Practicality never comes to mind when I hear the word macramé. Most often I recall gaudy interior designs from the 1970s, not the sailors and artisans from centuries ago using various knots to create covers for knife handles, bottles and to literally tie up loose ends.
Decorations have always been a part of macramé; the Victorian era is most notable for using macramé in decoration. It tends to go in and out of style.
If history repeats itself, macramé is back.
Rebecca Stevens was born and raised in a small town outside of Beaumont. She was so anxious to get out of her small town that she never toured or visited the University of Houston campus. Upon acceptance, she just showed up for orientation. That’s probably when she found out what the mascot was, too.
Stevens now creates woven and macramé wall hangings on handmade looms. Like many artists, Stevens started creating to relax and, before long, a new career was born.
AV: What’s your background?
RS: “I was the (vice president) for a small startup at age 25. It was exciting but so, so stressful. It’s funny to think about it now because I am extremely introverted. I’d get home from work and be totally exhausted, and now I realize that comes from being an introvert. My outlet from my sales job was to craft. Daily. I would go to Hobby Lobby on my lunch breaks and pick out what I would make that evening. I started making furniture and was encouraged by my husband to put some items online for sale. I got seven orders the first week, which sounds great, but it was actually a huge logistical nightmare. We figured out how to fill the orders and ship the items safely, and I quit my job two weeks later. I’ve been Stevens Home Furnishings ever since.”
AV: How did macramé come about?
RS: “It was strangely kind of forced on me in a cosmic way. I had to walk away from woodworking last year. My husband and I are trying to start a family. I have been on a fertility journey for some time now. After a few surgeries in 2018, I’ve had to prioritize my health and reevaluate my work environment. It was time to postpone the woodworking and get away from all those toxic materials and fumes and sawdust.
“I stumbled upon the art of weaving in the last year. I bought three woven tapestries from a local discount store. They weren’t great, but yeah, they were cheap. I started thinking, ‘I want to add texture to these. I want these to pop off the walls. They’re just so … boring.’ So the gears started turning. I wanted to make tapestries that I would want hanging in my own home. So I just started weaving. It felt natural to me.
I love the freedom of it. With wood, mistakes weren’t very forgiving. But with weaving, there are no mistakes. Sometimes a piece doesn’t turn out as I intended, but I keep going, and more often than not, I’m pleased with the outcome.
“I love working with color. Don’t get me wrong, my walls are painted gray and my house is riddled with neutrals just like any other 30-year-old with a Pinterest account. But with weaving, I can spend hours and hours inside a color combination that I’ve hand-selected, and it’s so fun and energizing.”
AV: Any of your work stand out?
RS: “I do have a Succulent Series that I favor. It’s meant to be a substitute for houseplants that you can’t kill.”
AV: Anything surprisingly unusual about you that might shock us?
RS: “I played Australian Rules Football at Nationals in the USAFL (United States Australian Football League). It’s an awesome sport that I’ll never play again!”
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards, find him at ArtValet.com