Artist Naomi Artts brings light and energy to homes through handcrafted dreamcatchers and macrame wall hangings
By Jennifer Mellace
Born in Israel to a Brazilian mother and an Israeli father, Naomi Artts grew up in an Orthodox family that was passionate about supporting the arts. As a child, she learned how to paint and also took piano lessons, which eventually intrigued her more, and she left painting behind for music. “I learned how to play a variety of instruments, including the harp, guitar, and drums,” she says.
Today, Naomi lives in Gettysburg, where she works on her new artistic endeavor—the creation of Native American dreamcatchers and beautiful macrame wall hangings—both of which started out of boredom. But let’s take a step back and get to know this artist a little better.
Who is Naomi Artts?
While living in Israel, Naomi took an interest in learning how to fly. Unfortunately, growing up in this religious community, a female pilot was unheard of. “At first, I had no support at all,” she says. “At the age of 21, I was able to find aviation work as an aircraft dispatcher, but I wanted to be a pilot. Eventually, my parents supported me getting my private license in Israel, and then I came to the U.S. to continue my education.” Naomi was only supposed to stay for three months, but ended up moving here permanently. She managed to get all of her pilot licenses and became a flight instructor, which she continues to do today—teaching other flight instructors as well as commercial pilots. In March 2020, she was awarded the FAA Gold Seal, a coveted designation issued to certain flight instructors who meet a higher standard of performance as a Certified Flight Instructor.
While Naomi’s profession keeps her flying high, it’s her work as an artist that keeps her grounded. She began making dreamcatchers in October 2019 after she had emergency surgery for her appendix. Familiar with constantly being on the go, Naomi needed an outlet. “I was very bored, and a friend of mine was making dreamcatchers and taught me and I loved it,” she recalls. “I started making them for myself but ended up with a collection, and my friend said I should open a shop and sell them.” So, just before COVID-19 hit, Naomi started her Instagram page, opened an Etsy shop, and started selling dreamcatchers. She also started a YouTube channel where people can see how she makes her creations.
Dreamcatchers and Macrame
In Native American cultures, a dreamcatcher is a talisman used to protect people from bad dreams. Naomi uses a combination of different materials that she likes, often focusing on earth tone colors, which are more natural. “I do whatever strikes my mood,” she says. “It’s completely art for me. I start with specific colors and the designs come. I just start something but don’t know how it will end.”
While the dreamcatchers started with a push from her friend, Naomi’s interest in macrame came later. “I didn’t know what it was but watched YouTube videos and this is how I started making them,” she says. “Now I love making them more than dreamcatchers. I really like home décor and decorating homes, and I feel like this is part of the home décor. Art also adds light and energy to the room.”
Many people remember these bohemian-style wall hangings of the 1960s and ’70s, but it’s suggested that macrame actually dates back to the ancient Persians and Babylonians. A technique that uses several knots to form the basic shape and function of the piece, each knot is created with the artist’s hands. There are dozens of macrame knots, from simple to elaborate, but some of the most common ones are known as the half knot and the square knot. Others include the lark’s head, half knot spiral, clove hitch, the overhand knot, and the gathering knot. Naomi actually offers a few beginner macrame videos on her YouTube channel that show how the basic knots are made.
Naomi usually creates one to two macrame pieces a week, and they can take anywhere from three to 20 hours, depending on the size. The dreamcatchers are a little less time intensive. Using natural cotton, the largest macrame wall hanging Naomi has made is 48 inches long by 35 inches wide, and she recently made an 11-foot runner that took a few weeks to finish.
Sharing Her Craft
Since starting macrame, Naomi has found a lot of interest in people wanting to know how to do the craft themselves. Prior to the pandemic, she started offering workshops, which were well received. But once things shut down, so did her face-to-face gatherings. So Naomi improvised and started selling do-it-yourself macrame kits, which can still be purchased today on her Etsy shop. Looking ahead, she hopes to create macrame hangings or dreamcatchers as wedding backdrops or perhaps for hotels to use in open spaces.
When Naomi isn’t flying, teaching, or creating art, she’s passionate about her daily yoga practice and her volunteer work in an LGBTQ organization and in Bikur Cholim, a group that offers donations and care for the sick and elderly.
“I really enjoy the inside spirit, meditation, yoga, and reading,” she says. “One of my goals is to spread love around the world. Part of the reason I started my YouTube channel was because I wanted to share my gifts and allow people to create and enjoy the art.”
In the end, Naomi’s message to everyone is this: “Do not let anyone stop you from believing in your dreams.”