I remember macramé: 1960s hanging planters, friendship bracelets, ropey things that went out of style.
Little did I know that this kind of plaiting went back to the Babylonians where it had such a huge moment that sculptors captured the fringed, knotted garments in stone.
Little did I know that our word, macramé, comes from an Arabic weaver's term for fringe; that the Moors carried it to Europe and England, causing quite a 17th c. fashion frenzy in Queen Mary's court; and later, because it was a popular past time of sailors, that macramé madness made it to South America. There, in the hands of indigenous artisans, masterful innovations bloomed.
So, in my state of ignorance, knowing none of this, I walk into the design studio of Carolina Vélez in Medellín, Colombia. . . totally unprepared for the jaw dropping that is to come.
Carolina in her long sweeping dress and sneakers welcomes me into her atelier where macrame has become magic in her hands. And not just her hands, but those of artisans to whom this legacy has been passed down, working with her. Sketching impossibly complicated designs for wedding dresses, capes, necklaces and all manner of adornments that have no name, I see only that she has created a new kind of armor. Closer to amor than to chain mail, really, since I am in love with all of her pieces.
She calls her design world Oropendola after a South American bird, and I see that, too, how one might take flight wearing this breastplate. I try them on. I want to soar.
What am I to do to but to pour over colors and textures with Carolina until an utterly unique hand-crafted Ibu original makes its way to you? After all, these are no where else to be found, and such a work of art, each one. Those of you who are willing to take center stage now, I think, simply must have these feathers.
But since we don't all take to the stage, I also brought back smaller wearable pieces, statement necklaces that anyone can love - great with jeans or an evening dress. Black on black, Denim and black on a white tee shirt. Just totally outrageously chic.
I am happy to catch you up to speed on the long life of macramé and how it takes hold from time to time in the imagination of an artist or a community - Carolina and her tribe being one remarkable example. These latent creative strains surface in all of us when the moment is right. Be prepared. Something old, even forgotten, may come again to you to be reimagined. To blaze.
As for this piece of amor: wear it once. I dare you. It will be your night in shining armor.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker