"That's what's wonderful about making any kind of art. It can be a total escape that results in a masterpiece."

Melrose Macramé was founded in Tucson, Arizona by visual artist and teacher, Jessica Melrose. Jessica grew up just outside of New York City in New Jersey and moved to Tucson in 2000 to study Art Education at the University of Arizona. Jessica's focus has traditionally been photorealistic drawing and painting, but macramé was always a part of her life. Like many moms who grew up in the 70's and prior, Jessica's mom had her own macramé projects displayed around their home, and Jessica dabbled in making plant hangers, lamps, and macramé jewelry while growing up. Think hemp necklaces and friendship bracelets... However, drawing was her real passion. "I have always been fascinated by the ability of the human hand to accurately communicate what the brain sees through drawing... drawing so real it tricks the viewer into thinking it's a photo."

Jessica used photo realism as her foundation for teaching high school art for 15 years. Her students are national award winning artists and seem to love drawing as much as she does. She uses a business model in her teaching, encouraging students to sell their artwork and providing opportunities for them to do so. She teaches them to make prints, cut mat boards, and package and present their merchandise professionally.

So, where does macramé come into the picture? After 15 years of teaching the same way, Jessica became increasingly aware that much of her students' work looked a lot like her own, and there are more ways of making art than just photorealistic drawing. Jessica realized that she wasn't really exposing her students to all that was out there, so she planned a new class where she and her students studied local Tucson Artists, saw their work, interviewed them, and created work inspired by them. One of the first artists they studied was a local macramé artist, (shout out to Mayra Durán). Jessica knew many of the macramé knots and techniques, but knowing isn't the same as teaching, so as a teacher does, Jessica spent the summer prior making sure she was ready to adequately teach macramé and support her students. Macramé and Fibers is now one of the artistic pathways students can choose at Jessica's school.

Jessica decided to take her work on the road and signed up to be a vendor at a few of the local arts fairs and was shocked how popular her macramé was. She decided, then, that she would put drawing on hold (sort of) and focus on macramé as a "side hustle", as you do being a teacher in Arizona.

"The thing I love most about macramé is that it communicates peace. It doesn't necessarily represent anything in particular, but it brings the viewer to a place of tranquility and balance. With fine art, you may have created a drawing that people love, but that doesn't necessarily mean they want it in their home. Maybe it doesn't match their stuff, maybe it speaks to them but they don't necessarily want that message on the walls of their space. Macramé has a place in beauty and function, and creating it is probably the most cathartic experience a person can have once you get into a rhythm. My favorite thing is to turn on a podcast or an audio book and learn something while I create. That's what's wonderful about making any kind of art. It can be a total escape that results in a masterpiece."

Jessica continues to share her love for Macramé with others by offering workshops at local breweries, sewing shops and online due to COVID-19 with tutorial videos and supplies included. "Providing ways to keep people's hands busy is the best way to combat depression and anxiety in tough times."

Every macrame piece is handmade with love and positivity and can be customized to fit a particular space or color scheme. To see all her works in progress follow Jessica on Instagram @jessica.melrose.art and facebook at Jessica Melrose Artwork.