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An Eye for Art: For Sykesville’s Leah Wickes, macramé is a path to a peaceful place

Whether it’s beaded jewelry, interior design or her current interest, macramé, art has always been a central part of Leah Wickes’ life.

“It’s easy to say art not only ran through my blood but I was surrounded by its beauty in multiple ways throughout my life,” explained the Sykesville resident. “When I think of a life without a creative outlet, it sounds utterly boring and depressing. Creating art takes me to my happy place, a place that is calming and peaceful where I can let my imagination run free.”

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Wickes is a local craftswoman and artist. She became interested in art when she was only 3 years old. She was inspired by her mother and father who were both artists. The first art she remembers creating was finger painting.

Leah Wickes creates a macramé chandelier.
Leah Wickes creates a macramé chandelier. (Lyndi McNulty)

Marge Wickes, her mother, attended Maryland Institute College of Art. Her father, Gordon Wickes, attended Le Millet Art School.

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Wickes studied fashion design at Westminster High School and the Career and Tech Center. “I have always been interested in art, it was the one thing I excelled at through school,” Wickes said.

Wickes attended Carroll Community College and took several art-related classes including drawing, 2D Design, 3D design, color, photography and graphics.

An assortment of micro macramé beaded bracelets by Leah Wickes.
An assortment of micro macramé beaded bracelets by Leah Wickes. (Lyndi McNulty)

Wickes started making beaded jewelry when she was 15 years old and continued until a year ago. She also made jewelry from silverware, one of her favorite crafts. Wickes’ creative hobbies throughout her life have been sewing, photography, loom knitting, crocheting, floral design (silk flower arrangements, silk flower wreaths), drawing and painting and, most recently, resin and alcohol ink projects.

Wickes is currently enrolled in an online interior design course through the New York Institute of Art and Design.

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In 2018, Wickes became interested in macramé. Popular as a craft in the 1960s and ′70s, macramé is experiencing a revival. It’s an art form that uses various types of cording and knotting sequences that can make useful household items such as plant hangers, wall hangings, purses, table runners and more.

Knots were used in the 13th century by Arab weavers to finish the ends of hand-woven carpets, shawls and textiles. As early as the 3rd century in China, ceremonial textiles and wall hangings were adorned with decorative knots.

A pomegranate macramé hanging shelf by Leah Wickes.
A pomegranate macramé hanging shelf by Leah Wickes. (Lyndi McNulty)

“My most favorite macramé projects are wall hangings. When I first began, I started small and now I have worked my way up to larger pieces,” Wickes said.

One of her largest commissions has been for a wedding. “I designed and created macramé chandeliers in three different sizes. The largest chandelier measured 32 inches wide. The macramé chandeliers were suspended in the air by a rope. I also made a macramé backdrop that was placed under a beautiful vintage arched window. The piece was hung between two trees in the woods where the wedding ceremony took place,” Wickes said.

Wickes can make macramé items in any color. She uses different widths of cording when she is creating. The cording can come in single twist and triple twist. Both styles can be brushed out into a beautiful fringe.

Wickes uses wooden rods, tree branches, and a variety of items to hang the cords on. She has even made macramé wall hangings on deer antlers.

One of her most popular items is a macramé mandala dream catcher. Wickes made the item using three different sized metal rings with added wooden beads and handmade feathers.

Macrame jar covers by Leah Wickes.
Macrame jar covers by Leah Wickes. (Lyndi McNulty)

“Making macramé art helps me relax. It is peaceful. I enjoy the endless creativity and versatility that comes with the craft,” Wickes said. “I never would have guessed years ago that I would have gotten into macramé. I picked it up and I love it.”

“I hope to add my own how-to videos on social media and create a website to show my work. As an artist, I want to create larger scale macramé fiber art creations with more variations of color,” Wickes said. “In the future I plan to take macramé commissions and to participate in craft shows.”

Wickes work can be found online at @Freespiritfiberz on Instagram and Facebook.

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.

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