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Meet Kyra Matsui

Kyra Matsui is a native of Toronto, Ontario. She is a single mother to four autistic children, who she supports with Iron Lace Design.

She started Iron Lace Design in 2015, after friends expressed an interest in purchasing chainmail pieces like the ones she made for herself. She started a small Etsy shop, which eventually began creating enough revenue to be a full-time job.

 

Her experiences with parenthood and her children helped her find her niche - beautiful jewelry that is strong enough to be worn in daily life. In addition to being strong enough to stand up to many of the trials of parenthood, she found that many of her pieces also serve as unobtrusive sensory jewelry.

Most chainmail jewelry is created using European methods. However, Kyra uses Japanese chainmail techniques in her designs. This homage to her Japanese father's legacy creates a fabric-like drape and movement to Iron Lace Design creations. 

In 2022, she moved Iron Lace Design off Etsy to its own website. Every single Iron Lace Design piece is handmade to order and packed by Kyra in her backyard studio. She only receives help managing the website and Facebook page. 

"I think at least half of the play that I did when I was a child was trying to make things.  Some of my earliest memories are trying to make crafts. I remember—I must have been reading about grass basket weaving, or having something read to me—and I started trying to weave bits of Kleenex. But I didn’t know how to weave, so I just started making bigger and more elaborate braids, and I started putting them together into furniture for doll’s houses.

"Everything is interesting. When I was in grade 9 or 10, I made a spindle and pulled all of the stuffing out of pillow, and spun it, and made a hand-woven tapestry sort of thing that I used for an art project. 

"Around then, I found that our school library had a bunch of very good books on costume history, and it started to become something that was possible to do, rather than something where I had no idea how to get from the bits that I was working with to an actual finished project. 

"I’d been making doll’s clothes out of Kleenex and tissue paper and that sort of thing for years by this point. Now I started making them out of cloth, and then I started trying to make actual historical garments for me—and I was really bad. I didn’t know how to design and I had no one to teach me. Aside from books it didn’t really occur to me to find someone to learn from. 

​"I had a really close friend in highschool. She found, at the highschool library, a copy of an Ojibway storybook in English and Ojibway. We started hanging out more, and I don’t remember what the catalyst was, but we started going to the big library downtown, the reference library, after school. Basically, school was boring, and this was a lot more interesting. 

 

​"So we started learning Ojibway together. We ended up, both of us, being sort of mid-level fluent. 

​"If you’re learning a language, you end up doing a lot of reading about the culture and the myths and legend. I did a fair amount of research into the costume, and I taught myself how to do Ojibway and sort of mid-Plains type beadwork.

"That beaded applique was probably the gateway to making jewellery."


- Iron Lace designer Kyra Matsui, on growing up a maker

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