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Success Stories : Melissa Cordstone's Macrame for Modern Artists

Creativity Success Story

A Heartfelt Search for ‘Modern & Fresh’ Led to Me Creating it Myself!

By Melissa Cordstone

MacrameFor as long as I can remember, creating and producing art has given me a way to relax and express myself and at the same time given me a true purpose in life. My family would be the first to inform you how many hours I spend creating and thinking up new ideas and I use them for that important feedback I need to take the ideas further.

I grew up with a mom who believed in magic fairy dust and leprechauns. She taught me to believe in magic and making things. She believed in entertaining kids with crafts instead of costly toys that didn't require imagination. Why waste money on toys advertised on TV when you could make something with glitter at home!?!

Her garage craft studio was filled to the brim with every color of glitter you could imagine, pipe cleaners in all sizes, pine cones, toilet paper rolls, beads galore, wire, ribbons, popsicle sticks, lace, fabric, and everything she could get her hands on. Why throw something away when it could be recycled into art?

I've tried my hand at many different crafts including oil painting, knitting, sewing, writing, and crafting. One of my favorite things to do was macrame. I would sit in her lap tying knots and she would make owl wall hangings and plant hangers while sitting around gossiping with friends. You just never know how those early experiences are going to impact you later in life.

As I grew up I'd kind of forgotten about macrame, until one day about 6 years ago when I decided to pick the craft up again. Problem was, all I could find was old school 70's looking stuff. Everything was so outdated and unappealing to me. Macrame was hot in the 70's and then interest cooled considerably after the plant hanger craze, so there was no new patterns and ideas coming out.

I began researching and collecting information as I went along, always with an eye out for anything current, modern and fresh. I happened upon Etsy, and it was like I'd hit the jackpot! Finally I was able to connect with artists that shared my vision for fresh, modern macrame.

Eventually I decided to organize everything I had found and created — photos, patterns, tips and tricks and wanted to have it all in one place. It took a long time, and each time I'd come up with something new, the information just grew and grew. This gave me the idea of creating a book for modern macrame enthusiasts. I never considered myself an author, and other than my mom, my inner circle was not very supportive of my idea. People thought I was wasting my time, and that it was just another "dreamer" idea I had. It was hard not to believe that when it began to feel like I had bitten off more than I could chew. I just had no idea how incredibly time consuming and difficult it would be to put a book together. There were many, many revisions, and often this caused me to have to start almost from scratch again. But the thing about that process was, the drafts kept getting better and better each time.

One Stop Macrame ShopA huge obstacle for me during this process was all the technical things I didn't know how to do. Creating graphics, book layout, taking photos, writing instructions someone else could follow, and just all the things you never think about the come with writing a book and editing it yourself.

Once I had completed the herculean task of putting this book together, it slowly began to dawn on me that the hard part was still to come! I needed to figure out how to market and sell my product. This required all the steps of setting myself up as a small business owner. Everything from getting accounts, a P.O. Box, applying for a business license and so forth.

In order to offer my book to customers, I needed to create a website, set up an ordering system, take photos, and learn about marketing. I found that I really enjoyed combining the two concepts of doing something I'm passionate about with marketing and business. For me, it's a great mix that is very personally rewarding.

A friend helped me create a website to sell the book, and I was pleasantly surprised at the response. I wasn't the only one looking for macrame ideas and patterns! While it has been quite an uphill battle, I have really enjoyed the process and learned so much along the way.

There is a special satisfaction that comes from earning an income while helping others to find their creative spirit. Guiding others in their creativity is something I really enjoy. I believe that you don't have to be "good" in order to create — it's a wonderful outlet that feeds the soul, where you are creating a masterpiece or simply coloring a page from a coloring book. It's a creative outlet that I feel is needed and desired by the human spirit.

With the momentum for macrame building, and a renewed interest from the fashion world, I added a blog last year as a place for enthusiasts to share their ideas and inspire readers with instructions, patterns and ideas. As a wonderful outcome, the blog has served to generate even more interest in the book. I've connected with so many crafters involved in this "underground" craft over the past couple of years. This year macrame has really started to take off as more and more designers are incorporating macrame into their clothing lines.

Another wonderful aspect to the blog has been the ability to feature macrame artists creating an income doing what they are passionate about. Etsy is a "godsend" for crafty types and allows creative people a place to connect with buyers. It's making it possible for so many to earn a part-time or in some cases full-time income from doing what they love. Not only that, but it's a way for stay-at-home moms or those without the ability to get a "regular" job can support themselves; this is something I believe very strongly in, giving people options to independence.

My final thought for readers: the Internet has created such an incredible opportunity for artists to connect with people interested in their work. As artists and creative types, it can be hard to find the right support and encouragement you need to get on the path to success. There are so many different ways to earn a living as an artist, so if you have a dream, get out there and find a way! •

© 2011 Melissa Cordstone. All rights reserved.

Melissa Cordstone grew up in California with a very artsy-craftsy mom who taught her the joys of crafting. Her first love is macrame, and after years of frustration at not finding good information on the craft, she put together a Macrame book to share with others looking for a fresh approach to the ancient craft. www.macramelovers.com.

6/9/11