Summertime Macrame

Summertime Macrame

Summertime is my season to tie knots.
Something about it makes me feel like a carefree kid again.
For many years, it was friendship bracelets.
(Occasionally, it still is.)
Then I moved to paracord survival bracelets.
I made a few dream catchers last summer.
But so far this summer, it’s all about macrame.

We’ve been experiencing extreme weather recently.
A mix of violent rainstorms and scorching sun.
I’ve been hiding out in my home studio.
Drawing, painting and tying knots.

Thus far, the longest cords I’ve worked with were about 15 feet each.
Any longer, and I would need to roll each cord around something to shorten it.
But for now,
I’ve just made sure my floor was clean and let the rope drape in piles around my bare feet.
I did have to deal with a few troublesome knots,
but quickly figured out a method and rhythm to keep the tangles at a minimum.

What you choose to anchor your macrame makes all the difference.
I scored this gorgeous curvy driftwood from a fellow artist.
She gifted me a box of found objects.
I thanked her with a retro paper cutter I’d bought at a NYC flea market years ago.
Gotta love a good junk trade.

I made the driftwood macrame wall hanging for my living room.
As I mentioned last post,
We’ve been in our house three years now.
Til now, I’ve haven’t been in the mood to create anything for the walls.
But suddenly I am .
And so I have.
(More projects in the pipeline – so keep an eye out)

After I finished the bigger macrame hanging for my living room,
I decided to play around with another piece.
This time I anchored my knots on a 12″ diameter brass hoop.
I kept thinking of the words “fiber-Frankenstein.”
By which I meant to experiment with mixing and matching fiber techniques.
I wanted to mix macrame, dream catcher and a bit of hand-weaving together.

My result was tamer than I initially visualized.
Not particularly “Frankenstein-ish” at all.
But it’s only the start of summer.
Plenty more weeks to continue playing with rope, thread and other fibers.
So I’m thinking there will be more Fiber-Frankensteins to come.

First Foray into Hyperbolic Crochet

First Foray into Hyperbolic Crochet

I’m in the midst of another painting frenzy.
My Whimsical collection is scheduled to move to a second church gallery in a few short weeks.
But after I saw the actual venue,
I decided most of the pieces from Whimsical wouldn’t work in that space.

So sure, there is a tight time constraint.
Not to mention spring break and a family trip coming up..
I started painting a new series anyway.
Then three canvases into the latest painting spree,
I got into a conversation about hyperbolic crochet,
You know that my compulsive need to try every craft idea kicked in.
Now I’m obsessively painting AND crocheting.

Hyperbolic crochet.
It has quite a ring to it, doesn’t?
It’s actually really easy and fun to crochet this way.
Simply start with a chain or round.
Then choose how frequently you want to increase your stitches.
For example,
Chain 20.
Then single crochet through the chain increasing every 3rd stitch.
Or increase every 7th stitch.
Or every “n-th” stitch.
It’s your choice.
Continue each row (or round) increasing regularly.
The resulting figures have a really beautiful, curvy, organic structure.

I think the coolest part about hyperbolic crochet is that it is an intersection between arts and math.
And, no, I’m not going to wax on about it.
If you want to learn more,
head over to The Institute For Figuring website.

Suffice to say,
My interest is now thoroughly piqued.
Here are three hyperbolic crochet pieces I created over the weekend:

By no means am I done with hyperbolic crochet.
I have at least two big projects in mind.
But it will be slow going
I have to first attend to the pile of empty canvases waiting for me.
So back to work I go!



Artist milestone:  My first solo exhibit.
by Val Chan.
(I’m still giddy over the thought.)

On display now in the art gallery at Church at Charlotte South Park through Easter.
Then moving to the art gallery at the church’s Matthews campus.

How lucky am I that my church asked me to share my work in their space.
I can’t begin to express my gratitude.
I embraced the opportunity.
Busted my behind to create enough art to fill out the space.
  Installed it.
Then invited my community and friends to come take a look.

The art reception happened yesterday.
I worried obsessively that I would run out of food and drinks for everyone.
When I wasn’t fussing over the possibility of running out of food,
I worried about no one showing up and then being stuck with all the snacks I’d ordered.
(Yes, I am a total dork)

The fantastic, amazing reality?
LOTS of folks showed up.
And there were plenty of snacks and drinks for everyone.
What a lovely afternoon.

My heart near bursted with joy that so many friends celebrated this milestone with me.

Macrame on My Mind

Macrame on My Mind

I’ve got macrame on my mind.
I also have sample knots all over my studio tables,
multiple works in progress hooked to various surfaces,
and plans for lots more macrame projects in the pipeline.

Blame it on my buddies at Modern Craft Collective.
(In a good way, of course)
One of our conversations started with my bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t attend their February shibori workshop, and ended with us deciding I would partner with them to teach a few workshops myself.
Specifically, macrame workshops.
How cool is that?

  Now I’m experimenting with knots & thinking about the best way to teach them.
Square knots.
Half hitch & clove hitch knots.
Lark knots.
Wrap knots.
Barrel knots.
The list goes on.

I’m also thinking about thickness and types of rope.
Deciding when and where to use beads.
Figuring out what combinations are aesthetically pleasing to the “modern” eye.
I don’t know about you,
but personally,
I was never into that ubiquitous 1970’s beaded hemp plant hanger…
(Sorry Momsy.  I know you were proud of the one you made…)

Bottom line?
Macrame rocks!
I can’t wait to make more and share more.
I’ll be posting works in progress on instagram (@valz_corner),
knotting in my studio at C3 Lab
coming out with workshops with Modern Craft Collective later this spring.
Stay tuned!



Remember that fiber exhibit I was prepping for?
It was REALLY amazing.

You know I was worried about my “craft” hanging out alongside real fiber “art.”
But I was also fretting about the unusually cold weather along the east coast.
Here in Charlotte,
the cold has been keeping people at home.
Would folks venture out into the cold?
In the dark?
Just to see some fiber art?

At C3 Lab for the TEXTURES exhibit

The happy answer to that was YES.
Yes they did.

What a heart warming experience to walk into C3 Lab to find it buzzing with people.

The CLTextile Artists (and I’m on that list!!)

I was equally excited to see MY name included on the list of participating CLTextile artists.

How cool to be part of the CLTextile group.
To be at C3 Lab.
To meet like minded people with a love of making.

Every piece in this show was an intricate work of someone’s hands and heart.

My “Out on a Limb” on display at the TEXTILES exhibit

When I noticed people clustered around my piece,
I was delighted that they were taking the time to study the little details.
Didn’t think I could get any happier.
…Til someone mentioned the local news had been by earlier in the day,
And that they’d noticed “Out on a Limb.”

“Out on a Limb” by Val Chan

That’s when I found out my crafty little bird even made it on the local news.
Here’s the link to some clips from Wilson’s World talking about our fiber show.
  My piece shows up in the last three minutes of the clip.

My cup runneth over.

Out on a Limb

Out on a Limb

Arts and Crafts.
I love them both.

As an “artist,”
I draw and paint in a myriad of mediums.
I use lots of glue (specifically Mod Podge).
I love to experiment and to mix techniques and mediums.
I want to be able to produce representational art when the mood strikes.
But it’s the crazier, looser stuff that really sets my heart pounding.

As a “crafter,”
I tend to be more careful.
I mostly crochet, needle felt, knit and sew.
I try NEVER to mix glue with my fibers.
I follow patterns.
I like the cute stuff.

Until now,
I’ve kept my “arts” and “crafts” separate.

So what’s changed?

A few weeks back, a fiber artist friend asked if I’d like to participate in a fiber art exhibit.
I was intrigued.
But a little worried.
For me, working with fibers is strictly a crafty kind of thing.
“Crafty” as in kitschy and cutesy.
How could simple embroidery or amigurumi stand side by side with fiber art?
I was intimidated.
But what the hec.
I said “yes” anyway.

I pulled out embroidery floss, felt, yarn, wire and roving.
I used wire cutters, pliers, crochet hooks, embroidery and felting needles.
I crafted my heart out.
…And I made something that (gulp) might actually be classified as “art.”

My fiber sculpture is called “Out on a Limb.”
It will be on display at the TEXTURES exhibit at C3 Lab this Friday (Jan 5, 7-10pm).

I’m still worried about it being more “crafty” than “artsy.”
But you know what?
I worked really hard on it.
So call it art or craft,
I’m proud of this little sculpture.