art

Spotlight On: Melissa O'Boyle of Bow to the East

Webster's Dictionary defines macrame as "a coarse lace or fringe made by knotting threads or cords in a geometrical pattern; also  :  the art of tying knots in patterns". See also, pretty, stylish, relaxing, and useful

I kid. I'm not about to make this spotlight into an 8th grade running for class president speech. What I AM going to make this post about is Melissa O'Boyle, her beautiful face, and her lovely macrame stylings. 

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa with our new and improved set of "Spotlight" questions, did the ole' snappity snap with the camera, and came away totally inspired. Her work is gorgeous and we couldn't wait to find out more about what makes her tick--I bet you can't either. OK, on to the interview!

Gimme! Photo by Christina Wedge

Gimme! Photo by Christina Wedge

Who is your design or art crush?

The artists and designers that I crush on the most are my peers and emerging artists I find on Instagram and at local shops, festivals and galleries.  They inspire me to showcase my work and to think outside any limits I have created.  It is amazing how much amazing talent is out there all around us.

Again, gimme. Photo by Christina Wedge

Again, gimme. Photo by Christina Wedge

What three words would describe your aesthetic?

Organic, Rhythmical, and Tranquil

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Which of your career milestones makes you most proud?

I was very proud when I was asked to put my work up in the Downtown Seattle West Elm in 2014 as well in the West Elm Ponce City Market in Atlanta in 2016.

In 2015, I was commissioned to make 8 large window hangings for a restaurant in Austin, TexasIt is an excellent Latin Coastal Kitchen in Austin’s SoCo neighborhood with great exposure. www.alcomaratx.com. Everything on the menu is amazing including fresh squeezed fruit margaritas.

In 2015 I was also asked to host my first workshop.  Teaching workshops opened a whole other door for me. I absolutely love sharing my passion for macrame. I have two workshops coming up in Atlanta.
March 8th - https://www.eventbrite.com/e/intro-to-macrame-at-west-elm-tickets-31595057668
April 12th -  http://garagedoorstudio.com/events/intro-to-macrame/

How did you take the leap towards a creative career?

The way that my macrame work came into fruition is an interesting and serendipitous story.  One day I found an old book at a used bookstore that gave instructions on macrame.  This refreshed my memory of what I had been taught by a high school art teacher.  At the time I was living in a lovely little cabin-like cottage on the Puget Sound in Seattle.  All the walls were wood paneling which was pretty outdated although it has some charm.  I made my first large scale macrame wall hanging for myself to soften the space. I had a friend from Atlanta see a picture of it on social media and she asked me to make her a wall hanging.  Once I was finished I had it all wrapped up and I went to a custom shipping spot, The Sip and Ship, to get a custom box made.   www.sipandship.com.  The owner asked what was in my wrapped up fabric.  I showed her a picture. She loved it and directed me to go to West Elm and show them my work because they feature local artists. West Elm asked me to make a wall hanging to put up in the store as well as have a pop up shop.  That prompted me to make a number of plant hangers and smaller wall hangings.  The ones I did not sell I put on Etsy. About 6 months later a marketing manager for a restaurant group in Austin Texas found me on Etsy and commissioned me to make eight 6’ x6’ wall hangings that are permanently on display in the hip restaurant. I’ve gotten a number of jobs from people that see my work in that restaurant and ask me to commission work for their homes.    The beauty of the unfolding of these events has me feeling very blessed.  It’s amazing how things happen so much easier when there is no pressure to make things work.
When things started happening for me and my macrame without much effort and mostly through word of mouth, I eventually started to put more and more energy into marketing my work. It’s very gratifying to be able to work for myself being creative.

How do you balance work and play?

 I have learned in my travels and soul searching that anything that feels like you are a fish going up stream is a waste of energy.  Of course, we have to put a certain amount of effort into our lives, but things are for the most part supposed to feel good. One of my favorite ways of balancing working and playing is to have a free day and have a little local adventure. To me, that means picking a neighborhood in the city I haven’t been to in a while and just walking around with no plan or expectation. I might walk in the boutiques to get inspiration and design ideas, browse through a used bookstore, and sit at coffee shop reading and people watching. Almost anytime I have a day like this I meet the most interesting people and find the most amazing little treasures.

If you could live in any place or era, what would it be?

 I would love to live in the seventies. I’m admittedly a little bit of a hippie at heart. Music was revolutionized at this time as were so many other parts of American culture.  The style was characterized by *playful embellishment and radical experimentation with form*. The women’s rights movement made significant strides in the 1970’s and took a prominent role within society.   All in all, it just sounds like a lot of fun!

Chocolate or wine?

Why can’t I have both? haha. If I had to choose I’d go with wine.  It could be red, rose, or a bubbly.  I like them all!

How did you come up with the name Bow to the East?

On one of my little day adventures I came across an amazing book called the Woodstock Craftsman’s Manual. This book is straight out of the seventies and gives instructions, with great hand-drawn pictures teaching Weaving, Pottery, Macrame, Beads, Leather, Tie-Dye & batik, Embroidery, Silkscreen, Home Recording, Candles, and Crochet.  On the cover is a drawing of hands making macrame and it looks just like something I made in high school when I first learned the technique.

In the section on macrame it starts out with this great tidbit:

“It’s emphasis on rhythmic control has a stabilizing effect that has led some of the world’s foremost statesman like Churchill and De Gaulle to find soothing relaxation in both knitting and knotting. It can be satisfying therapy for those who see their larger problems in terms of confused strands and loose, fraying ends." ~excerpt from Paul Schwartz in Woodstock Craftsman’s Manual

The chapter goes on to list everything you will need to start the process of macrame such as tools, materials, accouterments.  On the section on Planning and Preparing it states simply: Bow to the East. I just loved that. The East represents new beginnings and to me it represents home. So when I am starting a new project I seek out my old compass among my raw gemstones, I find East and do a ceremonial bow.


Thank you so much, Melissa, for your beautiful work and for your time! We are so excited to have turned the spotlight on you today and can't wait to get one of your wall hangings in our own homes!

Xoxo, Susie & Christina

Porto, Portugal

Christina’s recent trip to Porto, Portugal reminded me of why I love to travel.  I have never been to Portugal, but after seeing her pictures and hearing about the trip, it has definitely moved up the list on places I want to see in the next 5 years.

Photo By Christina Wedge

Photo By Christina Wedge

Portugal is a wonderful country sandwiched in between Spain and the coast of the Atlantic rich in culture, history and beautiful architecture.  Here were a few highlights of what do see and do while there.

Photo By Christina Wedge

Photo By Christina Wedge

Walk over the Dom Luis Bridge

This bridge is over 100 years old and for its time was an architecture feat.  The upper level is for the metro and the lower level if for pedestrians and cars.  The views from this bridge are spectacular and the views of the bridge are pretty sweet too.

Photo By Christina Wedge

Photo By Christina Wedge

Take the Duoro River Cruise

If you decide to take the Duoro River Cruise, which is definitely worth it, you can see four other magnificent bridges.  The most impressive one, the Dona Maria Pia Bridge, designed by Gustave Eiffel was one of the longest bridge spans of its time and continued to be for 7 years.  It has been designated as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.  The other bridges are Ponte do Infante, the triple-arched Ponte de São João, and Arrabida Bridge.

Photo By Christina Wedge

Photo By Christina Wedge

Explore The District of Ribeira 

Once you get off the water, checkout Ribeira.  You can start on the edges and enjoy dozens of cafes, bars and restaurants.  If you visit during a feast day, especially on Saint John’s Day in June you can enjoy one of the most lively times in the city and major fireworks shows over the water. 

Photo By Christina Wedge

Photo By Christina Wedge

The alleyways and medieval architecture makes the district of Ribeira so fun to explore. Traditional boats floating by and beautiful homes lining the edges of the river, compose such a picturesque image.

Photo By Christina Wedge

Photo By Christina Wedge

The Spanish tile roofs against the bright blue sky are enough to take your breath away.

Photo By Christina Wedge

Photo By Christina Wedge

Famous for its beautiful tile, the city is filled with accents of vibrant colors.  The buildings made of traditional tile pop throughout the city and hillsides.

Photo By Christina Wedge

Photo By Christina Wedge

Wine Tasting at Sandeman

The city of Porto is famous for its Port Wines.  At Sandeman there is a wonderful wine tasting.  Located on the Gaia hillside, they have free guided tours and tastings that will enlighten you about the delicious port wine you are enjoying while overlooking the river.

Photo By Christina Wedge

Photo By Christina Wedge

Sao Francisco Church

After you have been up and down the river and explores Ribeira, checkout the beautiful church of Sao Francisco.  From the outside it looks like an ordinary Gothic Church, but the inside will blow you away.  The inside of the church is mostly covered in gold and what is not is made of beautiful marble.

Photo By Christina Wedge

Photo By Christina Wedge

Below the church are catacombs that are now a museum that you can explore.

Via

Serraveles Museum of Contemporary Art 

This is a great place to see great art and beautiful architecture.  Designed by Alvaro Siva, the building is a beautiful exercise in integration of the existing landscape.

Cape Town, South Africa: A Photographic Exploration

As much as I love my grits, (I'm looking at you, Flying Biscuit Cafe!], and Piedmont Park, it’s fun to travel to faraway places and experience a totally different culture sometimes.  Christina recently went on a trip to Cape Town, South Africa and I am totally jealous! It looks and sounds like one of the best trips ever.   Today, I’m excited to share with you a photographic exploration of this gorgeous part of our big world.

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Can’t decide if you want to go to the mountains or the beach this year?  Cape Town has both, plus charming city life, exotic culture and adorable animals! In fact, it was selected as the No. 1 place to visit on the New York Times 52 Places to Go in 2014 list

Cape of Good Hope, photo by Christina Wedge

Cape of Good Hope, photo by Christina Wedge

Clifton Beach, photo by Christina Wedge

Clifton Beach, photo by Christina Wedge

Robben Island at Cape Town is home to these cuties, the African Penguins.  Every day they parade down to the ocean to get fish then return to their nests and feed those fish to their hungry chicks.  (You don’t want to know the details of this- yuck!)  Don’t expect to hear any musical chirping from these little guys.  They were first named the Jackass Penguin if that gives you a clue.  Robben Island is best known, though, for being the site of the prison that held Nelson Mandela.  Today you can tour the prison and learn about its history as a former leper colony among other things.

Robben Island, photos by Christina Wedge

Robben Island, photos by Christina Wedge

Ahhh, Kirstenbosch Gardens. It’s said to be the most beautiful garden in Africa.  Christina's photos of these flowers took my breath away.  Kirstenbosch is devoted to growing the indigenous plants of Africa. Set against a backdrop of mountains, it’s like heaven on earth.  If you go to Cape Town you must visit here!  Of course, when you get home you’re going to be even more disappointed in that scrawny wilted chrysanthemum sitting on your deck.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, photos by Christina Wedge

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, photos by Christina Wedge

While in South Africa, Christina was able to tour the workshop and do some photography for the Wessel Snyman Creative Gallery.  These guys specialize in exquisite framing for fine art and they often use locally sourced materials for their framing.  Their gallery is in Old Biscuit Mill development, a hub for artists and designers.  Who knew they made biscuits in South Africa?  Ha! I guess some things about the south are the same no matter where you go.  This area is perfect for finding that special piece to bring home to remember your trip.  Who wouldn’t be inspired by such a place?

Wessel Snyman Creative Gallery, photos by Christina Wedge

Wessel Snyman Creative Gallery, photos by Christina Wedge

Wessel Snyman Creative Gallery, photos by Christina Wedge

Wessel Snyman Creative Gallery, photos by Christina Wedge

The culture and history of Cape Town is lively and interesting. Tradition is upheld and celebrated.   (Click here to learn more about the history of Cape Town.) And if you’re like me, you’ll be especially taken with the local wines and scrumptious seafood. 

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Table Mountain, Photo by Christina Wedge

Table Mountain, Photo by Christina Wedge

I hope you are inspired by Cape Town, South Africa as I am!