Macramé used to be a pretty trendy craft. In the ‘70s, a lot of people were making their own decorative items, like macramé owls and hanging potted plants. Macramé is really just the art of knot tying. But it goes back much farther than the 1970s, and now it seems to be experiencing a kind of Renaissance as a form of fiber art. Karen-Lisa Forbes is a contemporary macramé artist. She lives in Bemidji and makes macramé jewelry using the Cavandoli style. With no formal training in the arts she feels she is the vessel rather than the originator of her art; the art moves through her and uses her to manifest itself. After being introduced to this form of macramé in 2009 when she met local macramé artist Dawn Standera she’s since take two workshops (24 hours total) in Cavendoli knotting. Working in .5mm C-lon nylon or 1mm Settanyl waxed polyester and watching pieces emerge one half-hitch knot at a time is both mesmerizing and meditative. She only roughly sketches each piece, using drawings merely as jumping off points. What she enjoys most is allowing the cord to dictate the piece. Her job is to follow where it wants to go and learn what it will and will not do.
Best described as “organic in nature”, her style falls under the category of Impressionist/Abstractionism; although she prefers the less fancy title of “knotted nature looking stuff.” Karen-Lisa’s knotting is often mistaken for beadwork, because the knots are so small and so close together. Inspiration for her designs comes from a deep love of the natural world in Northern Minnesota. Fascinated with the geometry and symmetry, chaos and order found in nature, Karen-Lisa’s eye seeks out and draws me to small details and the discovery of the extraordinary in the ordinary. She admires the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, Piet Mondrian, Georgia O’Keefe, Franz Marc and Lawren Harris from Canadian Group of Seven.