How growing up in his grandparent's art and craft shop shaped Mr Macramé's creative journey
Welcome to The Creative Files, where we speak to some of the biggest crafters, makers and designers, gaining insights into their creative processes, inspiration and their advice for newcomers. We are thrilled to have been able to chat with Mr Macramé (aka Pete), who was keen to tell us about his journey into the intricate world of macramé and how he has built his flourishing business.
1. Who is Mr Macrame and what is it that you create?
Hello hello! My name is Pete and I'm a rope and knot artist specialising in macramé but I like to incorporate knitting, crochet and ceramics sometimes too.
I create macramé clothing and specialise in dresses and artwear. Not your most stereotypical type of clothing, but I love utilising the macramé craft to create something theatrical, wearable and over the top.
2. Tell us about your crafting niche and how you found this?
Macramé - although a fad in the 70s and 80s, it's come back around, this time with a whole host of new materials, colours and textures which has elevated the craft from the older days of jute.
My grandparents used to own an arts and crafts shop in the UK, so my upbringing was trying out everything crafty and DIY. After learning the basics of knitting and crochet, around five years ago I tried my hand at macramé and absolutely fell in love with it. I loved the dexterous, fibrous nature of it. I love that there's an endless amount of knots to learn, which as time goes on makes the work more and more intricate, different and detailed. It's also predominantly using rope and your hands, without wielding any tools, so it's a relatively affordable craft to get started with.
3. Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?
I was a travel agent for around five years, but I've always remained creative in my spare time, like hand making homewares and handmade gifts for friends. In the midst of COVID-19, I lost a few travel agent jobs so thought I'd pursue Mr Macramé - further and try to develop a brand and product. It took off really well online (also thanks to COVID). I then managed to find local plant shops that would stock my plant hangers and macrame wall hangings. Post (the never ending) lockdowns, I started to run macramé workshops, which then led me to hosting regular workshops and events for private parties. Most recently, I've been approached by a book publisher to be the author of a DIY book, soon to be published later this year... (I still have to pinch myself about it, it's WILD!).
4. How did you cultivate your distinct style?
For the past two years, I've been honing in on the craft to cultivate techniques and knots to create clothing. There's an amount of mathematics and logic to work out how to create a macramé dress. There have been lots of failed attempts and using certain knots that just didn't work functionally, but I've now cracked it. It's super challenging, especially when it comes to replicating a design to a different size dress, but I think that's why I love it so much. There's a lot of logistical brain power and creativity required at the same time to make the garments to make sure they're wearable but also look pretty.
5. What is your creative process and where do you get your ideas/inspiration?
It's quite easy to take influence straight off Instagram but I try to look elsewhere and look to make things that haven't been done before. I love birds and wings which started as a macramé mardi gras ensemble but has transcended through a lot of my designs. I also love pulling iconic dress styles from the archives and trying to replicate the style and fit, but as a macramé version.
6. What does a typical working day look like for you?
A typical working day always starts with a soy latté with half a sugar. Depending on what I'm working on, I'll either get straight into knotting and making a garment or I'll be designing and thinking over what to make next. Aside from keeping on top of workshop prepping, online orders and making, I try to film as much as I can. Some of the garments take several days or weeks to finish so I always like to film the process. Not just for social media but also to reflect on later and how I can improve designs at different points of the making process. I also love collaborating with other like-minded creatives, just to see how macramé can be incorporated into other crafts.
7. Tell us what your favourite project to work on so far?
My absolute favourite is my latest dress, part of a collaborative storyline photo shoot. It's like macramé - meets Bridgerton or Downton Abbey. It's a tight corset style top with a HUGE hoop style skirt. I challenged myself by making the dress entirely out of rope, spooling round, even the hoop parts of the dress are rope bound by more rope. The dress itself has no fastenings or embellishments, just an entire dress made from weaved and knotted ropes and cords. I could have simplified it but I like the challenge and making something unique. I also predominantly used organic, recycled and repurposed cords, just to make it that little bit harder!
8. Who are your biggest artistic inspirations and why?
My biggest inspirations come from fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier for his playful theatrical clothing. I can relate to his collections, there's a lot of eccentric, over-the-top fun in what he creates with a lot of his haute couture designs questionable in functionality (which I love). I also love Dion Lee, he uses macramé in some of his collections but in a very modern, monochrome, minimalist way. It really changes how macramé is perceived and that it's just another way to incorporate fibre art into clothing. There's also Australian designer Denisse M Vera, a formidable macramé dressmaker who I've had the absolute pleasure of meeting a few times and (dare I say) the inventor of the more modern macramé dress style.
9. Do you have a single piece of advice you'd give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?
Hmm, I would probably tell my younger self to invest in more comfortable footwear when making macramé! When working straight onto a mannequin or on a macrame wall hanging, it can involve standing up for a lot of time, which in effect plays havoc on posture! (Jeez, I sound so old writing that.) For someone looking to pursue a similar line of work, I would say just keep practising and learning different knots. I'd also say find the things you love and bring that into your work. It's quite easy to get lost in what everyone else is making sometimes, but if you incorporate your own influences into your creativity, you'll feel so much more confident and proud of what you create.
You can usually find me in my Atelier/Art Studio in St Kilda, Melbourne, but for those further afield, I'm usually pretty hot on Instagram and Facebook @mrmacrame.
I also keep my website fresh with all my workshop dates, handmade homewares and photoshoots. Head to www.mrmacrame.com to find me there too.
Find Mr Macramé here: