Tying ropes and knots are extremely practical skills and can also be used in creative work, thanks to their versatility and varied applications. Personally, I have tried my hand at string art by making friendship bracelets with classmates.
Hanisah Johari, the lead artist behind Condimentstrings – the brand under her company, Condiment Studio – shared a similar experience as a child. Since then, his passion for the art of twine has blossomed in massive installations of macrame (the art of tying twine in patterns to make decorative items) for weddings, home decor, workshops. string art and creative arts festivals.
Speaking to Vulcan Post, the former multimedia graduate revealed that it all started in the attic of her parents’ house.
Art in the attic
A few months after their marriage, Hanisah and her husband, Ahmad Syahmi, began their life together by moving into her parents’ attic. The duo spent their time creating murals and paintings, collecting houseplants, and making different crafts together.
With an ever-growing collection of houseplants and limited space, they discovered plant hangers that could be made to organize them indoors. After sharing their creations online “just for fun”, her post received overwhelming support, where interested shoppers requested to have them as well.
“After a few pieces, I gained confidence and joined our first local thrift market at APW Bangsar in 2017. During the market, we completely sold out our first batch of macrame wall hangers,” recalls Hanisah. .
She described this event as the defining moment that encouraged her to go further with this potential business, as she had found her true calling.
The macrame artist quickly got pregnant and realized that her new family would need more space to accommodate the upcoming newborn. It was his tipping point to finally launch Condiment Studio in 2018.
“We wanted to have a space and a place to continue creating more art together, presenting the works, while living and raising the family in the same environment,” added Hanisah.
So when they opened the studio, the family of 3 left the attic and started their creative adventure in their new home which also served as an office.
Macrame is an art form with a long history behind it. Sailors made macrame items without being busy at sea and sold them when they landed. Thus, they disseminated the art in places like Asia and the Americas.
Its popularity will fade over the decades and was recently brought back as a trend by millennials, who just like Hanisah used it to hang houseplants.
For the founder, her interest in creating macrame decors and furniture is supported by the versatility of design and skills that seem endless. “My art is an exploration of texture, dimension and scale, in which traditional techniques such as knotting, hanging and weaving are applied to create expressive and fluid forms,” a-t- she declared.
Before sitting down to tie something together, Hanisah perused the designs created by other artists, just to get visions for how the piece might end up. Then she began to illustrate the makeup of her vision for clients.
“I will generally draw towards the elements of nature, also gradations of colors that evolve naturally around us, and express it on a canvas of natural cotton ropes,” she described.
Hanisah said that there were 2 essences that helped her keep going while knitting the cotton ropes together: common sense of mind and positive thinking.
They were important because self-doubt tends to cloud her mind as she spends time on a drawing, as she confessed: “What usually crosses my mind? by tying them together, which model should I make next? Will it turn out as I imagined? What if I make a mistake? ”
“All of these mind games usually fill my thinking space, trying to convince me that I can’t do it. It’s really hard to be honest. ”
However, with practice and care in creating the pieces, Hanisah is able to overcome her anxiety by accepting the results that her work can bring. “Because the most important thing is to be gentle with myself, to embrace beauty in so many possible ways,” she told Vulcan Post.
A team of 2
Today, the team behind Condimentstrings consists entirely of Hanisah and Syahmi. Depending on the size of the macrame they were commissioned to create, the couple would hire a few other artists and friends to help tie the strings together.
Hanisah shared that most of her projects include wall decorations, display cases, wedding backdrops, as well as larger scale installations. So far, she has made macrame installations commissioned by Oppo Malaysia (exhibited in Sunway Pyramid), Good Vibes Fest and Urbanscapes.
Of course, all of these installations took place in 2019, before COVID-19 brought the event industry to a halt. Thus, the team of 2 is now focusing on interior design projects for the B2C market.
Hanisah’s short-term goal is also straightforward, sharing that she just hopes to continue to survive in these strange times. “On a serious note, one of my biggest goals is to be able to exhibit and work alongside international fiber artists to create a large-scale installation or artwork,” she added. .
- You can read more about Condimentstrings here.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Hanisah Johari and Ahmad Syahmi, Co-Founders of Condimentstrings
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