn a few basic macrame knots and try using roving instead of the traditional cotton cord. I've used cotton rope and bundled yarn since then, but making macrame with wool roving is still my favorite.
3) When did you start dip dying? Can you tell us about that process? I was approached by Hand and Land, an all natural and organic boutique here in Leawood, KS, for weavings that were mostly organic. The owners were amazing to work with and pushed me to really explore other options for my art (organic yarns, natural dye, etc.). I researched natural dye and experimented with avocado skins (which surprisingly make the most perfect blush pink color) and indigo. While this experimentation was originally meant for dying skeins to be used in my weavings, I found the dip dyed strands to be so beautiful on their own. I've since used several more readily available dyes, but the natural dyes are my favorite. Each piece is 100% unique and so is the process, but generally I begin with my ideal color palette followed by mixing dye for test swatches. Some of the larger and more colorful pieces take several days between dye baths to prevent the colors from all running together. The only consistent thing that I've found is my stubbornness for perfection. I always seem to find one at least one strand that needs a little more dye - of course this happens after I've taken my gloves off - so I'm constantly left with colorful hands.
4) How is creative community important to your work? SO important. I feel like we all push each other out of our comfort zones. I wouldn't be where I am right now without maker collaborations, Instagram support, reading blogs, custom order requests, and the input from shops where my art is sold.
5) What advice do you have for other makers along their creative journey? This ties into #4. Network! I'm still learning so much everyday. From how to properly package and ship, to working with suppliers, to better photograph my products. The best thing that I've done is to participate in the craft fairs and meet other makers in my city. And if that's not an option, you can always become more active on social media! I've found that we're probably going through or have gone through the exact same issues (good and bad) and it is so comforting to have a creative person to lean on and bounce ideas off of.
Thank you, Jess! You're work is wonderful! Y'all can find Jess on Instagram @WhiskerRow (which is where I got these lovely photos), and you can shop her WhiskerRow storefront on Etsy. She has a number of ready-to-ship pieces listed, so it's not too late to do a little holiday shopping!
You can also visit me on Instagram @stringandstory or over on Facebook @stringandstory. I would love it if you followed/liked, and it'll help you stay up to date on my stitching and blogging! If you are interested in my motherhood and outdoor adventures, follow me on Instagram @mesaventureshak.