The macramé master, Natalia Mastria

When you think of macramé, perhaps images of bell bottom jeans and coloured sunglasses some to mind.

Knot-tied fringed t-shirts, woven bags and wall hangings might conjure up memories of the 1970s, but the intricate art of macramé, an art which dates back to the 13th century, is making a come back in a big way.

One key player in the art form's resurgence is Natalia Mastria, native of Ugento on the southern coast of Puglia. "“My passion for macramé was born around 9 years ago. It started as a hobby, creating and working earrings made from coconut straw for my own personal adornment. I was most probably predisposed to create these small items." So it seems that her keen artistic eye did indeed start from a young age, as she recalls enjoying making rings from random scrap materials, such as copper wire. "“It was something I did just for fun, but then this 'creativity' returned, and now it's an important part of my day to day life. I am so in love with the technique of macramé, that it's almost as if it chose me, and not I it."

Natalia's initial relationship with macramé was one of love at first sight. She describes her passion and love for the art as a drug. "“If I have a design in mind that's waiting to be created, I won't be able too rest until it has been realised." I asked Natalia if she has a particular method or approach to creating her work, to which she assures me she doesn't. "“It all comes about quite naturally," she explains. "“When I am inspired, which can happen in any given moment - for example, looking at a colourful wall, a child's sweater, the colours of the sunset - they help me find the right combination of colours to work with. The same goes for flowers, plants, and their shapes." Natalia's work therefore draws simultaneously on nature and the elements for both inspiration and form. Once she has a design in mind she carefully chooses her materials, as she is quite particular about the importance of the pieces she creates. "“I like natural materials that also have a particular importance," Natalia says, usually opting to work with pearls, precious stones, silk and interesting cottons.

Taking a look through her back catalogue of work it's clear that Natalia's designed aren't defined by one restrictive style. Up until now she has worked many different approaches in her macramé, African and ethnic, single-coloured, multi-coloured, symmetrical and a-symmetrical. The one thing she does aim for despite her free sense of style is elegance. Her main clientele is comprised of women seeking to appear and feel important. They are seeking a sense of exclusivity and want an important personalised creation, and that's why Natalia's bespoke designs hit the mark every time. "“I define my necklaces as 'exclusive' because it's not something you do from one day to the next. Behind it all there's the mental preparation, the design construction and plan. Production times can take up to a month if I find difficulties in the execution."

Macramé designers and artists are always seeking out new creative adventures, and Natalia is definitely one of those. One of Natalia's creations, 'Gioia' won first prize in the 2018 international 'Sleep for peace' campaign, and was auctioned to raise funds to support victims of the most recent Indonesian tsunami. The intrigue of macramé as an art form is due to the fact that it is still very much a niche form one doesn't come across every day. Natalia is therefore very passionate about passing her creative skills onto other budding artists to ensure the continuation of the macramé legacy into the future.