#createinsummer - a hashtag challenge project with macrame artist, Isabella Strambio

A beautiful macrame plant hanger from Isabella Strambio and a turquoise ombre sea-inspired porcelain plant pot are the prize for this month’s #createinsummer hashtag challenge

A beautiful macrame plant hanger from Isabella Strambio and a turquoise ombre sea-inspired porcelain plant pot are the prize for this month’s #createinsummer hashtag challenge

Does it feel like summer yet to you? To me the spring is all about daffodils, bluebells and lilac - with longer days, bright sunshine but you still don’t want to forget to take a coat (especially in the evening). By the time we’ve said goodbye to May I’m more than ready to embrace summer even though its official solstice doesn’t take place until 21 June.

So carrying on with my tradition, I want to encourage makers to share what they are up to in ‘summer’ and to show how the current season is influencing their makes. This may be what they are actually making or even how they are photographing their work.

For this month’s installment of #createinsummer I’m going to turn the spotlight onto Isabella Strambio, known as @_twome on Instagram, a macrame artist who teaches both macrame and natural dyeing and who wants to encourage creativity in people’s lives as an aspect of self-care. She will also be my guest judge and at the end of the month will select her favourite makers from the gallery, one of which will win this month’s prize.

#createinsummer for me

Before I introduce Isabella, I wanted to give you a quick flavour of what I’ve been up to and how for me, the onset of summer is definitely about celebrating greenery both inside and outside the home.

Staying close to nature is something I feel quite strongly about. It always grounds me to get outside, feel the sunshine on my face, and observe some quiet time appreciating which flowers are in bloom. Its a habit I got into after having children to get out into open space more, and its something that can bring many positive feelings especially if you have suffered from depression or are experiencing a low period.

Gardening is also a hobby that I spend more time doing. Growing your own flowers can be such a rewarding activity and I’ve been making some limited edition porcelain bud-vases of the right size for garden snippets or wildflowers.

Image of my new sun-rise bud-vase, taken on a recent visit to Kew Gardens

Image of my new sun-rise bud-vase, taken on a recent visit to Kew Gardens

Close-up of the sun-rise vase at Kew Gardens. (Hand model Kate of  @graceandflora )

Close-up of the sun-rise vase at Kew Gardens. (Hand model Kate of @graceandflora)

As well as beautiful sky scenes, the palette of the ocean has been a new source of inspiration, and a vase which I think will form part of my permanent collection is my new sea-breeze vessel, encapsulating the blues of the ocean, and the froth of sea-foam.

‘Sea-breeze’ bud vase taken on a Devonshire stone wall, overlooking the sea at Blackpool Sands.

‘Sea-breeze’ bud vase taken on a Devonshire stone wall, overlooking the sea at Blackpool Sands.

If I’m honest I’ve also been working on lots of other projects, including some personal ones and some commissions. I’ve been finding it hard to find focus, as there are so many new shapes and ideas that I’m experimenting with from tea bowls, to tiny and cereal bowls, as well as teapot shapes, candle holders, travel mugs, new glazes, gold lustre and black clay….

But for #createinsummer Isabella and I are going to offer a joint prize for this month’s Instagram challenge. A turquoise ombre plant pot in a beautiful macrame hanger.

Close-up of the collaborative prize from Kt Robbins Ceramics and Isabella Strambio.

Close-up of the collaborative prize from Kt Robbins Ceramics and Isabella Strambio.

Close-up of the collaborative prize from Kt Robbins Ceramics and Isabella Strambio

Close-up of the collaborative prize from Kt Robbins Ceramics and Isabella Strambio

Interview with Isabella Strambio

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Can you describe what different kinds of art-work you produce? And your process?

I make macrame and natural dye products. From macrame wall hanging and backdrops for weddings to naturally dyed aprons and silk ribbons. I love to use natural materials and textures. My process is very fluid and depending on the project I am working on it adapts. The link between all of them is to be unique, environmentally conscious and as natural as possible.

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Macrame has quite a lot of history as a traditional craft  - how have you modernised it to suit your style?

I use patterns that are modern and have clean lines and patterns, and I mostly use natural colour string too.

Contemporary feather macrame hangings/charms

Contemporary feather macrame hangings/charms

When did you start this work? What’s been your creative journey?

I started macrame over 3 years ago. A friend taught me one knot and I got hooked. At the time I just started my blog following my journey to learn 12 crafts in 12 months. Macrame was the first craft and after about 6 months people start asking me to teach and I hosted my first workshop. It sold out and from then on I have been teaching monthly at different venues, event, and colleges in London and the south of England.

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I understand you run a macrame community. Do you want to tell us a bit more about it?

I have a macrame community membership for all the students that have attended my workshops or online course. It's a membership for the people that want to continue and develop their macrame journey. Some of my students now have their own Etsy shop, attend artisan markets and run workshops. 

You run 'Macrame for beginners' online course 3 times per year. When did you decide to start teaching online?

I realized that many students couldn't attend my live workshops because they were living too far or in a different country/continent, but were still keen to learn from me. On top of that some people wanted to learn macrame in more depth and the course, which runs for 4 weeks, gives the opportunity to learn and master the foundation of macrame. I always looking forward to my online course because I get to teach people from all over the world and get to know my students very well. My next course will take place end of the summer.

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Do you have any workshops coming up?

Yes, you can check all the dates on my website www.twome.co.uk

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What’s been your favourite commission piece?

I am working on it at the moment and it's a secret!

Macrame shelf by Isabella Strambio featuring mint green bud-vase by Kt Robbins Ceramics

Macrame shelf by Isabella Strambio featuring mint green bud-vase by Kt Robbins Ceramics

Why do you view craft as an important element of self-care?

I believe everyone has a creative side that should be used daily/regularly. Crafts are a brilliant way for us to get into a habit of expressing our creativity. By having a project (eg. macrame wall hanging, a painting, knitting a scarf, making earrings...) you will find time during your day to dedicate to your craft. It doesn’t matter if it’s 5 minutes or 2 hours, the fact that you can focus on something creative will help you relax and be more mindful which will make you happier. For me macrame/crafts are like yoga for your mind.
— Isabella Strambio

How do you juggle being a Mom, having young children and producing your best work?

I work when the kids are at school, 3 days a week from 9-3. I try to be as efficient as possible with the time I have. I have a list of tasks to achieve daily and I work towards those. Because of the time restriction, I had to learn to say no to projects/collaborations that are not worth my time. 

Some favourites from #createinspring

Thank-you to everyone who joined in with #createinspring - the gallery was filled with inspirational images.. Here are just a few:

A beautiful rainbow of blooms from @autumnraspberry

A beautiful rainbow of blooms from @autumnraspberry

Exquisite heirloom dolls from @katylivings

Exquisite heirloom dolls from @katylivings

Delicate floral watercolours from calligraphy artist @mathildalundin

Delicate floral watercolours from calligraphy artist @mathildalundin

Gorgeous floral display from @sweepearosa

Gorgeous floral display from @sweepearosa

I’m really looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with for #createinsummer. Only images that tag myself (@ceramicmagpie) and, my guest judge, @_twome will be eligible to win the prize. Here are a few other images of this unique prize of macrame hanger with one of my turquoise ombre plant pots.

#createinsummer collaborative prize by Isabella Strambio and Kt Robbins Ceramics

#createinsummer collaborative prize by Isabella Strambio and Kt Robbins Ceramics

#createinsummer collaborative prize - macrame planter with turquoise ombre plant pot from @_twome and @ceramicmagpie

#createinsummer collaborative prize - macrame planter with turquoise ombre plant pot from @_twome and @ceramicmagpie

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments then do let me know

Best wishes,

Katie