A brief history of Macrame

October 07, 2020 0 Comments

A brief history of Macrame

Not surprisingly, Macrame has not always been known as it is today. Today our creations are filled with glorious bespoke fibre textiles that spark creativity and mindfulness, true art forms.. and previously it was used for function and practicality, what a shift!

Dating back to ancient China, Babylon and The Assyrian Empire, Macrame became a ‘household’ craft due to its functionality, practicality and pleasing decorative form. It was not uncommon in those times for young ladies to learn macrame alongside embroidery and sewing, all skills that were favoured to hold within a working community. In the Victorian era, the first book about macrame surfaced in 1882. It was called “Sylvia’s Book of Macrame Lace” this was an essential guide and ‘to do’ book and one of many that was sure to be the driving force behind the much-loved art form we see today.

What is Macrame?
Traditionally, it has been described as a handicraft sculpture, where knots are used to create form. Whilst it may look difficult at first glance, Macrame is primarily made up of a few fundamental knots, these knots form the basis of all (yes all) knotted works. The diversity of these knots will surprise you, the real fun begins once patterning and creativity of placement is introduced.

Over the years, Macrame has seen spikes of resurgence and practice. It just goes to show that it’s a craft that won’t be dormant and long forgotten. In recent times, it’s actually even more convenient to learn macrame with online workshops, internet resources and tutorials.

What can you make with Macrame?
With the use of a good cotton cord, you can make anything you could possibly imagine!
In the 1970s, macrame was ‘all the rage’. If you think of the term bohemian, you will most likely envision something macrame. It was a popular method used to create a diverse range of items, if you take a look thorough your parents archived images, I guarantee you will see a knotted work in the background.

  • Decorative wall hangings
  • Plant pot holders
  • Wearable Art and jewellery and bags
  • Bedspreads and throws
  • Table cloths and runners

Today, you can find these same items being produced once again through macrame. Fresh ideas, methods and patterns have evolved the craft and it is even more versatile than ever. The list of macrame creations and uses keeps on growing. It’s in art, fashion, home décor, tapestry and so much more! In fact, you can now combine the two ancient art forms of macrame and weaving to really take it up a notch.

Macraweave is essentially combining weaving and macrame methods to create pieces. This new method requires a little more technical knowledge and supplies and will add a beautiful articulation to your woven works. Both knotting and weaving techniques are then applied to flesh out the design. If you are an avid macrame maker, macraweaving is a great way to upgrade your skillset and it’s a great goal to work towards if you are now starting off. Macraweave designs have a more diverse texture and can be very colorful and intricate pieces.

Is Macrame an art or a craft?
Macrame is art, and it is a craft. The diversity of designs, patterns and creativity is apparent. Macrame can be functional as well as decorative. It doesn’t require an immense amount of technical skill, as long as you are ready and willing to learn, you can start from the most basic patterns and work your way up to more intricate knotting techniques and even macraweaving.

The Millennial generation especially, have contributed to the resurgence of macrame in modern times. With a back to basics approach and more appreciation for artisan and crafting traditions, it’s no longer just something your granny used to do. Many young people are getting involved and learning how to create macrame pieces, they are also learning from and teaching other with the use of technology and the internet.

YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook are popular platforms used to showcase, promote and inspire the art-form of macrame. It’s a hobby that’s not only soothing and therapeutic but also a great way to earn a side income using these same platforms as well as Etsy and other online vending alternatives.

Hoping to create a more sustainable lifestyle that is good for the environment, sparks creativity and has functional use, the young macrame artists of today are pioneering the craft into new territories and horizons!

 *** Picture of my Father in Laws Macrame creations from the 80s! What a star!

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