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Photo of Sonya with hands in pockets & t-shirt that reads "Very Asian" standing next to a twisty fiber wall sculpture.

3rd Newsletter: Interview with fiber artist, Sonya Benham!

Today I'm interviewing practicing fiber artist & teaching artist Sonya Benham!! Sonya creates masterful textile work that you have to see for yourself. We worked on a mini-macrame kit collaboration so you can try your hand at macrame! Scroll to the end for more info.

How would you describe your work?

This is a really tough question for me because my work is a bit eclectic. It sometimes has a very clean aesthetic and other times it’s freer. I would say that the vast majority of my work offers competing textures for visual contrast and subtle, balanced asymmetry.


Macrame wall hanging in oranges, greens, golds & natural cord


You went to art school, but weren’t focused on fiber, right? How did you make your way to macrame & fiber art?

I actually cracked from parental pressure and went to Liberal Arts school but I did study art there. I had a joint concentration in painting and photography, though I took a weaving class in college and one of my first jobs out of school was at a textile history museum. I started focusing on fiber art much later in life. I was doing a bit of writing for the blog Merriment Design reviewing some craft books. I borrowed a book on macrame from Kathy Beymer, owner of the site, and the rest was history.


 Knotted wall hanging. Top half is natural cord, bottom half is dyed grey.


How do you get the ideas for your artwork? Can you describe your creative process? 

Ideas come at me from a few different directions. Foremost, my environment. I live in Chicago, so it’s urban and structured and there’s lots of cement, brick, gates, grit. But where I live, it’s also got a lot of access to nature. I really love this combination! I take a lot of photos when I go for walks with my dog or on my commute - whenever I see an interesting texture or color combination. 

Additionally, I doodle, I create mini sketchbook collages, I wake up with ideas and keep paper and pencil on my nightstand. I look at a lot of art by artists, never to copy but to be inspired. Creativity ignites creativity.


Wall hanging: white rope hanging off a piece of driftwood with 2 columns of knots in the middle.


How do you balance the business side of selling your work with the creative side of making the work? 


Truly. I have to repeat to myself, “If you don’t list it, no one can buy it.” I make lists of things to accomplish and feel motivated to cross them off. Otherwise, I’d just make stuff all day and ignore the rest.


Macramed snake wall hanging


This obviously relates to question 2, but do you have any general thoughts on inspiration for our readers?

Really spend time looking. Looking at nature, looking at art, looking at all the ordinary things you pass by in a day and identify the parts that excite you. That, and keep a sketchbook and use it. 


Golden yellow flower heads, macramed together


Photo of Sonya with a macrame wall hanging. The bottom is dyed blue. 


When I asked Sonya to collaborate on a Mini Macrame kit, I had no idea how much work this would entail on her end. She created TWO original patterns & recreated them on the computer as worksheets (I have no idea how she did this, when you see them, you'll understand), filmed herself making them so everyone who bought one would have video tutorials, created 3 hand-drawn illustrated worksheets on the knots she used, created an instruction sheet for dip dyeing your projects, hand-measured all of the string & created "hanks" (I questioned if this was a real word, but it is) so you can just gently pull the end of the string & the rest stays nice & neat. Obviously she also figured out what would need to go into the kit. So I just want to say a big THANK YOU to Sonya who really thought of everything so you could fall in love with macrame too.


Photo of everything in the Mini Macrame X2 kit. Links to the kit. Photo shows a hank of macrame rope, a mini Macrame board, 2 dowel rods, flexible measuring tape, Rit dye, all on top of printouts of all of the instructions

Mini Macrame Kit X2

You can see supplies in the kit in the above photo (without the link to the private video tutorials). Create one for yourself, one for a friend. We made a very limited supply, so order soon if you want it! Kit is on sale!


Finished examples of the 2 macrame patterns in the kit

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