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Meet Kyra Matsui

"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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