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Japanese Bobbin Lace Artist Ono Wako

Last year I went for the opening reception of exhibition Lace, not lace in Clinton New Jersey. One of the exhibiting artists was Ono Wako. Her art is different from other lace artists. It is playful, radiating joy and happiness, and it is bringing something calming to the soul at the same time. Waco is a Japanese artist.

Joy | Ono Wako Bobbin Lace Artist

Bobbin lace is not a traditional technique in Japan. Therefore I could not resist asking her a few questions. Where did you learn the bobbin lace technique?

I studied lace making at an adult school in London. I also privately studied Honiton lace and other traditional British lace with Margaret Susans for several years. I also attended the class by Pamela Nottingham, Ulrike Voelcker, and Sandi Woods in the UK and the States.

Shoe | Ono Wako Bobbin Lace Artist

What is most interesting for you on bobbin lace technique, why did you choose this technique?

I wanted to challenge the use of different media as I studied traditional Japanese painting at Art University. Lace can be expressed from different ideas and approaches. I believe that “Lace” can be a way of expressing human thought, impressions, and passions, in the same way as painting.

How is it with the interest of bobbin lace in your country?

In Japan, it seems to be a niche interest. But Japanese lace makers are very enthusiastic as they feel some closeness between Japanese handicrafts and bobbin lacemaking since many of them have in-depth knowledge and expertise in other traditional handicrafts, such as kitting, embroidery and braiding (Kumihimo).

Would you believe that in the beginning, my passion for lace started with my attraction to the beauty of bobbins, rather than lace? The wooden sticks with a variety of designs, and the ends are decorated with beads made me enchanted. I believe elaborate bobbin decorations are only found in Britain. Perhaps I would not have become interested in lace if I hadn’t encountered the British bobbin!

Chair | Ono Wako

Waco is taking inspiration from all aspects of life; she is trying to bring ordinary things which we are surrounding with to a different light. In her own words: The ideas taken from my comfortable life and surroundings.

Tea Cup | Ono Wako

Waco, do you teach Bobbin lace in your country? Yes, I do. After coming back to Japan in 1993, I started teaching lace. Now I have three classes. I mainly teach traditional lace. What is your most significant accomplishment, and what is your goal? It is my Harlequin series. I expressed general human feelings through twelve Harlequin pieces inspired by the Italian style comedy, which was performed using stock characters between the 16th and 18th centuries. The piece entitled ‘Joy” displayed in Hunterdon Art Museum (September 2018 –January 2019) was one of them.

Ono Wako | Bobbin Lace Artist

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