BROOKINGS — Following graduation from Brookings High School in 2010, Kaitlyn (Steen) Telkamp went straight to her “day job” at First Bank & Trust here.
“I’m a ‘financial crime investigator’ by day,” she explained. “I fight fraud and all the bad guys out there trying to take everybody’s money. And then I do this (macramé) on the side; it kind of gives me the best of both realms and gets my creative juices flowing.”
Telkamp’s on-the-side macramé has proven good enough to get her juried into the Brookings Summer Arts Festival — Mackson & MODELLA, booth No. 133 — on her first try.
“It’s named after my two cats,” she said of her business name. “They’re kind of my little studio-mates.”
Telkamp explained that she was “technically born in Watertown but we moved to Brookings two weeks after I was born. So Brookings has always been home to me. My roots are deeply in Brookings.” And it’s here that she mastered the arts that got her into BSAF No. 52.
“I’ve always been really artsy. I’ve really always liked creating, especially in high school,” Telkamp said. About three years ago she started doing macramé: “I really found my niche with it, really liked it and started to share it with people. It’s kind of gone on from there.
“Even through middle school, I really, really liked my art classes. I was really drawn to them with a passion about it. In high school, I really stuck to it; the passion just grew there: drawing, photography, all of those things just really resonated with me.”
Brainstorming, creative juices
While Telkamp found her niche with macramé, she still likes drawing and loves photography. She uses those skills in doing “product pictures” of her artwork. She noted that macramé caught on the United States in the 1970s.
“It’s just a series of knots,” Telcamp said, explaining macramé in the simplest of terms. “There are all sorts of different knots, different variations, different complexities, different shapes, different depths. I had no idea about it until I started. It’s really fun.”
The materials used in macramé are fiber “cords” of cotton’ linen, hemp and jute, made from a herbaceous plant. She works with “100 % cotton cord” and likes its “texture and softness.”
While macramé is similar to knitting and crocheting , it is done by hand and without needles or other tools: “It’s all just knots, with your hands,” Telkamp added. Perhaps her best just-knots work is exhibited in her wall hangings, in which she can go really big.
“It really just depends,” the artist explained of how she works. “I start with a rough concept and then let my brain, my brainstorming and my creative juices take over. The sizes range from about a foot to 3 or 4 feet. I can do some really big ones; but it really depends on demand. All of my bigger pieces are wall décor.”
As to a design within her wall hangings, Telkamp said, “I have just kind of stuck to my style. Some are asymmetrical, some are symmetrical. It really depends on what kind of vision I have.
“And I work with driftwood. I recently started using bamboo for my holding rods. It kind of depends on the shape of the branch or how whimsical I want to become.”
Protective, vulnerable, passionate
“It never really crossed my mind,” Telkamp replied, when queried about turning her macramé into a sellable product. “Because I’ve always been very protective over the things that I make. It’s a vulnerable process to create things and share them with people.
“Even like art projects, I was always just so proud of them and sharing them with my family. But as far as the public and people paying for them, it was so foreign to me. Who would want to buy them?”
Then Laci Thompson, owner of Pasque, a “home goods store” in downtown Brookings, offered Telkamp the opportunity to sell her artwork there. Telkamp has a studio in her home — but no storefront where she can sell her work — and she also sells her work at art shows and online.
Revisiting her idea of creating art being a vulnerable process, she added: “I think anytime creators of any sort or artists, it is vulnerable; because you’re very passionate about what you’re creating — and you got the vision for it. But other people may not necessarily see it. Art is up to interpretation.
“Putting it out in the world and sharing it with people when you just want to keep it close, … it was really validating to me that people were so complimentary and wanted to buy it.”
Just go for it
Telkamp admits to having been “kind of nervous about getting into the (Brookings Summer Arts Festival),” even though she’s been in other arts festivals. However, BSAF Co-Chair Shari Avery was “reassuring” and told her: “Just go for it, just do it.” She did; however, she admitted to being “kind of nervous” and tied it to that “vulnerable thing.” She explained, “Being outside of Brookings (at other art shows), you’re a little less nervous; but on your home ground, your stomping grounds, people you went to school with, people you worked with, it makes me kind of nervous. … You just hope that you’ll be well received. I’m so excited. I’m glad Shari pushed me to do it. I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’ll be fun. I’m very passionate about what I do; I care a lot. I don’t do things lightly so there’s a lot of thought behind it.”
This year’s BSAF also marks the first time Telkamp has been a vendor. She’ll be selling a wide variety of wall hangings; plant hangers; home accessories, like coasters and place mats; and personal accessories, like bracelets and key chains.
“My favorites are my plant hangers,” Telkamp said. “I love plants. I have a little bit of the more traditional macramé and then I have a lot more with the modern designs to them. Kind of a little bit for anybody, lots of different things.”
Add to that mix “one of my most popular things: Polaroid hangers — to display Polaroids. I love Polaroids, so I wanted a fun way to display them. They’re very, very popular. People love them.”
Contact John Kubal at [email protected].