Tying the knot: The Chaotic Beauty of Macramé
Paloma Santa Cruz and Ricardo Duran, partners in love and art, share the story behind their Macramé creations at MxAtelier
MxAtelier is the work of Colombian artist Paloma Santa Cruz and Mexican architect Ricardo Duran. I met them over Zoom at their home-turned-workshop in artsy Cancún, where huge bundles of strings laid scattered in wild heaps waiting to be reconfigured into an orderly and precise sequence of knots, gradually transforming into a masterful work of art.
Their workshop is, effectively, how I imagine Paloma’s brain: a chaotic and colorful playground, where a thousand ideas fly through the air, bursting, bubbling, exploding with creative energy. As Ricardo and Paloma lift a massive macramé wall hanging I can’t help but smile at the profound love I see in their eyes - for the craft and, clearly, for each other.
It’s a testament to the strength of their relationship that they have somehow managed to survive lockdown in a flat surrounded by macramé to the point of drowning, Paloma tells me laughing, as Ricardo explains their life and business partnership works because they fully complement each other.
“Paloma does all the creation while I take care of business. I’m the one who speaks to clients and suppliers or scours the internet to find some obscure piece of string she saw six months previous in a market stall,” he chuckles, before becoming serious again. “And at the same time, she’s very good at keeping me in check whenever my workaholic nature makes me slip into work chat in the evenings in front of the TV!”
Family and tradition are key elements in Mx Atelier’s production and ethos. Everything is done 100% by hand, without any machines apart from a few telares to wrangle the pieces of cotton string, which can reach 9 meters in length.
As much as knotting some string might seem like an easy task, the real artistry in macramé work lies in the painstaking precision needed, as well as of course in the inventive designs Paloma conjures up from her mind hive of images and references.
Despite there being a few well-defined categories of knots, no two macramé creations are the same, because even the tightness or looseness of the knots themselves will give you a different-looking result, making it an incredibly versatile artform with huge design potential.
“The first time I saw macramé I was so completely taken by it that I came very close to instantly quitting my job to dedicate myself only to it,” Paloma remembers thinking back to her early days of experimentation when she used to make everything from clothing to lampshades.
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