May Sterchi of Himo Art creates a stunning and unique take on the tradition of macramé from her home studio in San Diego, California. Although, I couldn't make it out to San Diego for a studio visit, May was so sweet to send some photographs and share her story.
May's love of the craft began in 2009 when she found a beautiful vintage macramé piece on eBay (see below) while looking for art to fill her home that she and her husband were remodeling themselves. She immediately fell in love with macramé, and from there, taught herself through vintage pattern books.
May: I became addicted to ropes since then and seems like there is no end to it ;-) It didn’t take long to start making my own designs after I learned the basic skills because I realized that it is much harder to try to recreate someone else's work than to make my own designs! I started my Etsy shop in April 2013. Etsy is such a wonderful place for crafters and artists. All of my opportunities have come through people finding me there.
What does "Himo" mean?
HIMO means 'string' or 'cord' in Japanese.
What materials do you use in your work? What do you enjoy experimenting with?
100% cotton rope, 100% cotton cords, jute, sisal, various yarns, beads, brass, wood dowels, acrylic rods, aluminum, branches, rings, acrylic paints . . .
The vintage purchase that sparked May's journey into macramé.
May's grandparent's shrine in their backyard
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Most of my inspiration comes from my childhood memories. I was born in and grew up in Japan. As a child, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents house. My grandfather was a priest in Mt. Fuji and there was a shrine in his backyard. It's over 200 years old and was one of my favorite places. I came up with a lot of imaginary stories about the shrine (see photo above): talismans, the gate, the pond. . . . Everything I saw there inspired me to be creative with no limits! I very much enjoy the feeling of being free. I was a weird kid! Those memories remain vividly with me and I will never forget. This is nice since it allows me to feel very close to my grandparents even though they are not with me anymore. And I often find my inspiration from the things I love such as ocean, nature, shapes, colors and beautiful things that catch my eye in daily life.
What artists do you admire?
I love watching movies and often find inspiration from the story or particular scenes. My latest collection for Urban Outfitters was the imagination story that was inspired by the movies of Hayao Miyazaki. I have been a huge fan of his since I was a kid. I get a lot inspiration from musicians as well. One macramé series called “The Rhythm” was inspired by the voice of Bobby McFerrin. I once made called “Fretless Beat” a rope art piece inspired by the one of the greatest bassists, Jaco Pastorius.
Whenever I meet mama artists and designers, I am always so curious about how they balance their work with family. As I've mentioned before, Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo has some really lovely interviews into the work / life balance topic.
How did you meet your husband?
I met my husband about 15 years ago in my home town in Japan. I was playing a saxophone in a band and he was in the audience. We didn’t speak each other's language back then, but somehow it all worked out and we've been together ever since. We were married in 2002. He was planning to stay only a year but ended up living in Japan for over six years.
How do you balance motherhood with macramé? Is this your full-time practice?
I spend a lot of time on making the wall hangings, researching and looking for inspiration throughout the day, so I could say it is full time. However when my daughter is home, she is the no. 1 priority for me. She just started Kindergarten. I'm so excited but at the same time I wish that time could slow down a little bit. (me, too!)
Does your daughter enjoy making projects with you?
She likes to see what I made and gives me a lot of encouragement. She'll say, "You did well Mommy! I love it!" It is so nice to see her excitement. She's showing some interest in knotting and I look forward to enjoying this together when she becomes old enough to learn.
What do you do together for fun around town?
I love spending time at the beach with my family.
I've been such a fan of May's intricate and creative take on macramé, play with color, shapes, space and the thoughtful names that go with each piece. I loved getting a peek into her studio and hearing how she manages the balance of motherhood, her craft, creativity and reflections on her journey.
Thank you so much, May!!
Her intricate and beautiful work can be found on her website, himoart.com and Etsy shop, etsy.com/shop/himoart
all images courtesy of May Sterchi