Was it really all the way back in April that I first met macrame marvel Maggie May? Six whole months?
A regular little feature on the many, many people I find ridiculously cool and creative has been on the cards for almost as long as the ‘Spoon has been (metaphorically) alive and kicking, and I couldn’t think of a better person to begin with than Maggie.
I sent her some silly questions; she gave me some brilliant answers; and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did!
Introduce yourself! Who are you and where are you from?
I’m Maggie May. I’m a Macramé maker, graphic designer and stylist for my business, The Middle Aisle in Melbourne.
What’s your creative outlet? How did you discover it?
Macramé! I discovered it when an old housemate’s girlfriend made two little plant hangers in our old home. I saw them and was immediately drawn the craft and started researching it and looking at all the Macramé online that I could see. I’d walk into op-shops and go straight to the ‘craft’ book section and buy anything I could find on Macramé.
What does your typical ‘day-in-the-life’ look like?
I don’t really have a ‘typical’ day. My life is pretty variable and I’m constantly doing different things. I try and make Macramé everyday, that’s really tricky when I balance working a part time job and maintain a social life.
I can get quite bad anxiety when I don’t feel like I’m in control of my life and Macramé is a wonderful way for me to ‘check back in’ with myself and remember that it’s all going to be ok. Living a creative life doesn’t have a roadmap and that is absolutely terrifying. I know that if I just take things one day at a time and keep working towards small goals then I’ll be creatively fulfilled and challenged.
What do you do for inspiration? What removes your creative block?
I listen to music, watch documentaries, go for walks, visit art galleries, hang out with my friends, chat to other creative people and get out of the house. I know if I’m working on a big Macramé piece that there will be moments in it where I’ll be frustrated by my own abilities or I’ll start judging myself too harshly. An important thing to remember is that you have to be kind to yourself and not force things to happen. It’s easy to confuse ‘working hard’ with forcing yourself to create, if I feel frustrated or anxious I stop what I’m doing and have a cup or tea or take a break from what I’m doing.
What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve had to overcome while pursuing your passion?
Learning to listen to critique from people. I still struggle with this every day. I’m a very emotional person and put 100% of myself into everything I do. Learning to accept critique as a gift rather than something to negatively dwell on is a hard lesson. We can always learn more and expecting yourself to get everything right all the time is unrealistic. We’re human, we make mistakes and we learn by doing.
There is a whole world of people out their with their own life experiences and expectations.
What’s been the most rewarding thing?
When I finished my first really big Macramé wall backdrop. It used over 500 meters of rope and it was the most rope I’d ever cut. It also really affirmed that I didn’t want to use pre decided patterns with my work and that following my creativity to improvise whilst creating was more rewarding.
All my work is improvised. I don’t use patterns or decide what I want to do prior to making something. I have 900 meters of rope on the wall in my studio at the moment that is being knotted into a massive wedding arch, I’m excited to see how I feel at the end of that!
What’s on your ‘creative bucket list’? What things would you like to achieve?
I’d like to travel around Australia and teach Macramé as I go. I’m really just taking everything a day a time at the moment though. The next big thing I’m working towards is hosting a ‘make your own macramé’ stall at Strawberry Fields Festival in November.
You’re extremely talented at both macrame and design — what’s something you’re absolutely terrible at?
I’m terrible at communication. I’m dyslexic and writing emails is a bit of a challenge for me. I get anxiety about it and have to shut off the voices of my primary school teachers telling me that I’m stupid or not trying hard enough. Organisation is also something I really have to work on…
My creativity always felt like a genuine way of expressing myself growing up and as I got older I really focused on it. Dyslexia can be frustrating because I can pick other things up (like Macramé) quickly but I still write letters around the wrong way… You would never know I’m dyslexic but I’ve been asked for written instructions on Macramé before and whilst I can show someone physically writing it down it terrifies me!
What do you doodle while daydreaming / on the phone?
I always pace around the room when I’m on the phone!
I tend to grab pieces of rope and start playing with them when I’m daydreaming. There is always some close by in my handbag or pocket…
We’re meeting up for a coffee at your favourite place — where are we and what are you drinking?
Everyday Coffee on Johnston Street, Collingwood. They have fantastic filter coffee and bagels with cream cheese.
My boyfriend introduced me to filter coffee kicking and screaming in 2014, and now it’s my favourite thing. Part of my anxiety is also rooted in a huge desire to control the food I eat because I have some serious food allergies.
I love food and cooking so one of my 2016 goals was to be less anxious and more assertive about my allergies, which meant I would be more open to trying new places, rather than sticking with the places I was comfortable. 2016 has been a big year.