Mastering the art of Macrame
Post by Insha Latief Khan on Sunday, November 13, 2022
Mohammad Arsalan Dharwas always inspired by artists and would tend to imbibe the essence of art since his childhood. Blending cultural influences and contemporary designs with his macrame art skills, he tried to give his art a honed dimension by starting a venture Alchemy Derivative.
Giving the 21st century touch to old age art, the designer makes trendy jewellery items and home decors.Defined by intricate patterns, natural colors that tell stories of a free-spirited wander, his collection of Boho jewelleries are giving a break to conventional silver and gold jewellery users.
Boho jewellery is a style that originated from the bohemian culture. Its described as free-spirited, tribal, and ethnic. True to its origins, boho style jewellery gives you the freedom to mainstream fashion. It sets you free from the typical so you can experience a different type of style.
Hailing from Srinagar, his father who was himself an artist, used to take Arsalan to the places enriched with the handicrafts which fascinated him to stick to the art.
His idea was born during his travels towards central India a few years back and was fascinated when he saw a lot of people especially foreigners making the Macabre art.
“Being in Kashmir, we are mostly into gold and silver ornaments. Making the jewellery out of thread was something new for me. I researched about it and came to know that people initially used to make jewellery out of thread and ropes only when there was no gold and silver,” he said.
While in Delhi, Arsalan had a lucky encounter with a Brazilian native who used to make jewellery out of wires. Under his influence, he started learning some important tricks and ways to do wire wrapping i.e., weaving of stone, semi- precious and precious stones, using metallic wires of various thicknesses to produce a piece of jewellery.
To make jewellery, he brought his own set of tools and equipment.
As Arsalan puts it himself, “During the initial times of learning, I had no platform where I could have exhibited it to people. Then I went to the South of India and exhibited it there, where I could see the positive response it garnered, while it boosted my confidence.”
He further added that wire being a harder medium was very difficult to work with and would require many tools and apparatus to bend, twist, cut etc.
“A friend suggested me to switch the wrapping material from wire to thread to make things work in my favour,” he explained.
Taking us through his journey, Arsalan said that it was not something that he learnt overnight, he had to mend his ways to reach perfection. He said, “Initially he couldn’t get the knots right. In Goa, I met many foreigners who were well affiliated with the craft. They exposed me to some tricks of the trade that definitely helped me through.
With time, he somehow couldn’t keep up with it but the lockdown imposed due to the COVID pandemic gave him a chance to get back to his threads and designs. It was after 4-5 years that he again started from scratch and took to YouTube to learn from various tutorials.
Crediting it to the internet, Arsalan said,“I learnt most of the things from the internet and I also made some of my original designs. Recently I have been exhibiting at events and the response left me awestruck.”
He participated in a number of events in Kashmir and made a good local clientele. Recently he participated in one of the biggest festivals of India in Bangalore where his collection was lauded and sold out. Currently he is preparing for a trip to Bangalore for the Christmas edition of the festival.
Macrame is a form of art involving making art pieces with the help of knotting techniques. The art of making wall decors comes in macrame while the jewellery making comes under micro macrame. The versatile fiber art involves making everything from jewellery to wall hanging and plant hangers which are further accentuated with beads, dyed threads and can offer endless creative possibilities to the artist and its history dating back to 13th century.
Since the art of macrame is handmade, it's time consuming. To him, it usually takes three weeks to make a dozen pendants. Arsalan said that weaving didn’t take much of his time but arranging things in order was what would cost time and patience.
The first step starts with the usage of waxed polyester threads which are imported from Europe. Monochrome tone or multichromatic tones threads are used and weaved into the intricate designs. The weaving takes place with the help of fingers and no tool is used. The ends of the threads are burnt and closed so that it doesn’t open up.
Taking us through his vast collection, Arsalan mentioned one of his creations which goes by the name Norway- Tree of Life. It is a brass pendant having a semi-precious Labradorite stone. As the name suggests, the pendant is made to resemble a tree wherein the tree is weaved by copper wires.
“The tree of life has a lot of significance in different mythologies. The names of the jewellery in my collection are based on the names of the places. Earrings made from threads and beads go under the collection name-Madrid. The “Naye Dilli” collection caters to the Cabochon pendants. Austria, which is a leaf-like necklace with jade and brass beads, was the biggest and difficult project of mine,” he elaborated.
He observed that earrings, anklets and necklaces were purchased mostly by the locals. He said that he still would make wire jewellery incorporating silver or gold wires on special orders. “It adds elegance to the jewellery and is also sold at hiked prices than the others.”
The designer wants to create awareness about the idea of Boho jewellery. He said, “Bohemian jewellery caters to the age group of 10-35. I have a few clients who are above 45 years and they like to wear my jewellery which makes me proud.”
Thread offers more flexibility as compared to wire and doesn’t require any tool or equipment to create shapes and designs.
Recently he has started venturing into home décor items be it wall hangings, pot hangers or hanging pot hangers. “We use hand-dyed and upcycled cotton robes for home décor articles, a sustainable fabrics are used,” the artist added.
He is planning to make more décor items. “I am trying to introduce curtains and some table runners as well. Also, a shawl can be made but that needs a lighter material. The plans are endless,” he added.
Not intending to keep his skills to himself, the artist plans to impart the macrame skills to people. “I want to make a community where people can come and get trained. Initially one can work with robes. I would love it if anyone is interested in learning the art. Some people from Bangalore wanted me to start online classes and I am also working on that,” he said.
While signing off, he gives out a message to all the enthusiasts, “If somebody is interested in any kind of art while it makes you happy, just do it. What one feels compassionate about, should always be followed rather than giving up because of societal pressure.”