Self-taught macramé artist creates works inspired by her community

By Ryan Ward | September 20, 2022


Maly Vang learned how to make macrame by watching tutorial videos on YouTube. She was working a traditional 9 to 5 job and felt stagnant in her work. “I discovered macrame in 2007,” Vang said. “I just kind of fell into a slump and I wanted to find something to kind of retrigger that creative side of me.”

Vang, who is Hmong, takes inspiration from macrame by looking at her community’s own art and designs. Taking traditional Hmong designs or ideas and incorporating them into her work.

“The most popular piece that I have right now are my pieces modeled after the traditional Hmong necklace called a xauv,” Vang said.

Vang’s work became so popular that she eventually opened her own store online called malyMADE. This allows her to sell and distribute her art across the United States. It’s become so popular that, for many of her pieces, a waiting list is required.

“Macrame is such a therapeutic thing for me,” said Vang. “It hasn’t really been about sales for me, but more like being able to create something, to use my hands, to create something that people will enjoy.” Vang can spend as much as 10 hours working on a single piece. The entire process has been about building confidence for Vang.

“I’ve never been very confident in my art,” Vang said. “So, creating this macramé and getting the positive feedback, it’s just, it’s very exciting!”

Vang’s work has taken off so much that she has quit her regular job to focus solely on making macrame. Putting Vang down a path that she’s both excited and nervous to take.

“I don’t know where this journey is going to take me,” Vang said. “But it’s a journey that I’m willing to risk it all to see what will happen, and what will come of it in the end.”

Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward is a producer for the “Wisconsin Life” project and can rest easy after he finally found the perfect jar of homemade dill pickles at the farmer’s market in Madison. … just like his Grandma Shirley use to make!

Sign Up Form

Sign Up for Our Bi-Weekly Newsletter

Get your favorite Wisconsin Life stories, meet the crew, and go behind the scenes.

Our Favorite Collections

Storyteller Rodney Lambright II's comic series about the rich relationship between a single father, his young daughter and his retirement-age parents.
For the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we discover how Wisconsinites experienced the war both at home and on the battlefield.
Ice, cold and winter are an integral part of what it means to live in Wisconsin. "Ice Week" explores the many ways that ice defines us.
Food plays a central part in many holiday traditions. This series honors the foods and meals that make the day.
Escape winter with a look at some of Wisconsin's favorite sports and games.
"Living the Wisconsin Life" is an online series exploring the little things that make living in Wisconsin fun, interesting and meaningful.